The downfall of Ibo society is a product of both the white man’s external influence and increasing internal disunity. The situation is similar to that of a tragic hero whose tragic fall is necessitated only by the combination of a tragic flaw in his character and the uncontrollable forces working against him.
The novel Things Fall Apart is divided into three parts, the first is the longest, and the third, the shortest. The first part deals with the vindication of tribal life in Africa and the rise in power and authority of Okonkwo.
Although Umuofia is a fictional location, Achebe bases his descriptions of the “Ibo” tribesmen on his own experiences growing up in Ogidi in Nigeria, as well as his knowledge of the customs of nearby villages. Achebe, Chinua.
isa-ifi the ceremony in which the bride is judged to have been faithful to her groom. It is female ochu. Okonkwo’s accidental killing of Ezuedu’s son is considered manslaughter and therefore a female crime.
The Struggle Between Change and Tradition As a story about a culture on the verge of change, Things Fall Apart deals with how the prospect and reality of change affect various characters. The tension about whether change should be privileged over tradition often involves questions of personal status.
Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna because he doesn’t want to appear weak in front of his fellow clansmen. Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a village elder, informs Okonkwo that the Oracle has decreed that Ikemefuna must be killed but that Okonkwo should not be the one to kill him, since Ikemefuna regards Okonkwo as a father.
The lessons of Things Fall Apart are not generally uplifting or optimistic. It is, after all, a book about the degeneration and destruction of a society. One of its grimmest lessons is that force, not virtue, generally triumphs. Okonkwo is initially a success because of his strength and physical violence.
Okonkwo’s suicide is an unspeakable act that strips him of all honor and denies him the right to an honorable burial. Okonkwo dies an outcast, banished from the very society he fought to protect. The novel’s second tragedy occurs on the broader level of history.
Artistically the warning foreshadows the destruction and exile that follow Okonkwo’s killing of Ezeudu’s sixteen- year-old son. Okonkwo has inadvertently committed a crime. It is a female crime because it has been inadvertent. He must flee from the clan because the crime is against the earth goddess.
In achieving success, fame, and power, Okonkwo habitually resorts to and comes to rely on thoughtless violence. Without regard for consequences, Okonkwo acts – beats his son, repudiates his father, kills Ikemefuna, butchers the messenger. He becomes the epitome of violent action and as such ultimately destroys himself.
A tragic hero holds a position of power and prestige, chooses his course of action, possesses a tragic flaw, and gains awareness of circumstances that lead to his fall. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw is his fear of weakness and failure. In his thirties, Okonkwo is a leader of the Igbo community of Umuofia.
Because the accidental killing of a clansman is a crime against the earth goddess, Okonkwo and his family must be exiled from Umuofia for seven years. He gives Okonkwo a plot of land on which to farm and build a compound for his family.
Uchendu (Okonkwo’s mother’s younger brother who took him and his family in) is relieved to learn that this murder is a female ochu, which means that it was an accident, therefore he must be exiled to the women’s side of his family.
They build homes and plant yams, but Okonkwo becomes depressed because of how his life has turned out. His uncle Uchendu, after helping to conduct a final marriage ceremony for his son and daughter-in-law, reminds Okonkwo to be strong and to recognize that life is not easy for anyone.
Nso – Ani: a religious offence of a kind abhorred by everyone. Taboo: a social or religious custom that prohibits a particular practice or the prohibiting of a particular person, place, or thing. Ochu: murder or manslaughter.