Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 22

The new leader of the Christian church, the Reverend James Smith, has nothing of Mr. Brown's sympathy, generosity, or accommodation. He detests the way that Mr. Brown endeavored to lead the congregation. Mr. Smith finds numerous believers new to critical religious thoughts and practices, convincing himself that Mr. Brown thought of just enrolling converts as opposed to making them Christians. He pledges to take back the church to the narrow way. It is not long before Mr.Smith demonstrates his loathsomeness of the practices of the local people. He sends away a woman from the congregation because her husband had mutilated her dead ogbanje child in the traditional way. The preacher is not aware of any way through which the child can go back to the mother's womb age get reborn. Mr. Smith condemns individual who carry out this practice and tells them that they are carrying out the devil's work.

The following day, the egwugwu from every one of the villages assemble in the commercial center. They storm Enoch's compound and wreck it with flame and cleavers. Enoch takes asylum in the church compound, yet the egwugwu tail him. Mr. Smith meets the men at the church entry. At that point the masked egwugwu start to advance toward the church, however, they are calmed by their leader, who undermines Mr. Smith and his translator since they can't understand what he is saying. He reveals to them that the egwugwu won't hurt Mr. Smith because of Mr.Brown, who was their close friend. Mr. Smith will stay safely in his home in Umuofia and love his god, yet they want to destroy the church that has caused the Igbo many issues. Through his translator, Mr. Smith tries to quiet them and asks that they leave the issue to him, however, the egwugwu destroy his church to satisfy the spirits of the clan.


All through the book, Achebe gives his characters names with concealed meanings; for instance, Okonkwo's name suggests male pride and stubbornness. When Achebe introduces British characters, he gives two of them normal and unremarkable British names, Brown and Smith. His third British character, the District Commissioner, is known just by his title. Achebe has carefully selected the names to suit their roles in the society.

Achebe depicts Mr. Smith as a representation of the resolute Christian missionary in Africa. He is a fire-and-brimstone kind of evangelist, who compares Igbo religion to the prophets of Baal of the Old Testament and brands customary Igbo practices as crafted by the devil. Achebe recommends that the issue between Mr. Smith and the neighborhood individuals might be more than one of religion: "[Mr. Smith] saw things as black and white. And black was evil."

Mr. Smith teaches an uncompromising translation of the bible. He suspends a woman convert who permits an old Igbo conviction about the ogbanje to pollute her new Christian lifestyle. He marks this occurrence as "pouring new wine into old bottles," an act prohibited in the New Testament of the Christian Bible — "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles" (Matthew 9:17).

Achebe suggests that strict adherence to spiritual writings and strict application produces religious obsession. Enoch's unmasking of an egwugwu is depicted because of unbridled enthusiasm with religion. According to the Igbo culture, the egwugwu wear masks as a sign of the presence of the spirits. Thus, in the presence of the masks, it is the spirits rather than the humans that are present. The action of Enock, thus, was disrespectful to the spirits.

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