Achebe Uses Many Proverbs in the Novel. Why Might he do This and What is its Effect?

30 Sep

In the book Things Fall Apart, many proverbs are used. These proverbs are often used to explain why the Ibo people do the things they do. For example on page 20 when we are told “…when a man says yes, his chi says yes.” This shows that chi governs the Ibo people however they can still make their own destinies. Another example is on page 8 when we hear, “The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.” This also helps reinforce the idea that the proverbs are used to explain the actions of the Ibo people. It explains how those who stand and work will feel the sunshine before others. This explains why the Ibo are so hard working and patient. In conclusion, the proverbs in Things Fall Apart are used to explain the choices the Ibo people make.

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3 Responses to “Achebe Uses Many Proverbs in the Novel. Why Might he do This and What is its Effect?”

  1. shaki99 September 30, 2010 at 12:33 PM #

    I think you need to work on the introduction. Maybe you can start it differently which grabs the reader’s attention. But you refered back to your quote or the proverb in order to explain the effect or purpose of the proverb. But you need to explain it in more broad extent. You also need to add more to the conclusion explaining how does the proverb have effect on the reader.

  2. aliyevyusif October 1, 2010 at 9:10 AM #

    There is a line in the book which states, “proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten”. Achebe makes it obvious to the reader that in Ibo language using proverbs was a sign of education and sophistication. Many times in the book we read of respected men using proverbs, because speech is crucial to a man’s figure. When the Ibo speak of the “the white man” they are described as speaking through the noses.

  3. Nwafor Chukwudi C. November 24, 2012 at 7:11 PM #

    In Igbo (Ibo) but the most correct is Igbo, proverbs indicates wisdom and it is used to convey a deep meaning by its simple words. with this use of proverbs a lenghty conversation is shortened. for example when Unoka’s deptor came in request for his money, Unoka replied with a proverb ” the sun shines on those who stand before it shines on those who sits” implying that he, Unoka, will first pay those who he owns larger dept before others. Do you read the response of Unoka’s Deptor ? Also in Igbo culture it is expected that every person especially the male gender should have a large vocaburary and meanings of proverbs not only because of its wisdom embodiment but also to show that that person is a good son of the soil. in Igbo culture it is stated that a person who asks for the meaning of proverb that the bride price paid on his/her mother is a waste.

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