Cultural Change Explored in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay

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William James, a famous American philosopher, once stated, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives”. This quotation effectively illustrates how change in one’s attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs can alter the environment in which one lives. This concept is clearly demonstrated throughout the novel Things Fall Apart, authored by Chinua Achebe, by establishing a connection through the development of its characters and the change in traditional African tribal villages seen in the Nineteenth Century. It will be established how various characters demonstrated by the author throughout the novel exemplify how change in one’s attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs can alter the environment in which one lives addressed by William James’s quote above. First, by analyzing Achebe’s development of Okonkwo’s character through his initial character description and the emergence of outsiders, it is evident that he is portrayed as an old fashioned character that is less responsive to change. Secondly, through examining Nwoye’s character, Okonkwo’s son, it becomes apparent that the youth in the novel are more open-minded, easily persuadable and more adaptive to societal changes. Lastly, uncovering the meaning behind the arrival of European missionaries, it becomes apparent that Achebe defines this group as being a “disease”, poisoning the society in which Okonkwo lives. The author look’s at individuals as being critical and influential figures in shaping the environment to which they belong, beginning with Okonkwo.
Okonkwo, the main character in Achebe’s novel, begins as an individual who holds great power in the Umuofi...

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...adaptive to change. Lastly, by observing the invasion of European Missionaries, it becomes clear that these people are a ‘disease’ poisoning the society of African tribes according to Okonkwo and many others. Change can be truly classified as a positive or negative aspect in the lives of countless African men, women and children, but is the change in African tribes for the better or for worse?

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: Heinemann New Windmills, 1958. Print

Kortenaar, Neil Ten. “Becoming African and the Death of Ikemefuna.” Web. EBSCOhost.
EBSCO industries: 21 Mar. 2005. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2010.
Opata, Damian U. “Eternal Sacred Order versus Conventional Wisdom: A Consideration of Moral Culpability in the Killing of Ikemefuna in Things Fall Apart.” Web. EBSCOhost. EBSCO industries. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2010.

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