In analyzing Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, the main theme in relation to post-colonial theory is the identity of individuals at a personal and community level. This theory seeks to understand how an individual’s character affects their surroundings.
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The lens is a means that enables critics or students of literature to be able to focus on certain aspects of an author’s work that may seem more important than others. It also focuses on how these aspects affect and relate to the modern society compared to the time the book was published.
In Chinua Achebe’s work, we use the lens to analyze the pre-colonial society of Umuofia. We further analyze the individuals and how their actions and activities affect the society’s social culture in relation to the post-colonial society of today.
Thus, in “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe succeeds in presenting the internal struggles of the main character Okonkwo and how he fights the arrival of the white missionaries in his community. The character of Okonkwo is highly dramatic but also a true reflection of the pre-colonial era of the West African country of Nigeria.
Okonkwo is the main character in the story and a well accomplished fighter in the village of Umuofia (Chinua 2004 p. 8). His achievements as a fighter are well known to the other clans and villages and this makes him very respectable in his society.
Therefore, Okonkwo is used to identify and relate the reader to the culture of the Igbo and their social way of life. It is evident that this society values getting together through activities such as wrestling as the main source of social interactions.
This is also the case in the current post-colonial society where individuals cherish getting together through sporting activities such as football games, wrestling and athletes. It is through such activities that one can easily profile a society’s identity.
Furthermore, Chinua Achebe explores the scramble for African states by the British and other colonial powers. As the reader explores the text, they get to realize that the presence of the colonial missionaries in Umuofia was an innocent missionary activity at the beginning which later changed as the missionaries later became interested in governing the people of Umuofia.
The promise of a better life in Christ leads many villagers to convert to Christianity; this angers Okonkwo who sees this as a ploy by the colonialists to divide the previously tight ties between the clans (Achebe 2004 p. 55).
This theme is reflected in the post-colonial era where developed countries still scramble for resources from developing countries in Africa. They do this through the provision of donor aid that enables them to gain control of the states and their resources indirectly.
Okonkwo resists the entrance of the missionaries in their clan of Umuofia. He is seen as the black sheep since most members of the clan have embraced Christianity.
His resistance to their entry leads him to kill one of the white administrators, and he is unable to handle the pressure he faces due to the pending murder charges (Achebe 2004 p. 88). This drives him to commit suicide and the previously celebrated Okonkwo dies an outcast and a shame to the society.
This theme is reflected today especially on how the members of the current post-colonial generation deal with stress. The same way in which the people in the pre-colonial days committed suicide when unable to handle the pressure from society is still being reflected among the young generation of the youths who lack proper guidance and in some instances even the mature adults commit suicide.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York, NY: Anchor Books, 2004. Print.