Conflicts in “Things Fall Apart” | Minors and Majors

Conflicts in “Things Fall Apart” | Minors and Majors

  • January 1, 2022
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Conflicts are major part of every story. Writer creates conflicts in starts of the story and resolve them at 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 realistic image of his own culture and society.

Conflicts have many types. Some of them are;

  • Personal
  • Racial
  • Class
  • Caste
  • Political
  • International.

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 main conflict of the novel. Before arrival of Christians, people were happily following their rules and customs. Their culture was everything for them. They had their own customs, practices and traditions. They were divided into tribes and every tribe had a leader. Growing yams in farms 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 much wives as as he wanted. Only the strongest could survive. They used to tell stories. Ibo culture was combination of different norms.

White-men arrived and shattered everything. They bring their culture with them and forcefully tried to impose it on others. There were lots of differences between white-men’s cultures 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, young generation accepted it. Nwyoy’s example is in front of us. He accepted Christianity and their culture. It causes another inner conflict between young generation and old generation in “Things Fall Apart.”

White-men’s culture was entirely opposite to Ibo culture. When Ibo people refused to accept it a conflict arouse. Cultural conflict is very realistically illustrated in “Things Fall Apart”.

Religion Vs. Religion conflict in “Things Fall Apart”:

Ibo people have belief in (Chukwu or Chineke), whom they consider creator god. Similarly an earth goddess (Ala) was also there for them to worship. 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, white-men came with Christianity. They worshiped only one God, which was unacceptable by Ibo society. Furthermore, they tried to expand their religion and to some extent they succeeded in doing so. When the observed that Christianity called killing twins a brutal act they stood against it and tried to stop its expansion. Eventually, religion vs. religion conflict arouse. Finally, Igbo religion was eliminated and Christianity overpowered.

Internal conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”:

Christianity expanded; new generation accepted it whereas old generation resisted due to which internal conflicts arouse. 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 with his inner fears of failure. Her son was fighting with his weaknesses. Perhaps, this 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 earth goddess but he was against 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, new generation Vs. old generation is also another conflict in “Things Fall Apart”.

Man vs. Man conflict in “Things Fall Apart”:

Every tribe in Ibo society tried to maintain his 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 man tried to kill his fellowman. Okonokwo killed his adopted son with his own hands just to show his powers over other men of his society. He could avoid it but he showed that he was emotionless hence he possessed more strength. Similarly, wars between tribes also showed conflict of “man vs. man”. Suffice is to say that man vs. man is one of the prominent conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”.

Apart from above, there are some small conflicts such as; son vs. father as Nwyoy consider himself right and his father wrong, man vs. religion as Obeirika was uncomfortable with 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 clash between the Western and traditional African Values.


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