Things Fall Apart

How did the presence of the white man and all that he brought with him affect the Ibo people as a whole?

Chapter 21

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The white man brings his destructive religion and the yoke of his laws, but he also brings a trade center. The people of Umuofia begin to profit from selling local products, and so not all of the people of Umuofia oppose the whites as much as Okonkwo. Mr. Brown's approach to conversion helps the early church in Umuofia get along relatively peacefully with the clan. Still, he is part of the forces that are destroying clan life. British imperialism also brings benefits, which help to mask the long-term damage being done to the Igbo people. Money from the trade center, the promise of position and wages from the DC, the possibility of an education from Mr. Brown's church: these are all substantial benefits. But the clan also is losing its independence. Even the education at the church comes with the risk of indoctrination. Okonkwo's grief is based on the loss of his people's strength. He sees that they are being irrevocably changed, in many ways for the worse, by the arrival of the white man.