His depiction of the highly civilized cultures and traditions of the Igbo nation were a reply to Conrad's ignorant (but well meaning? (For more on this, like the Achebe essay and commentary on it, see the links section below.)Many critics see Things Fall Apart as a book with two narrators, one that adheres to tradition, and another with more modern views.
In his essay, Wright plays off Neil Mc Ewan's idea of the two narrative voices: the traditional/communal which dominates the first 2/3 of the book, and the individual/ modern which takes over the last third He claims that Okonkwo's stubborn resistance and deep need to wipe out his father's memory " are out of harmony with a society which is renowned for its talent for social compromise and which judges a man according to his own worth , not that of his father." (Wright, 78) Okonkwo resists change so much that he can't even accept it in others.
"If things fall apart is first a story of the disintegration of a traditional African society, it is also the personal tragedy of a single individual , whose life falls apart in the midst of that same process." (Booker, 69) But does Okonkwo fall because he represents the values of a culture that is disappearing, or because he deviates from that society's' norms?
Umofian society is very flexible; they compare their actions to those of their neighbors, always questioning and adapting. In fact, he is so adverse to changing that he cannot even accept it in anyone else.
But things start to change when Ikemefuma was killed.
Research Article Analysis Paper - Things Fall Apart Heart Of Darkness Essay
Up until that point, following the traditions of his society has only improved Okonkwo's situation.Wright claims that to the rest of his people, Okonkwo's recklessness and fanaticism is embarrassing.This is not as evident in the first 2/3 of the book, but in the modern narrator's voice, it becomes clearer how out of touch Okonkwo really is.But just as the title predicts, Okonkwo's plans for a perfect life go astray.Change is inevitable, and even the best laid plans go astray.When the choice comes to kill Ikemefuma, the shortcomings in tradition start coming through." Okonkwo can be seen as testing the limits of his society's integrity and exposing its real failure to provide for humane and compassionate feelings." (Wright, 79) He adheres so strictly to the rules that his example points out to others the flaws in the system.But Conrad does much worse; he describes Kurtz' mistress as "..savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent...She stood looking at us without a stir and like the wilderness itself..." It's no wonder that Achebe picks out this passage in his essay.Also offensive is when the narrator compares a native who was helping navigate the boat to a "dog in breeches." There is no end to the ways this is an irritating passage.Conrad's portrayal of the Africans as savage and uncivilized is part of what prompted Achebe to write his eloquent novel.