Tag Archives: Things Fall Apart

Significance of Kola nut.

7 Oct

In Chapter 3, on page 7, in the novel Things Fall Apart, we are introduced to kola nut, which is a very significant object in the Ibo culture, as “who brings kola brings life”. Kola nuts, as well as palm-wine, is constantly mentioned in the book, especially during ceremonies, to focus on the traditional hospitality of the Ibo people. When Okoye came to see Unoka, to collect his debt, they did not start talking about it immediately and instead, Unoka proposed his guest kola, because it was a symbol of hospitality. They started arguing, because they couldn’t decide on who was to break the kola nut, until eventually Unoka “accepted the honour of breaking the kola”. This phrase included by Achebe in the beginning of the novel, when kola nuts are just introduced signifies how honorable and respectable it is, for a person to break a kola nut. Breaking a kola nut is a very spiritual process, as when Unoka broke the kola nut, he “prayed to their ancestors for life and health, and for protection against their enemies”, and Okoye drew some lines and his big toe on the floor, just for this short “ceremony”. Only after they have eaten, Okoye reminded him why he came to see Unoka. By this, the reader can see that kola nut is a very significant object in the Ibo culture, as it is also a symbol of respect to the guest and is offered on a regular basis, just like in other cultures, you offer your guest something to drink when they visit you, but however, the process of breaking it is more honorable and more spiritual.

The presentation of Mr Brown in Things Fall Part

7 Oct

In chapter twenty-one of the novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’, the reader is introduced to Mr Brown, a white missionary. Mr Brown is a symbol of any positive aspects of colonization. The character, Mr Brown, shows mutual respect towards the Ibo people, as shown on page 130 when the author remarks, “and so Mr Brown came to be respected even by the clan, because he trod softly on its faith”. Mr Brown shows understanding that in order to be respected by the clan he cannot impose his beliefs upon them. This is contrasted with the presentation of Mr Smith in future chapters who appears apathetic and uninterested in understanding the culture of the Ibo people. Mr Smith represents oppression and the negative elements of colonization. His name, Mr Smith, is a common British name, suggests a majority of colonizers acted in the same way as him rather than Mr Brown. Mr Brown also shows a sharing of ideas and culture when he and Akunna begin “talking through an interpreter about religion. Neither of the succeeded in converting the other but they learnt more about their different beliefs.” This exchange of ideas represents the exchange of ideas that is possible from the colonizer and the colonized.  Mr Brown is also has much in common with the colonized; a desire for peace. This is shown when the narrator remarks that “Mr Brown preached against such excess of zeal”. This suggests that Mr Brown is not extreme in his actions and is rather pacifistic in his belief. All of the actions of Mr Brown show the positive elements of colonization. He does not express a sense of superiority or make the Ibo people feel inferior, atypical of the other colonizers.

The Murder of the Sacred Python

6 Oct

In Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart”, the python is presented as a sacred animal in Ibo culture, because it is literally a symbol of the god of water. This python has its own way of being addressed, as well as a specialized ceremony if killed accidentally. On page 116, Achebe explains that the compensation for murdering a python is “…such as was done for a great man.” This compares the value of a python to that of a man and vice versa, implying just how essential it is in their culture.  The concept of the sacred python is first introduced to the reader in the later chapters of the novel, when an outcast (later implied as Enoch, the son of the snake-priest) kills the sacred python, an event that never crossed the minds of the Ibo people (hence their difficulty in determining the consequences).

As mentioned before, the python is what Achebe describes as an “emanation” (page 116) of the god of water; thus, to kill a python would be blasphemous. Consequently, conflict is initiated between the clan and the Christians. In this situation, the outcast represents the Christians, or colonizers, portraying their callousness and incongruity with “uncivilized”, less modern societies. On page 117, Achebe writes, “Such a thing could never happen in his [Okonkwo’s] fatherland, Umuofia.” The author has used irony here, because Okonkwo’s thought is later contradicted, when the missionaries establish themselves later in Umuofia as well. Another noteworthy point is that this event could potentially symbolize the death of the clan’s religion.

Chi and it’s significance in Ibo Culture

6 Oct

In “Things Fall Apart”, Achebe uses several literary elements to describe a particular character or a specific event in the novel. One of the literary elements in the novel is a motif. Achebe mentions about chi several times throughout the novel which makes “chi” itself a motif. Achebe uses chi as a motif because chi is considered as a significant symbol for the individuals and the Ibo culture as a whole. In Ibo culture, the Ibo people have a strong belief and greatly honor their chis. In Ibo society, in order to be successful in life, they have to be positive, have the right conduct and work efficiently to make their chi happy. On pg. 20, Okonkwo is described as successful and also tells us how he achieved his success. It also describes if his chi is bad or good: “At an early age he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler…..when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes strongly, so his chi agreed” (p. 20). This indicates that being competent and working efficiently instead of being lazy and giving up satisfies his/her chi in Ibo culture. Therefore Okonkwo is successful in life. Thus, it implies that chi is a significant part in Ibo culture because chi acts as an impetus that coerces people to act positively and be productive in their work that leads them to success.

‘Ikemefuna described as an ill-fated lad’

6 Oct

In the book ‘Things Fall Apart’ Chinua Achebe describes Ikemefuna as an ‘ill fated lad’. Behind the meaning of this description lie different literary elements that pay a great significance to the book, in general.

Before the author describes Ikemefuna in this manner, he writes about Okonkwo’s reputation and youth. He says, referring to Okonkwo, ‘He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife’. By saying these words, the author wants to show Okonkwo as a man who earned his good reputation by hard work and not family wealth. He also writes ‘And so although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest men of his time’ meaning that age was not the problem for him to succeed in life. ‘As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings’, by stating this proverb, the author means that being one of those boys who ‘washed their hands’, Okonkwo believed that he himself, could treat anyone in this manner if they ‘washed their hands’. He compares and contrasts Okonkwo’s youth against Ikemefuna’s who is later on described as an ‘ill fated lad’. Behind the description of Ikemefuna as an ‘ill fated lad’ lies foreshadowing which shows the readers that the fate of Ikemefuna is not fortunate, and there will be some event later on in the book that will prove the description right. As well as foreshadowing, the words ‘ill fated’ are a metaphor. ‘ill fated’ if translated correctly means a fate that is ill, therefore unfortunate.

Even though the passage where Ikemefuna is described is short, there lies a lot of significance that affects the book as a whole. If the readers would not have read those lines saying ‘the ill-fated’ lad, they would most likely not predict anything unusual happening to him in the future. And because this line foreshadows the coming of Ikemefuna’s unfortunate fate, the readers pay more attention to the way Okonkwo treats Ikemefuna later on in the book. They see how Okonkwo treats him like his own son, and for the first time it is seen that Okonkwo becomes interested in something more than simply power and physical strength.