Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe's Portrayal of Pre-Colonial Africa:

The concept of balance in Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, is an important theme throughout the book. Achebe introduces this idea with an excerpt from William Butler Yeats's poem, "The Second Coming." The notion of balance is stressed here as important, because if balance does not exist, order is lost. This novel is a complex portrait of African tribal society prior to European colonization. By employing masterful techniques of description, linguistic comparison and strong proverbial context, a chance is given to the reader to realize the rich traditions and customs that generated stability in that society. There are many structures of balance that the Ibo culture seems to depend upon. All of which contribute to the demise of the main character, Okonkwo, the Ibo religion, and ultimately, the Ibos' autonomy. This unraveling of affairs is spearheaded by a tremendous imbalance between notably masculine and feminine concepts. These yin and yang aspects, so to speak, might well be described as the external, physical strength of the male, opposed by the internal, passive strength of the female. Achebe formulates a brilliant dichotomy here. It will be the purpose of this essay to investigate these forces and to...

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