The book Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe with the aim of depicting a lower tribe in Nigeria. The book is thrilling because it narrates about the Igbo society.
Chinua Achebe uses Okonkwo when giving a detailed account of the Igbo society. Okonkwo was a focused man who wanted to avoid the mistakes of his father. Unlike his father who was spent all his life accumulating debts, Okonkwo was a focused man who aimed at improving his life. The book narrates the importance of associating with the Igbo culture.
Therefore, a reader can connect with society through the use of language and imagery. For instance, the back of the book contains a glossary of Ibo words which are used throughout the story to emphasize cultural and traditional values. Furthermore, Chinua applies literary devices such as irony, symbolism, and imagery to give more light on the colonization of Nigeria by the British. Achebe addresses various issues including colonialism, ambition, social integration, belief and fear of the Igbo society. His superb use of commanding language is evident in the book. Achebe uses vivid description, proverbs, and other stylistic devices to transmit the message of the book to the readers. Also, the book gives an overview of the economic and social benefits of colonialism on the Igbo society.
Thesis: The linguistic and literary dimensions of culture used by Chinua Achebe illustrate that language plays a vital role in the daily lives of the Igbo people. The society used language in all aspects of their lives including religion, punishment and depicting gender inequality and patriarchy.
Thus, the paper discusses how Igbo people used language in diverse spheres of their lives.
Language is a vital element in the daily lives of Igbo society. In spite of the existing stereotypes by the Europeans that Africans were silent, Achebe depicts that oral tradition still exists in the Ibo culture. Occasionally, the author used Ibo words to emphasize the proverbs. When colonists arrive in the Ibo society, they find it difficult to interact with the society members due to the language barriers. Moreover, the translators do not succeed in solving the problem. At one particular situation, the translator confuses between the words “my buttocks” and “myself” (Chinua 147). This situation can symbolize mockery to the British invaders who thought they could easily take advantage of the Africans because of their illiteracy. The Europeans held the perception that Africans could not communicate effectively. Nevertheless, when they entered Nigeria, they became language victims since they could not effectively connect with the people who spoke Ibo. Achebe succeeds in depicting that the Ibo society had a language and an oral tradition like that of the Europeans. Thus, a European should be ready to experience trouble when understanding a foreign language just like the Africans do. Ibo people use the Ibo language when interacting on a daily basis both when harvesting and carrying out religious rituals. They felt pride in their language which enhanced their cohesion among themselves despite the intrusion of the Europeans. At one point, the people made fun of Mr. Brown’s translation since it was different from their language. Moreover, the Ibo language created a sense of identity among the Ibo people. Thus, the cohesion created enabled them to cope with the increased pressure from the Europeans to understand English.
Furthermore, the novel focuses on the linguistic dimensions of the culture. In this, it analyzes the issues of religion, gender inequality, and punishment in the Igbo society. Gender inequality and patriarchy are prominent issues in the Igbo society. In the first chapter, it is evident that Okonkwo associates affection with weakness which is in turn associated with femininity. This is because he viewed his father as pathetic since he did not provide to his family. Thus, he did not qualify to be a man in the opinion of Okonkwo. Moreover, the word agbala is used frequently in the novel to infer to a man or woman who did not have titles. This is not a coincidence since the two ideas have a similar word. This portrays that males in that man dominate the Ibo culture without power or title is compared to a woman. Achebe says “Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate told him that his father was an agbala” (Chinua 13). The novel also focuses on the idea of patriarchy where the man was seen as the provider and head of a home. A man was even supposed to enjoy all the rights including the privilege to be in power. Through the use of agbala Achebe demonstrates to people how male dominance in the Western and European culture is still evident in Ibo society today.
The novel entirely emphases on the construction of a society. Ibo society has diverse social elements compared to Europeans. These elements include cultural values, language, and religion. Due to the invasion of the British Christian colonialist, the Ibo people do not have a particular form of worship. They believe in Evil Forest and Oracle representing Hell and Heaven respectively. They also talk to their ancestors and use their inner chi to guide them in their lives. Efforts by colonialists to build more churches and preach different religious beliefs to the Ibo people did not succeed (Chinua 133). Ibo people found it difficult to understand those views since they beheld Christianity from a literal point of view. They, therefore, continued practicing polytheism which is the belief in many gods.
Additionally, the Ibo people had a similar way of dealing with crimes as Western Civilization. Often, they held ceremonial gatherings which represented the courts when making a judgment about a particular crime. For instance, Okonkwo is exiled from the community for seven years after he had murdered a clansman. After his return, Okonkwo killed a colonialist and hanged himself before he could be tried (Chinua 172). This justice system shows that the African culture has not evolved as that of the Europeans. Although they have the same belief system, they apply diverse traditions when practicing the beliefs.
The novel is exceptional because it depicts how Ibo people struggled and succeeded during colonization. Initially, Ibo people were able to hold to their culture or religion, punishment and gender inequality vices until things fell apart. Their language was critical because it gave them the sense of identity which in turn helped maintain cohesion in the society. Achebe used the story of Okonkwo to show how Africans can conquer the stereotypes held by the Europeans. In the end, Ibo people had to abandon their culture and adopt a new lifestyle and way of governance as stipulated by the colonialists. At this stage, there was the destruction of the rich African heritage due to the introduction of a new regime. Therefore, the book Things Fall Apart provides good lessons on the history and evolution of the African culture.