It is incredible how a single quote can encapsulate the main idea of an entire novel. Chinua Achebe, the author, puts the reader in Okonkwo and Obierikas shoes when their culture disintegrated before their eyes, and they let it happen. The novel takes place in the village of Umuofia in Africa.
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There, culture is based primarily on religion and established practice. Their religion was part of the Igbo culture and was polytheistic. However, at one point, white men arrived and tried to colonialize the clan by converting them to Christianity, a monotheistic religion. When the white men requested land to create a Church, Umuofias leaders purposefully gave them land in the Evil Forest, because that is the location where they would leave cursed people to die.
Therefore, the white men would be dead in only a few days. However, when they survived, people were astonished, and that gave the people of the Igbo clan a reason to doubt their religion and convert to Christianity. Okonkwo, the narrator, is a man with a great reputation in Umuofia, who is very traditional and expects a lot from his children and wives. He grew up with an effeminate, lazy father who had a poor reputation. He thought anyone with feminine qualities was weak, so he wished that all of his children were male. Furthermore, Okonkwo believed that his eldest son, Nwoye, was too feminine, and he was beaten for it.
Therefore, when Okonkwo realized that Nwoye converted to Catholicism, he reached his breaking point and even tried to choke him. Nwoye reminded Okonkwo of his father, which he wanted nothing to do with. We can also see how Obierika isnt immediately pointing his finger at any one person for the loss of their culture. He isnt only blaming the white men for twisting and changing their clan, but also blaming his brothers for letting it happen. For example, the people of the clan were the ones who let the white men in, gave them land, listened to them, and let them change their morals to the point where many converted. He uses the metaphor of the white man putting a knife on the things that held them together: religion, tradition, family, and culture.
As an effect, they have fallen apart because they were betrayed by their own family and friends who converted to Christianity. This quote overall shows Obierikas disappointment, rather than anger with the people of his clan. Thus, this novel shows how colonialism in Africa affected more than just history, but the people who were personally involved and how they were scarred. Even though Okonkwo was not a good father and husband because he put unrealistic and unfair expectations on everyone he knew, he had the respectable good intentions of not wanting to bring his father back into his life.
Furtermore, reading this novel, which is based on the nineteenth century, now in the twenty-first century, shows a young generation like mine how different life was in the past, especially in Africa. In fact, his novel may help the reader make sure that they ensure what theyre passionate about, and not let anyone change that.
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