Things Fall Apart | Study Guide

Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart | Part 3, Chapter 22 | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Brown leaves the village and is succeeded by Mr. Smith. Smith is a strict zealot and sees things "as black and white. And black [is] evil." Smith does not care about the number of converts to the church, only that those who convert are strict adherents to the faith.

Enoch, an overzealous convert, sparks "the great conflict between church and clan." He commits a terrible crime when he unmasks an egwugwu in public. The next day, the egwugwu and clan elders destroy Enoch's compound.

Smith and his followers hide Enoch. Then Smith and his interpreter meet the crowd outside the church. The villagers explain they will not harm Smith. However, they are going to destroy the church and will "no longer allow it in our midst."

Smith commands the crowd members to leave, but they remain and destroy the church.

Analysis

Mr. Smith is markedly different from his predecessor; he is all fire and brimstone. Smith's goals are clear from the beginning. The converts will obey and disavow any attachment to the old religion. The narrator notes that Smith "saw the world as a battlefield." His point of view foreshadows problems to come.

Enoch, Smith's disciple, is ready for a fight. In this respect, he mirrors Okonkwo. He wants to fight for his beliefs and feels confrontation is the only way to solve a problem.

The interpreter does not understand the dialect of the mob's spokesman and cannot relay his message to Smith. The interpreter also changes the meaning of Smith's reply. Thus, neither Smith nor the group from Umuofia communicate their messages. Language is again a barrier to coexistence. As a result, the church is destroyed, and a battle is underway.

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