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Religion in Things Fall Apart - Essay Example

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There are several theological conceptions that are talked of in Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. This has a lot to do with the fact that the novel talks of the pre-colonial and colonial cultures that prevailed in Africa. …
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Religion in Things Fall Apart
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Download file to see previous pages The novel is one of the most influential of twentieth-century works of literature and is considered to be one of the landmark novels in English literature and postcolonial literature. What constitutes a man in the novel can be seen from the description of what constitutes success within the Igbo tribe, according to Achebe. This would include worldly success as well as the spiritual ascent. This is indicated through a variety of gestures within the novel on the part of the writer and the other members of the society that the novelist is a part of. The idea of the man is then derived not only from the material aspects of life but also from the spiritual; aspects of it. This can be seen from the fact that Okonkwo is also assigned spiritual responsibilities as a result of the social position that he held. He is assigned the responsibility of taking care of Ikemefuna, something that becomes very important as far as the progression of the plot is concerned. Apart from this, the fact that Okonkwo is a part of the Igbo priesthood is also very significant as it points to his position within the spiritual society of the Igbo community. His removal from the priesthood is also accompanied by a fall in his social status and this points towards a connection between religion and society in the material sense of it as far as the Igbo community was concerned. The aim of life in such a society is to regenerate the society itself through a flourishing of human lives. This is what the religion also enjoins as is seen from the high price that it places upon the crime of murder. The price that Okonkwo has to pay for the one mistake that he makes is enormous. This can also be seen to be a worldview that he shares in when he says, “my children do not resemble me. Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies?” (Achebe). This emphasis on the regeneration of the society and the urge to see oneself in the future generations can then be seen to be the basis of a social form of religion in Things Fall Apart. These lies are the story of how Okonkwo is unable to be satisfied with his own son and often compares him to his father who he felt was not somebody who had led a productive life. What is true and what is false, is also something that like traditional western religions, do not have their basis entirely in rationality and scientific beliefs. The beliefs that are upheld are often arbitrary and the very nature of the traditional religion supports this kind of an ambiguity in the ways in which religion works within traditional African society. This is then the result of a great many years of ossification of the traditional structures of religion. Such structures are then broken down in the face of colonialism within the novel. As important as an analysis of the traditional structures of the religion is the idea of the changes that were brought about in these ideas of tradition by ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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