Significance of “Things Fall Apart” as a Social Document (Traditional Igbo Life)
Discuss the significance of Things Fall Apart as a social document and a novel dramatizing traditional Igbo life and its first encounter with colonialism and Christianity at the turn of the twentieth century.
There is no doubt in this fact that “Things Falls Apart” is definitely a clear representation of Igbo society. Chinua Achebe is not only an illustrative of reality but also a person who narrates his story in a chronological order. In the novel, the interest of reader increases with the passage of time and he inquires the real meaning of society and culturalism. When we read the novel, we imagine that we are living in a society which has his own social norms, ways and standards. For instance, we are well aware about the traditions of the Umoufian society which is not complete but has his own values and customs to spend life.Although their life is materialistic yet it is a society, which has his own rules to pass their time in most pleasurable way. The writer, namely Chinua Achebe, does not only present the good manners of that society but also depicts its bad habits, which are existing in their culture. By reading the novel with great interest, we are well aware with the fact that Chinua Achebe does not have any element of romanticism in it. He is far away from presenting a Utopian world but what he depicts is totally based on realism and it is the only element which is need of modern readers.
African peoples are always full of doubt for other societies of the world regarding the matter that whether they are aware with “Culturalism” or not. Chinua Achebe is the only person, who reveals to the world and forces the people to look towards African people great interest. He is the one, who shows the world that though they are not much civilized yet they are well aware with culturalism. They may not be better than other peoples but they have their own methods of living and enjoying life. They are not too much different the other societies, as they were also spending the life, which was mixture of good and evil. Everyone has his own differences about life and culturalism. They were different in the sense that Igbo society was spending a materialistic life in which the value of a person depends on titles which he wins in his life or on the quantity of yams he produces. The society which is male dominant society but their chief goddess is a female. The society which loves the children but hates the twins. The society, in which the life of every individual is based on his own values.
Igbo society was the happiest society, as presented in the novel, but ends with a sorrowful an unusual incident. The whole prosperity changes into scarceness with a bullet fired by Okonkwo’s gun. When he inadvertently kills the boy, life changes and he was expelled for several years. It was the time when Christians overpower the Igbo society and risk was at the peak for Igbo culture. The encounter of Okonkwo’sson in form of converting to Christianity was the first incident, which was the reason to varnish the Igbo culture in a new system. It was the time, when the Christians dominant the whole society and Okonkwo becomes helpless in front of those invading forces, came here, just to kill his cultural background.
Admittedly, it can easily be justified that it is the only Igbo society that is presented in the novel by the Writer. He shows us some of the events, through which we recognize that it is the end of Igbo society. The reality is presented in the form of art, the art of words, known as the literature. We are well aware with the facts that the novel is based on reality and there is no exaggeration in it. The writer has written this novel not preferring anyone. Though he was from that society yet he portrayed everything sincerely without favoringanyone. It is pertinent to mention here that a literary writer is not just a sharerof events and reality but he portrays it in view of his own artistic qualities. As Aristotle says that a writer imitates the reality by using creativity of his mind. It is very much true in this particular case. We know Chinua Achebe portraying the good as well as evil of Igbo society in his novel.
To sum up the whole discussion, it is crystal clear that the writer has portrayed the Igbo society and its culture through this novel in a very beautiful procedure. We realize that the writer was well aware with the people of those era. His characters are as fresh today as they were in that age. The first encounter of Igbo society with colonialism shares the theme of “Twilight in Delhi”, written by Ahmed Ali. In this milieu, I am agree with the point that “Things Falls Apart” is definitely a social document but as mentioned supra, a writer just not simply copies and pastes the occurrences as they are but molds it by using the imagination of his mind. In case of Chinua Achebe, he is not an exaggerative writer, who overstates everything. Neither he hadwritten the history of Igbo society as it was nor he had made a utopian world from his experiences but he used his techniques to aware us with the Igbo society. He decorates a society, which was well aware with the term of culturalism and ultimately it bumps intocolonialism and Christianity at the turn of the twentieth century.