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How does Chinua Achebe show two different cultures in Things Fall Apart?

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How does Chinua Achebe show two different cultures in "Things Fall Apart"? 'Things Fall Apart' is a novel that links two different cultures from contrasting backgrounds using many literary devices and a knowledge of traditions and ways of life. Chinua Achebe skilfully weaves these two cultures together to create a story full of diversity and understanding. The characters in this novel help the reader see the distinct cultures from various points of view. Okonkwo is a apt example for the Igbo culture as he has very negative views against the missionaries. When Okonkwo learns that the sacred python had been killed by a Christian convert, Okonkwo insist that his mother's kinsmen and himself must retaliate : " Everyone in the assembly spoke, but in the end it was decided to ostracise the Christians. Okonkwo ground his teeth in disgust." Okonkwo is extremely bitter after this decision. This extract shows that Achebe wanted to outline Okonkwo's opinion from the rest of his mother's kinsmen. Because Okonkwo represents what the European missionaries see as a stereotypical masculine African native, blood-thirsty and savage, the missionaries are seen from his negative view throughout the book. ...read more.


An example of a direct culture clash is when Enoch, a Christian convert, rips the mask off an egwugwu, one of the greatest crimes a man could ever commit: " Enoch had killed an ancestral spirit, and Umuofia was thrown into confusion." This shows a major difference in cultures as the Umuofians had never experienced such an atrocious act before in their relatively harmonious village. Using this, Achebe puts across the naivety of the Umuofians by presenting something as simple as taking off someone's mask into something so utterly abhorrent as shown by the egwugwu's reaction later in the text. The ways of life are the most distinct characteristics between the Igbo and the European cultures. In the Igbo culture, the Umuofians live alongside nature and are heavily reliant upon it. Many villagers depend on the harvest for titles, to gain wives or even their lives: " That year the harvest was sad, like a funeral, and many farmers wept as they dug up their miserable and rotting yams. One man tied his cloth to a tree branch and hanged himself." ...read more.


Most villagers are also humorous as seen in a clash of languages. The different languages make it difficult for cultures to communicate with each other, often poor translation leads one another misinterpreting each others thoughts and actions. This tends to lead to each culture making assumptions about one another. For example, during Chapter Fifteen, the missionaries speak to the Umuofians through an interpreter. Although he is an Ibo man, his dialect is from a different region and he used words incorrectly: " Many people laughed at his dialect and the way he used words strangely. Instead of saying 'myself' he always said 'my buttocks'." This quote shows that although the missionaries believe that the Igbo language and the Igbos themselves are native, savage and strange, by displaying the Igbos sense of humour and their extensive language, Achebe shows that the Igbos are much more sophisticated than the missionaries could comprehend. By unravelling these two cultures from each other, The reader can begin to see the colourful characteristics that define them. But when they are woven back together, Chinua Achebe forges a narrative where the cultures work in harmony to enlighten the reader of the complexity of our world and its cultures. ...read more.

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