Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 15 Summary and Analysis

In Okonkwo's second year of exile, Obierika comes to visit him. Obierika has been taking care of Okonkwo's business affairs for him and has brought him the profits from the sale of his yams. As the friends talk, Obierika relates the sad story of Abame, a clan that was wiped out by white men. The clan's Oracle called the white men locusts, and this led some of the great men of their village to kill a white man. In retribution, the white men came one day when everyone was at the market and slaughtered them all. Only a few men got away and were able to tell the story.

Okonkwo says that the Abame were fools for killing the first white man, because it's dumb to kill a man who says nothing. You don't know what he wants, and the silence is ominous. Okonkwo is afraid that the Abame are just the first and that more clans will be wiped out. He's heard all of the stories about white men making guns, drinking alcohol, and selling African slaves overseas. He'd never believed the stories before, but now he realizes that the white men are a threat.

Themes

Change. Unsurprisingly, the changes taking place in Umuofia and Mbanta upset Okonkwo, who has lived his entire life according to a strict set of rules and customs that determine how powerful a man is, how respectable he will be, and what constitutes masculinity. With the changes in his country, it's easy to see why Okonkwo would feel that he is losing his identity. His way of life is in peril, and the changes in Umuofia, though inevitable, aren't for the better.

Colonization.  Achebe spent the first third of the novel worldbuilding, introducing readers to a culture and place that's likely very different from their own. He does this so the reader will understand, when white men begin colonizing Umuofia, what is at stake and what will, in the end, be destroyed: a culture and a way of life that...

(The entire section is 499 words.)