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Published: 12-09-2019

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How Chinua Achebe Uses Settings In His “Things Fall Apart”

Maybe one of the most influential elements of literature, a setting might potentially dictate the plotline of a story, establishing culture, tradition, and a backstory. Chinua Achebe’s Items Fall Apart sees an African world that largely revolves around the geographical location of Nigeria this agricultural society serves as the vast foundation for a polytheistic religion and a reverence for the land itself. Not only are the values of the community of Umuofia meaningfully constructed upon this locational guideline, but the quite essence of the protagonist, Okonkwo, and his unparalleled mindset, originates from this venerable attitude. In turn, the author himself, Chinua Achebe, brilliantly shares a traditional culture that is inherently dependent on the land itself, and how it inevitably leads to a clash of civilization where items actually “Fall Apart”.

Chinua Achebe attempts, and succeeds, to share a exclusive African culture that is inevitably and blatantly primarily based on an agricultural society. Inside this culture, the great value of yams, palm oil, and the kola nut are demonstrated as forms of wealth. In the initial chapter of the book, Okonkwo is described as, “still young[,] but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife” (Achebe 3), which shows that his wealth is accompanied by his status as a farmer, and the amount of yams he possesses. As a result, the higher social standing of an individual is dictated by the quantity of land he possesses, and the fruitfulness of his agricultural labor. Simply because the weather and climate serves as a important defining factor in one’s financial prosperity, a polytheistic religion revolving about the elements of nature prevails as properly. A worry of the gods of nature are instilled within the members of this neighborhood, ultimately affecting the quite which means of life: to please the gods for one’s personal welfare. This strength of culture and value benefits in the creation of the protagonist, whose very ambitions would be rendered obsolete and worthless without the underlying culture that is created attainable by this land.

From the onset of the novel, Okonkwo establishes himself as a man of uncontested strength. He strives to the fullest to turn out to be the quite opposite of what his father when was: a man who was a “failure” in Okonkwo’s eyes. What constitutes as “failure”? In the context of this novel, Okonkwo’s father is poor and lacks the wealth that is measured in yams. This extremely wealth is only produced feasible by the ability of the land to generate yams. When Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, consulted a priestess back in the day, he mourns of his misery, “I also kill a cock at the shrine of Ifejioku, the god of yams. I clear the bush and set fire to it when it is dry. I sow the yams when the first rain has fallen, and stake them when the young tendrils seem […] when a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors, his harvest will be excellent or negative according to the strength of his arm” (Achebe six). The show of sacrifice towards the god of yams shows the omnipresence of their religion. Additionally, the Umuofian community avoids angering the gods at all costs and tends to make their fear blatant. When Okonkwo beats his wife throughout the Week of Peace, he is reprimanded, but not for the assumed motives of his abuse. Okonkwo is forced to repent, to stop his wrongdoing in spurring the gods to unleash their wrath on the community as a whole. This demonstrates a seemingly interconnected nature of each and every person for the welfare of the entire tribe, in efforts to preserve the very essence of the land and the life that reaps benefit and wealth from it.

Hence a clashing of two vastly diverse cultures leads to the inevitable downfall of Umuofia when the Christian missionaries make their lengthy-lived and vastly detrimental influence on an currently thriving society. Without the origin of an agricultural society, the European missionaries do not realize the greatness of a culture that is established upon foreign roots, as demonstrated by an interaction among Reverend Smith and Oberieka. The Christian missionary is unable to comprehend this polytheistic religion and ways of life had he been brought up in this physical environment, he would not have disregarded and demeaned the spiritual essence of nature as foolish. Thus it is noted that as Umuofia is situated in Nigeria, the missionaries originate from Europe. The outcomes of these contrasting settings are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Achebe’s really intent is founded upon the greatness of a culture that is ultimately destroyed by foreign powers who are unable to initiate any form of cultural diffusion. He details on this potent destruction, and how it destroys Okonkwo’s spirit and character at the finish, rendering him hopeless and to his untimely death. This nation setting of yams and gods of nature eventually sets a exclusive warrior culture that Achebe efficiently shares, justly glorifying a exclusive African community that is faithful at no ends to its quite origins.
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