Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

January 24th, 2020   admin   Book Review Tags: , , ,

Sometimes we might ask ourselves whose fault it is when things that once seemed familiar turned to be totally different and made the whole “best” situation just an out-of-date rubbish. When being in the process of fast changing, are the people who insisted the original and traditional life the ones who are false? Is this their fault to not be able to accept and adjust themselves to the new belief and environment? People who are born in this fast-moving society may think it is easy to catch on every new trend since it happens nearly everyday and becomes one thing they can get used to. But what about those who were born in last generation or earlier and who have already set up their own way and knowledge of dealing with things and living a life with their whole life experience? It seemed normal to persuade people to catch on whatever appeared new and get used to it as soon as possible since that is how people avoid being dropped out. But sometimes people may have paid too much effort and attention on it and turn it into a must-be-done task. People may not realize that it could be crucial to people of last generation or earlier to get rid of and deny the success of all the ways and knowledge they had and that was once necessary to live their life.

This is my second time to read the book “Things Fall Apart”, and it just brought me a totally different feeling from my last time to read it. The main character Okonkwo left the image of a strong but old-fashioned man to me, and sometimes I would think he was helpless with his own expert knowledge about how to rule and success his and his children’s life. I have to say I did not really like him at first since he seemed too arrogant about what he knew and what he had. He was obsessed with masculinity and with the strong body and spirit, along with the wealth he earned, he believed he was right about everything. He did not get enough satisfaction from taking control of his own life but tend to take in charge the life and destiny of all rest of his family members, and he was happy when seeing himself in his brave, strong and hard-working daughter which was a real comfort to him since he knew his daughter would be as same successful as himself by holding the same characteristic he had. When I first read it, the criticism of the invasion by white people was what I thought the most obvious core in this book. But when I read it for second time, I could not help rethinking the whole story from the perspective of how it would feel like by being one of those characters whose life was interrupted and who were forced to give in and accept the change, especially how the main character Okonkwo feel about the “new stuff”.  The last scene of Okonkwo which is he suicided himself to refuse to be taken by colonial court makes me want to spend more time to think why he did this to himself and when he tried to persuade crowds to resist white government but no one fight alongside Okonkwo, was he a pathetic clown? and was his death all a useless joke that had no power to make any difference? After the second time of finishing the book, It hits my mind that maybe Okonkwo was the only one left who was brave and strong enough to stand up and guard the assets and culture that his village built and he was the only one left trying to prove and keep the existence of he and the whole village.

It cannot be denied that Okonkwo lived a traditional life and what he believed that is necessary to master for a successful life is no suit for today, but what he did for his culture and everything he was familiar with in his old days is so worth of people’s respect. He took advantage of all his life to protect what he valued and believed, even with his suicide, he was trying to protect the original look of his village by ending his life at when he held the whole life memory of how it looked like before the outsiders took place of it and also when he was still the resident of the village instead of the bender to the colony. It was so beautiful when he fought all his life and strength to defend what raised him, what defined and made him him. And I finally got how hard it would be for him to give in when someone tried to take over and bring big change to all the thing he was familiar with and believe. It should be hard. And the harder it is, the more it shows that how important and precious it is. And I finally understand it was not when someone comes to take over it but when there is no body left keeps their belief about the thing that makes all the things fall apart. What Okonkwo wished to do may be just to keep things all right where they are and avoid them being erased so he can keep it complete with his death.

By Shengdan Jin

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