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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Student Question

Do the people of Umuofia celebrate more than one deity in Things Fall Apart?

Expert Answers

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In short, yes. The people of Umuofia believe in many spirits. Each person is believed to have their own "chi" or personal spirit, but there are also gods of crops, sky, and the earth. Above all these spirits, however, is Chukwu, the supreme god. This belief in a multi-dimensional god is a source of direct conflict between the missionaries and village. Although the outcasts of the Ibo society are drawn to the inclusive tenets of Christianity, the rest of the village is put off by the idea of only one male god.

In Chapter 16, we see the first argument/counterargument presented by both parties. The missionaries argue that the Ibo gods are simply wood and stone. The villagers scoff at this notion, as anyone would whose centuries-old beliefs were challenged. Yet when the church is built in the Evil Forest, the villagers expect everyone to meet a horrible end at the wrath of the gods. When this fails to be, more villagers are won over to the Christian church.

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