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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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In Things Fall Apart, what characteristics of the upcoming 20th century are presaged?

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An incident in Things Fall Apart that presages unjust British laws adopted in the twentieth century as late as 1912 is the incursion of British colonial officials when there is a disruption and desecration by a Christian convert of the annual ceremony to worship the Earth goddess and the aftermath of retaliation when the unconverted Ibos burned the new Christian church to the ground. The British officials arrested the village leaders, jailing and humiliating them by whipping them on top of imposing a fine to be paid.

In 1912, a British colonial law was passed authorizing the already raging practice among British soldiers of slaughtering whole villages as punishment for attacks against English missionaries or government officials. The novel also presages, through the religious division in Umuofia, the ultimate division of Africa into areas of more than fifty states to advance European colonization of Africa. These political divisions cut right through ancient ethnic and tribal boundaries thereby separating unified groups and combining opposing groups.

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