Chapters 17-19 Things Fall Apart
Chapters 17-19 • Nwoye and Christianity • Offers him refuge from his disbeliefs in his native religion and his disagreements with his tribe’s laws • Men without titles turn to Christianity because they are accepted • The osu enter into Christianity being equals as opposed to being outcasts • Okonkwo and Christianity • If the missionaries “win” his killing of Ikemefuna is no longer justified based on a religious belief • The church undermines their specific cultural beliefs and laws – everything that they hold sacred • Their cultural titles will no longer hold the same significance
Chapters 17-19 • Nwoye’s conversion • Almost completely separates him from his father • He no longer believes in Igbo values • Will no longer be a great clansman • Undermines Okonkwo’s status in the clan because he rejects that belief • All of Okonkwo’s hard work to make something of himself and separate himself from his father has been a waste • Mbanta is committed to peace and doesn’t really do much about the church’s presence • Peaceful solutions, such as ostracizing the church • Okonkwo wants to act violently against the church – going against everything the Mbanta tribe holds valuable
Chapters 17-19 • White men weakens the kinship bonds amongst the Igbo people • Creates rifts in the tribe, within families • Central obstacle for the Christian church with the Igbo people – their kinship bonds • When Nwoye converts, the missionary responds, “Blessed is he who forsakes his father and his mother for my sake” • Christians win converts by pointing out the fallacy of the Igbo beliefs • The outcasts cutting their hair • They don’t die after 28 days since building in the Evil Forest • They think the Christian God is more powerful than their own
Chapters 17-19 Discussion Questions • What mutual misunderstandings are evident in this chapter between the missionaries and the people of the village? How does the granting to the missionaries of a plot in the Evil Forest backfire? What does the metaphor in the next to the last sentence of the chapter mean? • The outcaste osu are introduced in this chapter. Why do you suppose Achebe has not mentioned them earlier? Their plight was indeed a difficult one, and is treated by Achebe elsewhere. In India the lowest castes were among the first to convert to faiths which challenged traditional Hinduism; and something similar seems to happen here. • Note how traditional Umuofian custom can welcome back an erring member once he has paid for his crime. In many cultures Okonkwo would be treated as a pariah, but this culture has ways of accommodating such a person without destroying him, and in fact encouraging him to give of his best. What does the final speaker say is the main threat posed by Christianity?