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Cultural Adherence in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay

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To truly understand a culture and any person within it, one must first understand the family dynamics present. This understanding becomes exceedingly important when one is trying to understand a culture that is starkly different from his own. However, because of human nature, there are relationships that are common to all cultures, though the dynamics of these relationships may be different. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s extreme cultural adherence creates very distinct family dynamics as evidenced by the father-son and husband-wife relationships in the novel. Though his relationships are distinct, aspects of them are still present in today’s society.
Throughout his life, Okonkwo’s greatest wish is to be seen as the opposite of his father Unoka. “When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was heavily in debt. Any wonder then that his son Okonkwo was ashamed of him” (8). Okonkwo wants to be seen as strong, a provider, a leader. The desire to be better than one’s parents is still present in today’s society. Unlike Okonkwo, though, an increasing number of people are satisfied with bemoaning the sins of their parents and blaming everyone else for their problems instead of directly confronting the problems as Okonkwo did. In contrast to Igbo society, modern society is shifting to the mindset of reduced personal responsibility.
As with any family, relationship problems in Okonkwo’s family trickle down the generations. Just as Okonkwo is ashamed of his father, he is also ashamed of his oldest son Nwoye. Okonkwo fears a laziness in his son that was present in his father. However, Nwoye did receive one extremely important character trait from his father: determination. Nwoye is secure enough...


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...ving. Abandonment is the force behind almost all outrage, from fiction and Okonkwo to reality and modern families.
All families have problems, even the seemingly perfect ones. Okonkwo attempts to create what he believes is the perfect life throughout the novel but falls short because he fails to see the importance of his actions in familial relationships. Thus, he has no foundation on which to build his success. Families in modern society often encounter the same problems. They lack the ability to effectively establish, and change when necessary, their relationships in order to produce success. However, both in fiction and in life, the important idea is that families never stop trying. Okonkwo ultimately fails to keep trying, but the majority of actual families continue to persevere. This perseverance creates the distinction between fiction and real life.



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