Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


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Throughout History there has been a desire for main stream white culture
to explore and expand to new areas with many different objetives in mind.
Many were looking for new lands that had untold riches while others were
spreading cultural or religious beliefs in an attemped to gain support for
their beliefs. Some times this was a welcomed addiction to foreign
societies bring them new technologies and ideas to improve there life. But
it was just as likely that these new additions to their culture and
society would have a negative effect causing many peoples lives to be
changed for ever. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was a perfect example
of what effect new ideas and technology can have on societies that have
been isolated for generations and have created a unique culture and
society because of it. There were many changes that occured when white
explores came to Niger.
Umuofia Mbantu and the other local clans have been living in an isolated
society and culture for generations giving them plenty of time to adapted
and live in there envornment efficently. They had developed many
different religious beliefs that were different from the white Christian
culture that settled the area.
"You say that there is one supreme God who made heaven and earth," said
Akunna on one of Mr. Brown's visits. " We also believe in Him and call
Him Chukwu. He made all the world and the other gods." (Achebe, 179).
Even when trying to understand the Christian faith their religious
beliefs are so ingrained that they create cominalities that are not
really there. Akunna continues to talk about how the many gods they
worship are helpers of Chukwu because he can not do everything alone. But
that is were the problem is. By creating these gods to help Chukwu they
are creating false ideals to worship witch is against the christian faith
because they strictly believe in one God. " There are no other gods,"
saud Mr. Brown. " Chukwu is the only God and all others are false. You
carve a piece of wood-like that one and you call it a god. But it is
still a piece of wood." (Achebe 179). I find this conversation in the
book to be very interesting and can show many differences in their
culture. First Mr. Brown keeps trying to explain Akunna how their
realigion is wrong and not logical. But Akunna keeps trying to explain
how even though they are different they have things in common.

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To me this
shows how the white setlers felt that their religion is the right one and
everyone else is wrong. I believe this is a big motive in the spread of
the missionaries and white european culture. This is not only limited to
religion but can be seen in white explores attitude twords foriegn
cultures and societies in general.
There were many other parts of the local clans society that were changed
by white setlers. They created a court system and a government to keep
order and enforce the laws. "But apart from the church , the white men
had also brought a government. They had built a court where the District
Commissioner judged cases..." (Achebe 174). The white explores are
starting to take over. Now they can better control not only the people
that do not believe in them but they people who do as well. The white
setlers are doing what they can to create a culture that they feel is
best for everyone. This is not fair to a succesfull society that has
lived for generations with no problems. the white explores are taking it
in to there own hands to decide what is best for people who already know
what good for them. I believe it is unfair to go to a distant place where
you and your culture are a minority and tell the locals that they are
living a life of sin and evil and if they do not change we will make you.
Not only do the explores have no right to tell the locals what is right
and what is wrong, but to change there successful society just because
it is different is even worse. I can not agree with a group that takes
advantage of a society, tries to change it, and then say its for the
good of the local people. "As soon as the six men were locked up, court
messengers went into Umuofia to tell the people that their leaders would
not be released unless they paid a fine of two hundred and fifty bags of
cowries." (Achebe 195, 196). The white settlers, especially the
missionaries, came to sivalize the locals and spread there faith. But
instead they force the locals to change their way of life and then
threaten the locals lives if they do not obay. That does not sound like
what most Christians preach. Okonkwo and the other leaders were trying
to figure out a way to get their old culture and society back that had
been change ever since the white explores came. I believe that the
locals culture and society should not have been interfeared with by
white explores unless the locals wanted change in there lives. To me it
seems like the explores did not go ever there with any intentions to
help the people but instead to force their own cultural on the locals to
help spread their way of life and gain more control over people who are
not like them. " There was much else to include, and one must be firm in
cutting out details. He Had already chosen a title of the book, after
much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower
Niger." (Achebe 209). I believe that this last line in the story revials
exactly what they came to do and the length they would go to be
successful. The title of the book reviles the commissioners motive in
settling this part of the world. He believes that the locals are not
living life in a sivalized way. I think anyone who has such narrow
minded thoughts must not be very educated, espcailly when it comes to
what makes a successful society and culture. What works in one part of
the world does not always work in another. The first part of the last
quote that talks about cutting out details reviles what lenghts the
commissioner will go to be successful. I believe that Okonkwo did not
commit suicide but was hung by a support of the explores in an effort to
prevent Okonkwo from starting a rebelion. The white settlers provided
nothing for the locals and took everything causing old local tradtiion
to fall apart.
The many clans in the Niger area had created a successful society and
culture that helped them survive for generation after generation. The
arivle of white explores changed their culture in a way that it could
never recover. The locals could have continued living in their own
successful manor for centuries with out any nagative effects on societies
in other parts of the world. White explores feel differently. They felt
that these people need there help our they would never advance there
society and would all end up going to hell. But the white explores never
had a right to do this and were selfish in believing that they did. I
feel that they come off as uneducated and conceded because of the way
they try to change the local culture instead of learning from it. I
believe the locals could have been a much more successful society with
out the interfirance of white culture. I believe this is still true today
as well. I feel that our invasion into Iraq has had somewhat the same
effect. The differences in American and Middle Eastern cultures has
caused us to try and force them to be more like America, when in reality
the locals do not want to change their culture and they do not want use
there forcing them to. If we would try to learn from and get a long with
people in the Middle East instead of forcing them to comply maybe, just
maybe 9/11 would not have happened and all the lives lost in the war
could then be spared.


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