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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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How does Things Fall Apart document colonization?

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I would say that Achebe's work provides a great insight into the understandings of colonization and imperialism from the point of view of the indigenous people.  The reading of the Ibo clan, analyzing how they perceive reality, and then examining how all of this changes when the European presence enters the tribe's village is extremely powerful.  There can be much there in terms of serving as a type of documentation about how life changed under the tenets of Colonial rule amongst indigenous people.  Using Okonkwo as a frame of reference in this process is extremely important in assessing the historical and cultural impact of Colonialism on different nations in Africa, and then can be broadened to include Asia and South America.

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How does Things Fall Apart sum up the experience of colonization?

I would say that the quoting of Yeats is quite appropriate to use to discuss colonialism.  In the end, the spirit of colonization did irreparable damage to how nations and cultures saw themselves prior to its expansion.  The traditional notions of identity and collective self were dramatically changed through colonization and this change led to a period where new definitions were needed.  In the case of Okonkwo, this was difficult to fathom and to understand.  His old sense of the village and his understanding of how people are to act came into direct conflict with the new expectations are articulated by colonization and the spirit of imperialism at the time.  I think that the idea of "things falling apart" bring to light the sense of distengration that was evident as a result of colonization.

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How does Things Fall Apart sum up the experience of colonization?

It may not gather together all of the experiences of colonization, but it does present an interesting story about some of the conflicts that arise when two cultures are pushed together.

One of the most interesting ones is the inability of many of the main players, Okonkwo and the white administrators to have any kind of dialogue and they cannot communicate their problems or the particular aspects of their culture that are creating horrible misunderstandings and eventually lead to Okonkwo's death.

The book is of course pointing out the callous and indifferent nature of the colonists, but further questions can be asked about how both sides might have been able to compromise instead of it being just one side must be right and the other wrong.

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