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Things Fall Apart Essay:

Things Fall Apart Essay

By Rachael Pye

8th Grade

In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the impacts of imperialism on the Igbo people from an Igbo’s point of view are explained. We can see the impact of imperialism through the evolution of the story which can be summarized as follows: Okonkwo, (the protagonist) is a very strict man; he does not want to seem weak. Okonkwo’s father was a weak man. Okonkwo hated his father and wanted to be nothing like him, this is why Okonkwo was strict and did not display love for anybody. In the novel, Okonkwo wants to become the most powerful man in Umuofia, (the village that the story is set in), but he accidentally kills a man at a celebration whilst he was shooting his gun, and is exiled for seven years. When he returns, the British have arrived in Umuofia and he has to start again, by building himself up, and taking back his former status.

In the novel, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, many different events occur, which display evidence that the British and the Igbo people were savage. It is the purpose of the essay to illustrate that the natives and the British were equally savage.

It can be seen, that the native men treated their wives and children poorly and the natives left twins in the “Evil Forest” to die when they were first born, these are two examples of the natives being savage. Two examples of the British being savage in the novel are; one, how they came into foreign lands and took the land from the native people, and two, when the British arrived in a place they imposed their culture in on the people. In this essay we will look further at the topic of savageness, beginning with the natives.

In the novel, “Things Fall Apart” Okonkwo, can be seen as a savage man. Okonkwo treats his wives and children very poorly because in the 1800’s, women had no rights, and it was part of the Igbo culture for the man “to rule his household with a heavy hand,”(Achebe 13). Okonkwo was a man who lived in fear of failure and weakness, and this is why he was such an imposing and unkind man. It was also part of the Igbo culture at the time for the man to be the leader of the house. This could also be one of the reasons, that Okonkwo was such an imposing and forbidding man. Okonkwo treated everybody, including his children, with contempt.

“So when he called Ikemefuna to fetch his gun, the wife who had just been beaten murmured something about guns that never shot. Unfortunately for her, Okonkwo heard it and ran madly into his room for the loaded gun, ran out again and aimed at her she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn. He pressed the trigger and there was a loud report accompanied by the wail of his wives and children,”(Achebe 39).

Here, we can see that Okonkwo was a rash man, who did not think about things before he acted. This leads to him being a savage man. This is one example of the natives being savage.

            When you look at the natives’ traditions, you can see that the Igbo thought twins were evil. When twins were first born, they were taken to the “Evil Forest” to starve to death and die. This is another act of savageness. The native people left twins to die because they thought they were evil.

“But each time she had borne twins, and they had immediately thrown away.”… “It was true they were rescuing twins from the bush, but they never brought them into the village. As far as the villagers were concerned, the twins still remained where they had been thrown away,” (Achebe 151,154).

Throwing twins away is a savage act because newborn babies can not fend for themselves or feed themselves, and babies will surely die if nobody takes care of them. Throwing newborn twins away is an act of “a brutal or vicious person,” (Oxford Dictionary). Above we can see two examples of the Native people acting savagely. It is also important that we look at savagery from the imperialist perspective.

            The British people came into Umuofia and, took the land from the Igbo people. The British people thought that it was reasonable for them to come into the African peoples land and take it for themselves. The reason that the white people needed to take the land was because of the industrial revolution. During the industrial revolution, the British invented new technology and new machinery. They therefore needed more resources to create the new machinery, and to fuel the machinery, and technology. So they went to Africa, took the resources that were there, and they also took the land that the people had because of the different resources there.

“European rule led in time to the development in resources and raw materials for trade”…

“After a long uneasy truce between the Dutch and the British, tensions arose after the discovery of gold and diamonds in the late 1800’s. From 1899 to 1902 the Dutch and the British fought the Boer war for control of the region and its rich resources,” (Age of Imperialism 83). 

The British invading Africa is a savage act because the people there had their own way of life and, when the British arrived, they took everything away from the native African people. Therefore, it is shown that the British were savage and the British thought it was alright for them to go into different people’s homeland and take it from them. In colonizing different countries the British also imposed their own cultural values on the natives.

The British people thought that it was reasonable to impose their culture on the Igbo people because they thought that as Christians, they had the “White Mans Burden”. The white mans burden was a poem by Rudyard Kipling explaining that Christian people believed that it was their duty to go around and convert people to Christianity. They therefore, believed it was the right thing to do to invade the African people and impose their culture, language and religion on the people.

“There are no other gods,’ said Mr. Brown, (English missionary). “Chukwu is the only go and all others are false. You carve a piece of wood – like that one’ (he pointed at the rafters from which Akunna’s carved Ikenga hung), ‘and you call it a god. But it is a piece of wood,” (Achebe 179).

Here, Mr. Brown, who is a white missionary in “Things Fall Apart” is talking to Akunna, who is one of the greatest men in Umuofia. Mr. Brown is telling Akunna that his Gods are not real. Only Chukwu, (who is equivalent to the Christian God), is a real god. Mr. Brown, is therefore trying to convert and impose Christianity on Akunna. Imposing your culture on somebody else and telling the people that what they believe in is untrue, is an act of savageness as we can see above.

            From the different examples shown above, it is shown that both the natives and the British were both savage in different but equal ways. Finally, it can be seen that the native men treated their wives and children poorly and the native’s left twins in the “Evil Forest” to die when they were first born, these are two examples of the native’s being savage. Two examples of the British being savage in the novel are; one, how they came into foreign lands and took the land from the native people, and, when the British arrived in a place they imposed their culture in on the people and therefore the natives and the British were equally savage.

Works Cited page:

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.

 

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