“A proud heart can survive general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone” (Achebe 18). “If one finger brought oil it soiled the others” (Achebe 88). “Even as a little boy he [Okonkwo] had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even no he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken to title” (Achebe 10).
“But he was not the man to go about telling his neighbours that he was in error. And so people said he had no respect for the gods of the clan. His enemies said that his good fortune had gone to his head. They called him the little bird nza who so far forgot himself after a heavy meal that he challenged his chi” (Achebe 22). “Afraid? I do not care what he does to you. I despite him and those who listen to him.
I shall fight alone if I choose” (Achebe 142). “But I fear for you young people because you do not understand how strong is the bond of kinship. You do not know what it is to speak with one voice.
And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you. A man can now leave his father and his brothers. He can curse gods of his fathers and his ancestors, like a hunter’s dog that suddenly goes mad and turns on his master.
I fear for you; I fear for you the clan” (Achebe 118). “He [Okonkwo] was a very strong man and rarely felt fatigue. But his wives and young children were not as strong, and so they suffered.
But they dared not to complain openly” (Achebe 10). “No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man” (Achebe 37). “What is good in one place is bad in another place…the world is large” (Achebe 51).
“Every clan and village had its ‘evil forest’. In it were buried all those who died of the really evil diseases, like leprosy and smallpox. It was also the dumping ground for the potent fetishes of great medicine men when they died. An “evil forest” was, therefore, alive with sinister forces and powers of darkness” (Achebe 105).
“Ikemefuna had begun to feel like a member of Okonkwo’s family. He still thought about his mother and his three-year-old sister, and he had moments of sadness and depression. But he and Nwoye had become so deeply attached to each other that such moments became less frequent and less poignant” (Achebe 25) “That boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death” (Achebe 40).
“Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna. He drank palm-wine from morning till night, and his eyes were read and fierce like the eyes of a rat when it was caught by the tail and dashed against the floor” (Achebe 44). “An Umuofia man does not refuse a call,” he said. “He may refuse to do what he is asked; he does not refuse to be asked” (Achebe 136).
Chinua Achebe made a wonderful attempt to describe the traditions of the tribe, people’s beliefs, and interests in her Things Fall Apart. The whole story is concentrated on the life of Okonkwo. This man is a leader of Umofia, and this is why he depicts all significant male qualities and the impact of these qualities on the life within the clan. With the help of the citations, presented above, it is possible to observe how the life of a young boy depends on traditions and requirements, set by a community.
From the very beginning of the story, it becomes clear that the role of a man is great in society. He is not only responsible for his family and each member but he should also care about his clan and the reputation of this clan. Though a man is the person, who should not be afraid of anything, the men, described in Achebe’s story, cannot avoid this feeling. Of course, they try to hide their fears somewhere behind, but still certain fears for family traditions and relations continue bothering men. It becomes very difficult to pass on traditions and knowledge from one generation to another; this is why old people care about their sons and grandsons because they are under a threat to be plunged by modern traditions and personal ambitions.
The recognition of gods becomes more illusive, and people forget to demonstrate their respect to supreme powers, being aware of personal abilities. However, there is one important point that remains to be immutable from generations to generation; it is male power over women. In order to be respected by the other representatives of the clan, it is crucially important to demonstrate how a man behaves with his own family. Women and children have no rights to argue or demonstrate their personal demands. Any man, who gains recognition in his society, gets the right to be a tyrant and rule his family. Such kind of government within a family allows a man to teach his relatives to work hard and respect their roots. Though Okonkwo has a poor father, who was not able to complete his functions to their full extent, Okonkwo himself tries to become a good father, who knows how to treat his children and his wives, and, at the same time, be a good example for the others.
There is one more theme in the story that is worth attention; it is a diversity of cultures that makes the characters believe that somewhere, there is another world with different traditions and different priorities. Things Fall Apart demonstrates that in spite of human devotion to their traditions and customs, they do not forget to consider the interests of other people. The respect to different traditions shows that people are not only able to respect and improve personal lives but also study on other examples and make necessary conclusions. The world has many faces and many cultures, and the author explains that even if you cannot accept the morals of other people, you have, at least, to recognize them. At the end, the theme of family is also worthy of consideration. Very often, it becomes hard to build a powerful family, respect each other, and stick to certain traditions.
The role of the father is huge indeed: he is not only a defender and an example for his sons; he is also a provider, who should be responsible for well-being of his family. There are certain traditions any father should follow. And even if it is painful to follow all rules, a respectable father, like Okonkwo, should put aside personal ambitions and desires but complete his duty and prove that he never goes against traditions.
Things Fall Apart. Oxford: Heinemann, 1996.