Examples of how the artist has disturbed the peace in the novel
In the novel “things fall apart,’’ there are various instances in which Chinua Achebe has distracted peace. The changes experienced later on was unexpected by the Igbo African community. The novel concentrates predominantly on the cultural, social and political set up of the Igbo community.
Therefore, the peace that Chinua Achebe disturbs is that of the traditional life of the Igbo society. The author illustrates the disruption of peace by the arrival of white-men in the Igbo community. Many changes are experienced especially when their leader Okonkwo returns from a seven-year exile and most of all when the white missionaries come into the community.
The peace that Achebe does disturb is that of including the intrusion of western culture on the Igbo African culture. Previously, a woman who gave birth to twins was considered bad omen and therefore treated as an outcast and the community rejected the twins as well. Nevertheless, the showing up of the white man and Christianity led to a change in this practice, the women who gave birth to twins were accepted back into the community and their children treated equally as all the rest were.
In another instance, Achebe tends to disturb the peace by rendering the traditional religion questionable by the whole community. An example being when the missionaries were given a piece of land in an area considered full of evil spirits. Many people in the community expected some bad omen to befall the white man unfortunately, nothing happened in a long while. Therefore, this led to a huge number of conversions into Christianity as people began to believe that the white man had super natural powers.
Before Okonkwo was exiled he had beaten up his wife for having forgotten to prepare him food and on another instance he did the same during the week of peace for which he faced a penalty (Achebe 89).This was a patriarchal society hence the women were always under the men, had to obey them as well as respect them. But the moment the missionaries stepped in, things changed as the women were taught that they were all equal in the eyes of their God and they should not allow their counterparts to look down on them.
Chinua Achebe brings about conflict when he describes clearly how everyone under the Igbo society is subject to the law. Under the traditional laws, no one is superior under any circumstance. For example, the leader Okonkwo had to face a penalty for beating up his wife during the week of peace.
Unfortunately, with the decent of the white man to the community some individuals seemed to be above the law. For instance, the white man himself had the power to execute and pass judgment over the indigenous community.
We also get to see that Okonkwo is a firm believer in masculinity. Therefore, he disliked how weak his father was for having a feminine name in the first place. Achebe brings out Okonkwo as a firm believer in male power he therefore ends up being very harsh. This as a result led to the withdrawal of his son from the family and into the warm embrace of the new religion. At some point Okonkwo began wondering how he “a flaming fire could have begotten a son like Nwoye” (Achebe 143).
Achebe further brings out the aspect of loyalty by his people when he was chosen to be their leader until he was exiled. He then suffers a big blow when he comes back to the sad realization that his people were no longer under him. The white man had taken over the leadership and no one was ready to listen to him.
His people let alone his son had betrayed him. Therefore, it is clear that the peace that existed had now been disturbed. It is clear that his clans’ men were not ready to fight against the white man. At this point, he ends up remembering the old days when “men were men” (Achebe 184).
In another instance, a white man had been killed by the clan elders who had previously consulted the oracle. After the consultation, they had been advised to get rid of the white man since he would soon be the source of problems in their society. The white man would lead to the disintegration of the traditional leadership system as well as other clans’. This led to further confrontation between the different communities.
Chinua Achebe shows that Okwonkwo goes ahead and agrees with Uchedu one of the village elders that people had committed an offense for killing the white man. They claimed that this was not right since they did not know anything about him yet they went ahead and killed him. On the other hand, towards the end of the novel we get to see that Okwonkwo gets mad now that his people had ignored his leadership and embraced Christianity and all it stands for.
In addition to all the changes that were taking place in the Igbo community, there was an escalation in the number of conflicts. For instance, the egwuegwu had to burn down a convert’s house including a church. Why so? This is because the convert known as Enoch had exposed the egwugwu hence they decided to retaliate.
The arrival of the white settlers clearly stirred up irrationality and violence among these people. Peace therefore became a far-fetched principle.
The Igbo community experiences many changes, which includes change in the social order. The missionaries came in and changed the way of life of Igbo community. These white people made the outcasts feel more important given the kind of treatment they used to receive from their fellow community members.
More so, the clan elders’ power was diminished by the arrival of the white missionaries. Therefore, the reintegration of the outcasts into the community in the beginning brought about a lot of disagreements but they were later on accepted by the rest of the people.
Being a leader, Okwonkwo chooses to commit suicide. This he does by fighting the white man all by himself given the betrayal by his followers as well as the clans’ men. The people’s betrayal as well as his very own son’s makes him so bitter he contemplates suicide. This on the other hand, violates the principles that the Christian missionaries are up against.
This to some extent brought about a number of misunderstandings. It is also evident that people never considered the killing of twins a wrong act. This is because it was considered to be a normal cultural act.
Was it really the fault of the missionaries that the peace in Igbo land was transformed according to Achebe?
As Achebe winds up in his novel, we get the notion that the social integration of the Igbo community is beginning to fall apart. People are no longer unified due to the introduction of Christianity. There are those that allow to get converted into the new religion but there are those who do not especially the older Igbo generation.
There is no longer central leadership since the white missionaries undermined this as very backward. The judicial system begin to change too as the missionary introduces a court system traditional laws are ignored and termed as barbaric.
The key factor therefor that leads to so many changes and conflicts in the traditional community is the introduction of Christianity. On the other hand there are other factors that led to the distraction of peace in Chinua Achebe’s novel. Christianity is not entirely to blame for the things that took place in the traditional society.
Before the emergence of the missionaries there were internal conflicts already, therefore it is only when they showed up that they escalated. For instance, Okwonkwo was being penalized for having being beaten a woman during the weak of peace.
There were changes in the political and social organization where instead of the people being united by the clan of elders from the nine different clans, the missionaries thought otherwise. Most of the work was done communally, for example, women did the building of houses among other things. However, the white man had a very different idea of doing things. Religion was an important unifying factor in this particular community. To the missionaries, this religion was based on superstition and promoted more evil than good.
Achebe,Chinua. Things fall apart. United Kingdom: William Heinemann Ltd. 1958.