"Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe demonstrates Adaptability: The Study of Change in a Father/Son Relationship

Essay by dedog45High School, 12th gradeA+, September 2006

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Anthony J. D'Angelo said, "Don't fear change, embrace it." This message is evident in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Achebe is trying to convey the theme that change is inevitable and the people who cannot adapt will suffer. He shows contrasting sides of embracing change with the characters Okonkwo and Nwoye. Okonkwo is opposed to change and his inability to adapt to change eventually leads to his suicide. Nwoye, on the other hand, thrives from the change in the village and begins a new life. The two differ not only in their ability to embrace change, but also in their overall personalities. The draconian treatment that Nwoye receives from his father Okonkwo is a result of the opposing views of the two and leads to Nwoye thriving on change while Okonkwo fails to adjust.

Nwoye is repeatedly in conflict with Okonkwo as revealed through his free spirit and work ethic.

Achebe uses Nwoye as a foil to Okonkwo. Nwoye is a free spirit and a nonconformist who does not live by the strict tradition that his father does. Consequently, he converts to Christianity which Okonkwo loathes him for. Nwoye comes back to his father's obi after he is seen with the Christians, and Okonkwo is furious, "Nwoye turned round to walk into the inner compound when his father, suddenly overcome with fury, sprang to his feet and gripped him by the neck (151)." Okonkwo would never think about converting because he is so attached to the strict tradition of the clan, which leads to his downfall. Nwoye's work ethic also brings conflict between them. As a result, Nwoye often finds himself on the wrong end of his father's habitual beatings. Okonkwo was always a hard working and determined individual and expected the same out of his...