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Key Passage Commentary On Things Fall Apart

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This passage, found as a conclusion to a chapter in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, takes place after Okonkwo's return to Umuofia. A new English missionary has been set up in the village and has caused a great divide between the villagers. The main purpose of the section is to describe some of these events and changes that have taken place in Umuofia since Okonkwo's return. The passage is structured in three parts, each detailing about a different aspect. The first section focuses on Okonkwo's son Nwoye's conversion to Christianity and subsequent successes. The second part goes into detail about Okonkwo's arrival home to his clan and the change in the village. Finally, the last section includes Okonkwo's inner feelings and opinions about the affair. The change in the village and Okonkwo's firm rejection to alter his lifestyle to accept this change are the key ideas in the passage. Achebe uses words to suggest an epic clash of cultures, puts in bits of Ibo culture and words to give readers a greater understanding of the village, and allows the characters' personalities, especially Mr. Brown and Okonkwo, grow.

Nwoye's switch to Christianity is highlighted in the first section of the book. This conversion is the first big change in Okonkwo's life due to the missionaries, and causes Okonkwo great pain and anguish. Although Nwoye is the main focus of the section, the first sentence deals with the departure of Mr. Brown. The fact that Mr. Brown, perhaps the only white man the non-Christianized Ibos can relate to, is leaving and that he leaves during the rainy season is a sign that a big change is coming. From there, the passage turns to Nwoye. He has changed his name to Isaac, which signifies his complete abandonment of the Ibo culture. That Nwoye took the name "Isaac" as his Christian name is very interesting. Isaac is the son of Abraham in the bible and is the first born to a new race of people. Perhaps Nwoye chose this name because he is one of the first to adopt Christianity, the "new" religion. Also interesting is that Isaac was the father of twins, Jacob and Esau. Nwoye most likely remembers the twins he heard thrown in the Evil Forest and intends to be like Isaac, and protect twins and others that the Ibo consider evil. Nwoye has also become a teacher which shows his devotion to Christianity, greater than any devotion he had in Umuofia, whether to working in the fields, his father, or his culture. Mr. Brown's friendly nature is also shown in this section. He heard of Okonkwo returning to Umuofia and "immediately paid him a visit" and "hoped that Okonkwo would be happy to hear of it," referring to Nwoye. Okonkwo, however, drove Mr. Brown away and threatened him. This treatment of Mr. Brown shows Okonkwo's genuine hatred of Christianity that stole his first-born son and any change that has come with it.

The second part of the passage shows the change in the entire village and their reaction, or lack of reaction, to Okonkwo's return. Okonkwo's initial plan was to make his return to Umuofia attract the attention of the entire village with two beautiful daughters, a larger house with room for two more wives, and the initiation of his sons into the ozo society. The "ozo" society, a use of African English to add culture to the novel, is made up of powerful and titled men in the village. To Okonkwo's dismay, he attracts little attention (it was "not as memorable as he had wished") because the village is occupied with the new culture and religion growing in the village. "The clan had undergone such profound change during his exile that it was barely recognizable.



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