Things Fall Apart
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Okonkwo, a successful Ibo villager in Nigeria, raises a family according to tribal custom. He raises yams - the work of men only - and builds huts for his wives and himself. He is a champion wrestler in his younger years and tries to raise his older son in his image.
At first it seemed like a myth to me, but gradually I realized it is more than that. During a special event, Okonkwo makes a mistake that he has to make amends for. The required penance is to leave the village for seven years. Okonkwo takes his family and heads to his mother's village, where he is welcomed and where he starts all over.
Toward the end of the seven years some Christian missionaries arrive and ultimately settle into his mother's village, disturbing Okonkwo and many others. Over time, the Nigerian villages are taken over by white man's government, a government that does not understand the ways of the villages. Or even the language, for the most part.
Achebe achieves the goal of putting us into the villages and understanding their reactions to the new religion and the new government. We can see how some members of the clan can appreciate this new god, and even how some embrace the new government, while understanding how difficult it is for Okonkwo to accept. It is a powerful book with its messages woven into a sad story.
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