There are a number of aspects in Chinua AchebeÆs (1986) Things Fall Apart that provoke a reaction from me. Two of the most significant of these are the impact of imperialism on a non-dominant culture and the different viewpoints held by different cultures with respect to gender.
Things Fall Apart shows the often decimating impact of colonialism on a conquered people. The Igbo culture is torn apart by British rule. This is primarily because any values, customs or rituals associated with the British are valued as ôsuperiorö to those of the consequentially ôinferiorö Igbo. The Igbo practices of agriculture, multiple wives, inter-tribal warfare and others signify strength and harmony with nature to the Igbo. Chief among their best is Okonkwo who is ôtall and hugeö and breathes so strongly while asleep his wives and children hear him from their outhouses (Achebe 1986, 3).
These vary same values are viewed by the British as savage and barbaric. Much more powerful and numerous than the Igbo, the British soon take over the land and culture. In place of the values and practices of the Igbo, the British impose their own practices and values. From imposing the manner of conducting business to the manner of practicing religion, the British colonialism of the Igbo people acts like a knife that renders the solidarity of the Igbo community. Things fall apart as the Igbo helplessly watch the outsiders consume their lands and even their culture and identity. Even Okonkwo is fearful of the ôevil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and clawö (Achebe 1986, 13).
Another strong reaction spurred in me by Things Fall Apart is the differences between cultures with respect to gender. The Igbo males are dominant in the culture, including the taking of multiple wives and a penchant for wife beating. Women remain a significant part of the labor force