Conflicts are a major part of every story. A writer creates conflicts at the start of the story and resolves them at the end. Several conflicts are also there in “Things Fall Apart” as it is a postcolonial novel. Chinua Achebe tells us a real story. He creates bundles of conflicts in “Things Fall Apart” but ends the novel without finding any solution for them. Perhaps, he wanted to remain close to reality, therefore, he created a pen picture of a realistic image of his own culture and society.
Conflicts have many types. Some of them are;
Bundles of conflicts are there in “Things Fall Apart”. However, four major conflicts are:
- Cultural conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”
- Religion Vs. Religion conflict in “Things Fall Apart”
- Internal conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”
- Man vs Man conflict in “Things Fall Apart”
Cultural conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”:
It is the main conflict of the novel. Before the arrival of Christians, people were happily following their rules and customs. Their culture was everything to them. They had their own customs, practices and traditions. They were divided into tribes and every tribe had a leader. Growing yams was their only duty. Sons inherited farms from their fathers. In difficult times, they consulted their mothers or maternal uncles. A person could have as many wives as he wanted. Only the strongest could survive. They used to tell stories. Ibo culture was a combination of different norms.
Whitemen arrived and ruined everything. They bring their culture with them and forcefully tried to impose it on others. There were lots of differences between whitemen’s culture and Nigerian culture (Igbo society). It was not easy for Ibo people to accept their values. Hence, a cultural conflict arouse in “Things Fall Apart”. Strong men like Okonkwo tried to resist but failed. However, the young generation accepted it. Nwyoy’s example is in front of us. He accepted Christianity and their culture. It causes another inner conflict between the young generation and the old generation in “Things Fall Apart.”
Whitemen’s culture was entirely opposite to Ibo’s culture. When Ibo people refused to accept it a conflict arouse. Cultural conflict is very realistically illustrated in “Things Fall Apart”.
Religion versus Religion conflict in “Things Fall Apart”:
Ibo people believe in (Chukwu or Chineke), whom they consider the creator god. Similarly, an earth goddess (Ala) was also there for them to be worshipped. Besides, they have beliefs in spirits as well as in ancestors who protect their living descendants. In short, they belonged to polytheistic religion. Different gods were there to help them on different occasions.
On the other hand, whitemen came with Christianity. They worshipped only one God, which was unacceptable to Ibo society. Furthermore, they tried to expand their religion and to some extent, they succeeded in doing so. When they observed that Christianity called killing twins a brutal act they stood against it and tried to stop its expansion. Eventually, religion versus religion conflict arouse. Finally, the Igbo religion was eliminated and Christianity overpowered it.
Internal conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”:
Christianity expanded; the new generation accepted it whereas the old generation resisted due to which internal conflicts arouse. The following are two main internal conflicts of “Things Fall Apart”:
- Man Vs. Innersole
- Old Generation Vs. New Generation
Man Vs. innersole termed as “Chi” is the prominent inner conflict in “Things Fall Apart”. Ibo society was a complete society but every person was living an individual life. For instance, Okonkwo was fighting his inner fears of failure. His son was fighting with his weaknesses. Perhaps, these inner conflicts forced Nwoye to divert his religion. Apparently, people were happy but they were trying to find a better life. Obeirika was also a follower of Igbo culture and obeyed every order of the earth goddess but he was against the philosophy of killing the twins. He wanted to do something but could not.
Furthermore, modern literature deals with man vs. his innersole. Chinua Achebe knew this fact, therefore, he depicted this conflict in “Things Fall Apart”.
Likewise, the new generation versus the old generation is also another conflict in “Things Fall Apart”.
Man versus Man conflict in “Things Fall Apart”:
Every tribe in Ibo society tried to maintain its respect by killing people from other tribes. It shows that Man is the worst enemy of humanity. “Survival of the Strongest” is the primary theme of this novel. Many incidents are there in the novel where a man tried to kill his fellow man. Okonkwo killed his adopted son with his own hands just to show his power over other men in his society. He could avoid it but he showed that he was emotionless hence he possessed more strength. Similarly, wars between tribes also showed a conflict of “man versus man”. Suffice it to say that man versus man is one of the prominent conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”.
Apart from the above, there are some small conflicts such as; son versus father as Nwyoy considers himself right and his father wrong, and man versus religion as Obeirika was uncomfortable with the killing of twins.
Numerous people accepted Christianity. Some accepted it with happy hearts and some with heavy hearts, therefore, the prominent conflict of the novel is a clash between the Western and traditional African Values.