The book “Things Fall Apart” was first published in 1958, as a response to European misrepresentation of Africa as literary a desert. Chinua Achebe explores the impact that colonialism had on the African continent especially in the culture of the indigenous people. The narrative story is told through Okonkwo, the protagonist, and follows his rise and fall. Achebe explores the complex Igbo culture through political, cultural and economic prisms as he seeks to highlight that prior to the coming of the colonialists. Africans had their complex economic, political and cultural systems that colonialism destroyed. In the exploration of this subject matter, the reader is attracted to the patriarchal nature of the society that Okonkwo grows in especially by the different roles that the society assigns to men and women. The men occupy the socially strategic roles and women are relegated to inferior roles such as childbearing and offering support to their men. This paper examines the patriarchal nature of the Igbo society by looking keenly at the family structure as well as the role of women in the novel. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
From the onset of the novel, it emerges that the society subjugates women in its midst. The men in this society take the lead in all matters regarding political, economic, social and familial roles pertaining to their community while the women are relegated to the background. In fact, the women occupy the same rank as that occupied by children. Okonkwo from an early age despises his father because he thinks that his father had been poor all his life because he was “feminine.” From a young age, the protagonist strives to be the antithesis of his father by being tough and strong-willed (Achebe 4). Hence, from the very beginning, the reader is meant to feel that being a woman in this society is nothing but a disability because all the important cultural, political and social roles are preserved for the men. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Even when women are brought into the center-stage, they are discussed in matters regarding their support to their husbands or their role as child-bearers and home makers. Their roles almost end there. For example, Okonkwo’s second wife Ekwefi is fiercely independent, full of energy and strong willed, but Okonkwo seemingly does not love her as he had wished, because she could not give him a son. In fact, the novel almost stops short of showing that the protagonist is the victim of his wife’s inability to give birth to a son by highlighting that he is a victim of his wife’s failures.
Examples and Evidence
The author gives ample evidence to support his claims that Africa had a unique story to tell by deeply exploring the complex political, social and economic structure. For example, he explores the means of enforcing the laws and regulations through the life of Okonkwo. One of the pretenses for the colonialism of Africa was that the continent was backward and colonialism was meant to pull the continent out of the dark. He offers the evidence of the strict and incorruptible council of elders within the Igbo culture that had the power to enforce laws and regulations. For example, although Okonkwo was an elder in the council, when he broke the law by beating his wife in a holy week, he was punished by being banished away from his community and had to spend time in exile (Achebe 78).
Chinua Achebe demonstrates that Africa had its own sophisticated method of administration that was practiced prior to colonialism. The author depends on observation because he had a vast knowledge about Nigeria and Igbo culture having been raised in it. He was also a professor of African studies and an administrator in the government of Nigeria at some point in his career. .[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
As a poet and a novelist, Achebe was saddened by the notion that Africa had no story of its own and most stories about Africa were written by Europeans. Specifically, Achebe was out to criticize Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” His reputation, personal experience and professional knowledge greatly contribute to the validity of the novel.
The author has lectured in several universities and colleges in Nigeria and in the United States. He has lectured in African studies, language and literature. Having worked as an administrator for the government, he promotes the idea that it is possible for a government to administer a territory without necessarily having to destroy the indigenous cultures. In this book, the onset of British colonialism is seen to clash with the indigenous cultures and practices and the failure to reconcile the two leads to the tragic death of the main character, Okonkwo by hanging.
The ending of the novel is tragic because it ends with the hanging of the protagonist. The author demonstrates that the failure to find an amicable way of the co-existence of colonialism with the African culture had led to the death of the African values and practices. However, literary wise, Achebe demonstrates that Africa had a unique story and African writers were rising up to tell their story. Such an ending to the story had an effective and important message to the world that colonialism had had a negative impact on the continent by destroying its indigenous practices and value systems.
By reading this book by Achebe, the reader gets a glimpse of the African continent through the eyes of one of the continent’s most accomplished scholars. By reading this book, one learns three important lessons: colonialism had destroyed Africa. Secondly, African novelists were the best placed in talking and writing about Africa. Lastly, the subjugation of women is something that was deeply embedded in the values and cultural practices of Africa. Reading this book introduces the reader into the culture of the Nigerian country and to a large extent the African continent through the eyes of one of Africa’s finest novelist, scholar, son, Chinua Achebe. .[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Oxford: Heinemann Educational, 2000. Print.