Things fall apart free essay sample

The novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs, customs and also about conflict. There is struggle between family and within culture and it also deals with the concept of culture and the notion of the values and traditions within a culture. The word culture is Latin and means to cultivate. To cultivate has several meanings; it can mean to plow, fertilize, raise and plant, to win someone’s friendship, woo and take favor with, to ingratiate oneself with, to better, refine, elevate, educate, develop and enrich.

In Things Fall Apart all these words are accurate in describing the culture of Umuofia. A culture is an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning and the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize a group of people. Each culture consists of different generations.

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The traditions, the rituals, values, and beliefs are passed on from parent to child; this is how a culture survives.

The parent generation shapes the child generation’s views and beliefs. Unoka, Okonkwo and Nwoye are symbolic of three successive generations and therefore, each represents a part within a culture. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe draws on three generations to demonstrate the progress and change the culture undergoes. Unoka represents the beginning of Umuofia’s culture. Unoka is the beginning of a generation. The notion of him shapes the next two generations and carves their views and beliefs as to what a culture should be.

Similar with a culture; the first generation sets up standards, rituals and habits to which the next generation may or may not approve, but no matter the approval the next generation is shaped by the first generation. Unoka is in a way the baby culture, he has yet to grow and yet to learn. He is “ quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow”, (Achebe 4). Unoka is very easy going and lazy, but he still gets by with the help of his culture, even though the people are very irritated with him and Unoka “ always succeeded in borrowing more, and piling up his depts”(Achebe 5).

The culture helps him get by, just like a new culture needs to develop and evolve with the help of others. It is in the process of being shaped. Okonkwo represents the developing culture. Okonkwo is the next generation. His ideas of what a culture should be are based on his father, or the lack thereof. In a sense Unoka is the mother culture and Okonkwo is the baby culture, who learns not to be like Unoka because Unoka’s way is wrong according to Okonkwo. He “was ashamed of [Unoka]” (Achebe 8). Okonkwo tried so hard to be strong and powerful, and not follow in his fathers “lazy and improvident” (Achebe 4) ways.

He tries not to be like Unoka because, according to Okonkwo and Okonkwo’s culture, Unoka is weak and Okonkwo blocks out any sign of weakness or emotions, so he will not end up like his father. Unlike his father “ Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things” (Achebe 8). But in the end, ironically that is exactly what he ends up being. The mother culture shapes the baby culture, it tries to nurture it in its own ways, but sometimes the baby culture’s view is shaped through the people not through the mother, in this case father.

Because Okonkwo’s idea of a culture is so straight-laced and precise it is impossible for him to achieve, the in his eyes, utopian culture. Nwoye represents the clashing culture. Okonkwo’s culture went too much in one direction, which caused imbalance in the culture. Nwoye’s culture is yet again shaped by the previous generation, Okonkwo’s culture. He ends up showing the same traits as his grandmother culture, just like his father did, and the mother culture does as well, however it is clearer with Nwoye than it is with Okonkwo.

Okonkwo cannot deal with the fact that his succeeder is not what he wants him to be “Nwoye turned round to walk into the inner compound when his father, suddenly overcome with fury, sprang to his feet and gripped him by the neck” (Achebe 151). Okonkwo’s culture tells him to beat what he cannot fix, this idea evolved from his father, his mother culture and the lazy ways that came with it. The major factors that shape Nwoye’s view on a culture are his father, his mother culture and the white man. Along with Christianity he completely destroys the values of Okonkwo’s culture.

“ Nwoye had been attracted to the new faith from the very first day, but he kept it a secret”(Achebe 149). Nwoye is too afraid of his father, as is, symbolically the clashing culture afraid of the mother culture and the outcome of the clash. The notion of the white man, along with Christianity assimilates Nwoye and his culture. And the factors above shape the view of what he wants a culture to be. Each individual culture; Unoka, Okonkwo and Nwoye’s culture, and the factors; Christianity and the white man, in the end, lead back to the mother culture of the culture, Unoka’s culture.

No matter how hard they try to deny and avoid the mother culture, they still end up with the same traits, beliefs and customs as the mother culture does. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe draws on three generations to demonstrate the progress and change the culture undergoes. Unoka, Okonkwo and Nwoye are symbolic of three successive generations and therefore, each represents a part within a culture. The parent generation shapes the child generation’s views and beliefs. This is how the culture survives; passing on the culture throughout generations.

A culture is an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning and the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an a group of people. There is struggle between family and within culture and it also deals with the concept of culture and the notion of the values and traditions within a culture. The novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs, customs and also about conflict.

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