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Things Fall Apart Themes - the Skirmish Between Change and Tradition

Autor:   •  August 10, 2011  •  Essay  •  321 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,343 Views

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The Skirmish between Change and Tradition

As a story about a culture on the threshold of transformation, Things Fall Apart deals with how the prospect and authenticity of change disrupt various characters. The anxiety about whether change should be privileged over tradition frequently involves questions of personal status. Okonkwo, for example, opposes the new political and religious orders because he senses that they are not manly and that he himself will not be manly if he concurs to join or even tolerate them. To some degree, Okonkwo’s confrontation of cultural change is also due to his apprehension of losing societal status. His sense of self-worth is reliant on the traditional standards by which society adjudicates him. This system of evaluating the self inspires many of the clan’s outcasts to embrace Christianity. Long scorned, these outcasts find in the Christian value system a haven from the Igbo cultural values that place them below everyone else. In their new community, these converts enjoy a more eminent status.

The villagers in general are caught between battling and incorporating change and they face the dilemma of trying to conclude how best to adapt to the reality of change. Many of the villagers are enthusiastic about the new opportunities and techniques that the missionaries bring. This European influence, however, looms to smother the prerequisite for the mastery of conventional methods of farming, harvesting, building, and cooking. These traditional methods, once critical for survival, are now, to varying degrees, expendable. Throughout the novel, Achebe shows how dependent such traditions are upon storytelling and language and thus how quickly the neglect of the Igbo language for English could lead to the extermination of these traditions.

Varying Elucidations of Masculinity

Okonkwo’s relationship with his late father silhouettes much of his ferocious


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