Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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What is the value of personal bonds in the Ibo society?

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Throughout Chinua Achebe's classic novel Things Fall Apart, Achebe constantly demonstrates the value of personal bonds within the Ibo society. Indeed, even though Okonkwo prides himself on his self-made success, he is ultimately dependent upon his friends and extended family to help him in key times of need.

The main section in the novel that illustrates the value of personal bonds within the Ibo tradition is when Okonkwo is exiled from Umuofia and sent to live in his mother's homeland. When he arrives, he receives help from his mother's kinsmen in Mbanta:

Okonkwo was given a plot of ground on which to build his compound, and two or three pieces of land on which to farm during the coming planting season. With the help of his mother's kinsmen he built himself an obi and the symbols of his departed fathers. Each of Uchendu's five sons contributed three hundred seed-yams to enable their cousin to plant a farm (129-30).

This familial bond ensures Okonkwo can survive and even prosper in Mbanta.

Moreover, Okonkwo's relationship with his friend Obierika further demonstrates the value of personal relationships in this society. While Okonkwo is in exile, Obierika brings him money from his crops and news from his homeland, saying,

That is the money from your yams. . . I sold the big ones as soon as you left. Later on I sold some of the seed-yams and gave out others to sharecroppers. I shall do that every year until you return. But I thought you would need the money now and so I brought it (142).

Obierika is Okonkwo's greatest friend and ally, and even stoic, rigid Okonkwo acknowledges the depth of his friendship and how valuable he finds his relationship with Obierika.

Personal relationships carry a lot of weight in the Ibo society that Achebe presents, as evident by examining Okonkwo's exile.

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