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182 Term Paper- Chinua Achebe

182 Term Paper- Chinua Achebe - Hist.182 Paper Assignment...

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Hist.182 Paper Assignment The historical novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe communicates the extent to which distant cultures differed from one another in the 19 th century. Contrasting the Igbo society in Africa with that of the Europeans, Achebe describes the ways in which the cultural values in these two societies differed. But although their specific practices were very dissimilar, Achebe is able to demonstrate how their general values, most notably religion and native customs, proved to be the most essential in both societies. The Igbo people and the Europeans both held religion in extremely high regard. But the Igbo were a polytheistic people. They held one God on the highest pedestal: their foremost divinity, Chukwu, who “made all the world” (127). The Igbo people, while still holding Chukwu in the highest esteem, also worshipped many minor gods such as trees, rivers, and wood carvings (127). These lesser gods were “[Chukwu’s] messengers so that [the Igbo people] could approach [Chukwu] through them…as a great man is approached through his servants” (127). Although not so much as they revered Chukwu, the Igbo people believed very strongly in these minor, spiritual gods—so much so that, one god in particular, the sacred water god python, “was addressed as ‘Our Father’, and was allowed to go wherever it chose, even in peoples’ beds” (112). Each person in Igbo society also possessed their own personal minor god, called a chi . The chi , whether good or bad, was believed to coincide with one’s fortunes in life. Okonkwo, a successful Igbo man who was blessed with a good personal chi , looked down upon his father Unoka who some believed possessed a bad chi because his life was very ill-fated. The African people
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demonstrated their reverence for the gods during religious holidays and festivals, such as the Week of Peace. The Week of Peace was the week observed prior to planting their crops “in which a man does not say a harsh word to his neighbour…to honour [their] great goddess of the earth without whose blessing [they believed] their crops would not grow” (22). Any violation of the will of the gods would result in a curse upon the whole society, so the Igbo people were very quick to punish or exile others to keep their people safe from the wrath of the gods. For example, when Okonkwo violated the Week of Peace buy beating one of his wives, the priest of the earth goddess, Ezeani, described to
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182 Term Paper- Chinua Achebe - Hist.182 Paper Assignment...

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