What is the theme and the conclusion of Things Fall Apart?

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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One theme of the novel is that inability to adapt to changes can lead to one's downfall. This is shown in the conclusion, when Okonkwo hangs himself rather than submit to the laws of the British again. He has struggled with the clash of cultures ever since the missionaries built a church in Umuofia. He often ridiculed those who joined, and disowned his son Nwoye when he turned to the church as well. But Okonkwo was still subjected to the laws of the British. Whether this was just or unjust is another matter-Achebe here is highlighting the tragedy of obstinacy.

The novel ends with an ironic comment on Okonkwo's death by the District Commissioner, who sets out to write a book about the Ibo. He is racist, condescending, and describes the villagers as uncivilized and in need of pacification. The gravity of Okonkwo's suicide is lost on him, which makes the act even more tragic.

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