Things Fall Apart

Proverb Symbolism for the Clan 12th Grade

In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe introduces the ideas of maturity/reputation, respect, and communication as Umuofian cultural values. The success of its citizens when it comes to their social standing is dependent on their abilities to be able to display all three of these traits. The biggest example, Okonkwo, portrays how he exemplified the proverbs and of how they functioned as stepping stones in his achievement as a powerful leader with many titles in the clan. Through maturity, you learn respect, through respect you learn the value of communication and its substantial role in the society. Being that social standing is earned instead of inherited, the need to display these traits becomes increasingly evident.

Accomplishments of strength and power are essential in order to display maturity for the hierarchical structure of the Umuofian society. An example of this is when the men are referring to Okonkwo, they use the proverb “If a child washes his hands he can eat with kings” (5). This proverb relates to Okonkwo in a way that is undeniable, the stigma of his father’s unruly life is not something that the members of the Umuofia clan will hold against him. Instead, he is treated by the manifestations of his ability...

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