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Things Fall Apart - Jasmin A Singletary 20 February 2008...

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Jasmin A. Singletary 20 February 2008 ADST 200-01 Professor C. Holmes “The Fall:” The Demise of an African Nation and its Submission to Outside Influence “…Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” This quote, taken from W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” leads readers into Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart.” That particular line is extremely significant because it warns of the inevitable and dramatic collapse one will encounter if “the center” should lose its grip on the power deemed necessary to keep everything staunchly together. The meaning embodied in that line remains in readers’ minds as one learns about the eventual fragmentation of an African society, and its immersion into European culture. This fate prompts numerous questions about the state of African civilizations prior to the entrance of Europeans and colonization: What flaws must have pre-existed in their culture in order to allow outsiders the opportunity to gain access to and exploit their societies? What motives did these colonizers possess and how did these reasons influence how easily accepted their presence was within the African society; and lastly was the transformation into this foreign culture, voluntary, and if so what did the people within the African nation hope to gain in abandoning their own culture? Using the text, “Things Fall Apart,” to identify these deficiencies, this paper will illustrate how the flaws present within this particular society contributed to its surrender
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to outside influence. Additionally, in responding to the three questions posed earlier, this paper will trace the effects European intrusion pressed upon African culture and analyze the causes for this occurrence. Achebe goes to great lengths describing the structure, organization, and history that define the African Ibo culture. From the very beginning, starting with the first chapter the reader begins to formulate a highly sophisticated image of the Ibo society; First in witnessing the interaction between the two characters Unoke, and Okoye who demonstrate their respect for one another by attempting to bestow the honor of breaking the kola nut on the other(6). Then noting how important the art of language and conversing is (7), it is already reasonable to conclude that this society is highly developed and intelligent. This assertion debunks the notion many detractors have in that, Europeans invaded these societies because they were primitive and savage, and incapable of sophistication. Yet if this is not, so, then how was it that foreigners were able to gain a foothold within their culture and eventually take it over? This is because despite its advancement, the Ibo culture practiced traditions that although were strictly obeyed, were resented and secretly contemplated on the reasons that allowed for their continued existences. These customs, at times misunderstood but nonetheless followed within the culture, definitely appear primitive and obsolete to outsiders observing.
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