Essay on The Power Struggle in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

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The Power Struggle in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a powerful novel about the social changes that occurred when the white man first arrived on the African continent. The novel is based on a conception of humans as self-reflexive beings and a definition of culture as a set of control mechanisms. Things Fall Apart is the story of Okonkwo, an elder, in the Igbo tribe. He is a fairly successful man who earned the respect of the tribal elders. The story of Okonkwo’s fall from a respected member of the tribe to an outcast who dies in disgrace graphically dramatizes the struggle between the altruistic values of Christianity and the lust for power that motivated European colonialism in Africa and
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The Priestess Ezeani's warning to Okonkwo places the incident in perspective: "You have committed a great evil. . . . The evil you have done can ruin the whole clan. . ." (30). Ezeani's remark thus provides an anthropological explanation for Okonkwo's rash act. If a man's anger drives him to forget the collective whole, everyone will pay the price for that transgression if the gods retaliate and bring crop failure. Ironically, Okonkwo has already begun acting as an individual and not as a part of the community.
Homicide, murder, the spilling of blood--nothing could be worse in traditional life, except for prescribed events such as warfare and decrees by an oracle (Ikemefuna's sacrifice). Okonkwo has destroyed the invisible bridge between ritual and family, symbolic act and ties of kinship.

Okonkwo’s fate is sealed at the end of part one. At the funeral for Ezeudu in the final chapter of Part 1, Okonkwo--who in the previous chapter has just been described as "the greatest wrestler and warrior alive" (118)--accidentally shoots Ezeudu's son with his gun. "It was the dead man's sixteen-year-old son, who with his brothers and half-brothers had been dancing the traditional farewell to their father. Okonkwo's gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boy's heart" (124). Okonkwo's property must be destroyed, his houses burned, his animals killed. The earth must be

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