Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

by

Karim Chandra

Chapter 21
Summary

Not all individuals from the Igbo community in Umuofia hate the changes occurring. The Europeans are bringing riches to the villages as they send out palm-oil and palm nut bits.

The white minister, Mr. Brown, takes the opportunity to learn about the Igbo type of worship, frequently talking about religion with one of the elders of the village. The two men discuss the structures, activities, and states of mind of their separate divine beings. Mr. Browner limits the overzealous individuals from his congregation from inciting villagers who stick to the old ways. Through his delicate tolerance, Mr. Brown forges a relationship with some of the elders of the clan who are now ready to listen to his message.

Mr. Brown urges the people the tribe to send their children to his school. He discloses to them that going to school is the way to keeping up control of their territory. In the end, individuals of different age groups start to listen to his message and go to his school. Mr. Brown's campaign picks up control for the whites and for the congregation, however, his diligence causes significant damage to his health. He is compelled to leave his church and return home.

Before Mr. Brown goes home, he visits Okonkwo to disclose to him that Nwoye — now called Isaac — has been sent to a teaching school in a far off town. Okonkwo sends the preacher out and tells him never to return.

Everything about the changed group of Umuofia disappoints Okonkwo. His homecoming was not what he had imagined; very few people took notice of his arrival. He can't continue with the ceremonies for his sons, in light of the fact that the ceremonies are held just once at thee years, and this year isn't one of them. The disintegration of the old lifestyle disheartens him as he sees the once furious Umuofians becoming "soft like women." He grieves for the village, "which he saw breaking up and falling apart" — an expression that again talk of the book's title.

Analysis

In this section, a third institution is set up by the British in Umuofia — commercial exchange with the outside world. The Europeans purchase palm-oil and palm parts from the Igbo at a high cost, and numerous Umuofians benefit from the exchange. These Umuofians welcome the new trading activities, however, these exercises are adequately undermining the tribe and its independence. Through the story, there is an indication of the systematic introduction of the white man's practices represented by religion, government, and business — Achebe demonstrates how the British persuaded many Umuofians to accept them although they had massive effects on the cultural practices of the group.

In reality, the white man has introduced various advantages that are lacking in Umuofian culture. Many members of the society accept the opening for riches that the white man has created. At the opposite end of the social scale, the disappointed individuals from Igbo society discover joy in Christianity that they didn't have in the old ways of the community. Mr. Brown opens a school and also constructs a small hospital, two important facilities that have an immediate impact on the people.

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