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Mr. Nattanon Veerakul 1209 Mr.Laurin Werner December 2, 2018 Impacts of the Arrival of White Men in Chinua Achebe’s Thing Fall Apart Things Fall Apart is a novel published in 1958 by Chinua Achebe, who is a Nigerian author. The story is centered around the life of Igbo people in the village of Umuofia. Strong culture and religious belief are shown throughout the story from the very beginning until the end. However, the significant changes take place when the white missionaries arrive and spread on their religion. Not long after the settlement of the missionaries in Umuofia, many Igbo people convert to the religion of Christianity which is introduced by the white men. The Igbo society and culture heavily impact as a consequence of these changes that take place. The changes gradually emerge to the point that the tradition of Igbo is near to being abandoned. Okonkwo, the main character of the story is also driven into great distress due to these changes. The issue of colonialism by the western is encountered by the Igbo people who primarily dominate the society. A conflict also arises due to these slightly alterations. Achebe also portrays the vulnerability and the imperfections of the Igbo society which is replaced by the new culture of those white men. The impacts of the Western colonialism is also pointed out in the story. In Thing Falls Apart, written by Chinua Achebe, illustrates the visiting of the white missionary which creates an effect on the Igbo culture and their society.

Okonkwo is struggling between tradition and the change produced by white people. In the book religion is vital to the people in Umuofia, the people in the village believe in only one religion. However, after the visiting of white people, the concept that there is only one religion genuinely change. This new religion is Christianity. This new religion is unacceptable to Okonkwo. The first example as stated that “They are fools’ said Okonkwo after a pause. “ They had been warned that danger was ahead. They should have armed themselves with their guns and their machetes even when they went to market” (Achebe, Pg.140). According to Thing Fall Apart when Obierika visits Okonkwo for the first time after he was exiled, he brought a bad news to Okonkwo, that the white men had destroyed Abame. He blames the people of Abame initiate the destruction of their own town. When Okonkwo came back to his town, he is shocked by all the changes in his homeland, stated in the quote that “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. Moreover, it was not just personal grief. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who has so unaccountably become soft like Women.” (Achebe, Pg.183). Furthermore, there is a big circumstance that makes Okonkwo wants to kill his son. “One morning Okonkwo’s cousin, Amikwu, was passing by the church on his way from the neighboring village when he saw Nwoye among the Christians. He was greatly surprised, and when he got home he went straight to Okonkwo’s hut and told him what he had seen…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, ‘Where have you been?’ he stammered… ‘Answer me roared Okonkwo, ‘before I kill you’” (Achebe, Pg.151). From this quote when Okonkwo heard the fact that Nwoye goes among Christian, he gets furious and about to kill his son. Through this, it indicates that Okonkwo is hated Christian, but now that his son has converted to Christians, leads Okonkwo to be deeply depressed and falls apart.

Religion is the primary motivation which tremendously motivate the people to fight one another. “In the Crusades, getting the Holy Land back was the goal, and any means could be used to achieve it. World War II was a crusade.”(Stanley Hauerwas, n.d). 0 middle ages. The most important campaign in the Crusade war was to reclaim the holy land between Christian and Muslim. “Men fought for their religion, the prospect of booty and because their friends and fellow tribesmen were also doing it.”(Hugh Kennedy, 2001). This quote refers to the Muslim Conquest. The Muslim community desires to expand their boundaries from Persia to Spain then drive further into Europe, it also causes numerous dying of the people. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo the capital character regrouped their tribesmen to go against the white invader by burning the church, leading to the tension between the white people and the Igbo people and the beginning of the war. This is evident when the writer states “The band of egwugwu moved like a furious to Enoch's compound and with machete and fire reduced it to a desolate heap. And from there they made for the church, intoxicated with destruction.”(Achebe, Pg.138). This is the initial big move in which the Umuofia people make against the white men, who invade into their territory. The reason why all they assembled together to burn down the church is due to the conflict provoked by Enoch, one of the Christian converts; thus, Enoch disdains the high value marked of the tradition. From this, we realize that everyone has their own religion which they are proud and respect. However, if they are religion differs and they disrespect, that mean Igbo people will automatically fight back.

The new religion brought by the white men influenced the Igbo culture, society and the clan people’s perspective toward their own culture. “The primary works of culture result from religious motivation and committed to a religion end.” (Why do Cultures Develop Differently?. n.d.). It is shown that every work of culture is dedicated to their gods. Religion

does not only create effects on culture, but it also shaping people perspective of people in society. In Things Fall apart, the western white men arrive in Umuofia, many changes take place and things are really falling apart. Christianity, the new religion introduced by the white men, heavily impact the traditional Igbo culture as well as alter the perspective of the Igbo people toward their prior culture and belief. This is evident when the writer states “Before the coming of the white men, decisions are made by the heads of the clan, the men with high titles. But now, these men have lost their place and there is the police to pass laws and give final verdicts and punishments.”(Ukessays, 2016). This suggests that the traditions of Umuofia have vanished. Moreover, there are no strict rules and control the decisions that were made. However, after the white men conquested the clan totally changed. They created the government and published the policy and regulate a country themselves. The evidence that shows the influence of the new religion toward the Igbo culture is demonstrated on page 133, stating “More people came to learn in his school, and he encouraged them with singlets and towels. They were not all young, these people who came to learn.”(Achebe, 1958). This explains how white men do not only come to spread their new religion, they also come to promote their education, as the establishment of school in the village. On the other hand, men were charged for their masculine in the meantime woman and children stay home doing household things, People attitude have changed toward the new religion and culture. This is demonstrated by “Three converts had gone into the village and boasted openly that all the gods were dead and impotent and that they were prepared to defy them by burning all their shrines.” (Achebe, Pg. 116). From this, we realize that the Igbo people who strictly respect to the clan have converted to Christianity. People in Umuofia currently have no fear even the greatest man in the village. Everyone in the clan relies on the god. “and beliefs of the Igbo clan. These converts know that they are protected by the white men and the feeling that they have a ‘Greater good’ than the Igbo.” (Ukessays,2016).

In conclusion, numerous effects are shown after the settlement of the white missionary in the land of Umuofia. This heavily impacts the traditional culture as well as the society itself. The population of the clan are negatively suffering from the changes that take place, division among the clan people also arise and changes overwhelm the society as well as how people view their own culture.

References Achebe, C. (1959). Things fall apart. New York, New York: Penguin Books.

Essays, UK. (November 2013). The Influence Of Christianity On Culture Religion Essay. Retrieved November 23, 2018,


Sunkara, A. (10 March 2014). Things Fall Apart. Retrieved from January 6, 2019, from

Jerome, B. (1994). The Art Of Fiction, No.139. Retrieved November 23, 2018, from

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