The book written by Chinua Achebe marked the beginning of the revolution on the issues concerning the African society. The book Things Fall Apart is about the political, social, cultural and religious changes that took place in the African society after the invasion of the foreign population within the continent. The novel was an absolutely new representation of African people as the ones that are able to determine their identity and their life. The book was presented to the audience two years before the proclamation of Nigeria’s independence and it played a key role in the international image of African people, their life and personality. The high importance of the novel for the general definition of African culture and social order, as well as the role the book played in the period of the political changes in the region, serves as the perfect evidence of the outstanding value of the novel. That is why the book has to be studied, researched and analyzed.
The book concentrated on Igbo life and traditions. It pays attention to the specific rituals and customs as in such a way the readers can witness the comparison of the old and new, and feel the contrast that took place in the local African society of that period. The novel can be seen as both the explorations and judgment of the issue while showing the inner everyday life. In particular, there is a detailed analysis of the issue that was connected with the decent from power of the representative of this society. The character, Okonkwo, is highly motivated to escape the destiny of his father, an alcohol-addict, lazy and passive worker, and had a desire to gain high level of social status and reputation. His strong will helped him to rise up from the lowest social level to the highest one within the Umuofia region, where he lives with his wives and children as a farmer.
The main problem of Okonkwo is the desire to distance himself from the image and flaws of his father that begins to rule all aspects of his life. His priorities that refer to his inner world begin to impact all his decisions and views. The rage he has made him a perfect warrior, although in times of peace it is too difficult for him and his close people to communicate. He is extremely strict with his children and wives, he always requires more than he receives and, in addition, he is never satisfied with what he has. The continuing desire to have more and to achieve more does not have the particular target but can be seen as the process that is the main aim of itself. The problems he has communicating with his own children, whom he does not understand, make him decide to adopt a boy from another village. His new son perfectly fits the family and the character seems to get what he always wanted to have. Though, after several years passed, the elders decide that the boy has to be killed. But the Okonkwo’s desire to achieve more and the destructive fear to be like his father reaches the edge that finally defines the fall of the character as he refuses to listen to the people and refuse to take part in the death of his son.
The colonial rule brings to the regions serious changes in all spheres of life. One of the key roles here can be given to the impact of Christianity that had a serious influence on the Okonkwo’s son that was trying to find himself and his way in life. This struggle between the old and the new world is represented by opposing the village elder to the missioner. The new religion comes and this shift changes the character’s life, disorientates him completely. He shoots someone in one accident and, therefore, is exiled from the village for seven years. On his return, Okonkwo witnesses the complete change of life in his land. He now has no place in the world and his inner conflict together with the complete loss of all the priorities and motivations he had in life result in his decision to kill himself.
This final decision of the main character is grounded on his total misunderstanding of the new world that he has seen. He has no more aim to live in his homeland, and in the society in general, there is not the old social order, religion, policy or culture anymore. Everything has changed; all the life targets and values are ruined. His clan became weak as it does not fight against its enemies – the White men and, therefore, does not oppose to their religion, culture, policy and traditions. Okonkwo now sees that everything that he had in life is ruined as all his life was determined by the motivations that are now extinct and he has no place among his society members, his family and close people. All his life he was fighting for the aim that was no killed. And therefore he cannot find any other decision as to follow his targets and motivations and to kill himself. This issue is very complex as it represents both the African society and culture, the mentality of these people and the general human problems of seeking for the life purpose and the loss of targets and complete life disorientation in the times of structural changes in history. The final result is very ironic and represents the general circle of life and its processes, as Okonkwo in the end becomes the person that he was so afraid to become; as he is as his father – the disgrace to his society, the stranger to hos clan.
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