Chinua Achebe and Author w. B Yeats Essay

Submitted By Mike-Gefter
Words: 1059
Pages: 5

Michael Gefter
Why does Things Fall Apart matter? Things Fall Apart is an essential piece of African Literature that speaks to the conflicting views of society in Western and Non-Western cultures. The Novel Things Fall Apart compares traditions of Europeans, and the Igbo of West Africa. The novel is written from the viewpoint of the author, Chinua Achebe; a Nigerian. For the majority of the novel he gives insight into Igbo culture, including tribal traditions and Religious beliefs. Religion is a central idea in this novel and is a strong motivator for what occurs throughout the novel. It is important to read the novel Things Fall Apart because we must know about the world around us, not only what is familiar to us; knowing the world around us is essential in life. Things Fall Apart takes it name from a poem called, The Second Coming; but we know that already. It is said that the author W.B Yeats felt despair and devastation after what he had seen in the First World War. How can this be compared to Things Fall Apart?;well the character Okonkwo can be related quite easily to the author W.B Yeats at this time in his life. Both people had come out of tragedy recently, though it may have ended differently for each individual: similarities still exist between the two. In Okonkwo’s case the reverence and respect of his clansmen was slowly being lost as progress was main on the part of the “white man” who had brought with him many new ideas that conflicted with tribal religious beliefs and tradition. At first it seems that the novel was written for those already familiar with Nigerian history, but this is not true as we see as we read on.
It seems Chinua Achebe chose the title, Things Fall Apart due to the similarities between his character; Okonkwo and the poet W.B Yeats discussed earlier. Yeats writes, (Turning and turning in the widening gyre,The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world). In referencing these lines Achebe Chinua seems to hinting at the anarchy that rises when an bureaucratic system fails, such as the one that existed in Umuofia. It seems that, “the center cannot hold” is reference to the imminent collapse of African society, the Irony being this new Society that is forming is in itself a bureaucracy. It seems this novel was written at the turn of the 20th century as in the last days of Queen Victoria’s reign. If true, It confirms the irony Achebe was trying to evoke by comparing the disintegration of imperialist British Society at the time, and the failure of its empire to expand further, when the British had caused the same to happen to African tribal society.
It is humorous in a sense, because Chinua Achebe gives the impression that the British have only come by political motivation when Religious motivators have greatly contributed, though he implies this it does not seem to be as important to him in the scheme of things. Yeat’s Second Coming is about some sort of revelation he had experienced during the First World War. Once again comparable to Okonkwo who experiences the descent upon his society, by the christian missionaries. His revelation is that of the impending loss of his spiritual integrity and more importantly that of this people. Further, we can see the Irony in how high and mighty the missionaries act. They seem benevolent in their attempts to destroy a culture and faith which they do not attempt to understand, except for maybe Mr. Brown, but sadly he does not possess great enough influence to invoke change in British society and even if he could it is not likely he would. As a subject of a Queen it is likely he believes in divine right and therefore does not feel it appropriate to interfere with her will.
Mr.Brown is a perfect example of tolerance. Despite his obvious opposition to the traditions of Umuofia and its Igbo clansmen and women, he does not blatantly