Things Fall Apart

Explain Mr. browns method of conversion and why he is successful.

Chapter 21

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Mr. Brown is a wise and patient man; he befriends many of the local great men, and earns their affection. He spends a good deal of time with Akunna; they speak through an interpreter on the subject of religion. Neither man converts the other, but Mr. Brown learns much about the local religion and concludes that missionary work should be subtle and indirect: direct confrontation will not work.


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.