Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra
in English Letters
YB ANUGERAH WICAKSONO KW Student Number: 034214021
ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMME DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LETTERS
FACULTY OF LETTERS SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY
deepest gratitude to my beloved family; my father Vallone Kusumo in heaven, my lovely mom Noery Kusumo and my only sister Dita Bennet who gives me love everyday. Their smile is the greatest encouragement to finish this writing.
I thank Chinua Achebe who writes Things Fall Apart, the book that becomes my main inspiration in this thesis. I would also like to thank my advisor, Dewi Widyastuti, S.Pd. M. Hum. Who has guided and helped me during this thesis writing process. I feel so grateful that she is still guiding me although I take
much time to finish this work. I thank my co advisor Adventina Putranti, S.S. M. Hum. for so many inputs regarding my writing content. I greatly thank all lecturers of English Letters Department for their guidance, friendliness, and knowledge they share during my study. My appreciation also goes to all the staffs
in English Letters Department who give me a very remarkable support in writing
I thank all my fellow classmates in English Letters of 2003, Ronald, Satya, Tyas, Widhy, Prita, Renzzie, Ella, Ajeng, Frieda, Bayu, Yabes, Yeremia, Agung, Adhi, Sustiani, Cindy, Nita, Dodi, Vendy, Martumpal, Putri, Dian, Richard, and others that cannot be mentioned one by one. I give my profound thanks to Lilik, Jati, Erwan, Eko, Nifa, and Budiarto for the strong ties of friendship. I especially thank Eka for the discussion and evaluation to this thesis and Arfiana who always supports and reminds me to finish this writing.
YB Anugerah Wicaksono KW
APPROVAL PAGE ... ii
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION ... 1
A. Background of the Study ... 1
B. Problem Formulation ... 4
C. Objectives of the Study ... 4
D. Definition of Terms ... 5
CHAPTER II: THEORETICAL REVIEW ... 7
A. Review of Related Studies... 7
B. Review of Related Theories... 10
1. Conflict ………... 10
2. Types of Conflicts……….…….. 12
3. Western Colonialism... 13
C. Theoretical Framework ……… 16
CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY ………. 17
A. Object of the Study... 17
B. Approach of the Study... 19
C. Method of the Study ... 20
CHAPTER IV: ANALYSIS ………. 21
A. Conflicts in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart... 21
1.Conflicts before the Arrival of Christianity………... 21
2.Conflicts after the Arrival of Christianity…..………….……... 36
B. How the Igbo Society Deals with Its Conflicts before and after Christianization………. 48
1. Before Christianization………... 48
2. After Christianization……… 61
C. The Result of The Infiltration of Christianity………... 64
CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION …... 73
BIBLIOGRAPHY …... 76
Things Fall Apart talks about Igbo society in dealing with western imperialism. Igbo is agricultural community, living under the wisdom of an Oracle, a civil ordered society under the animism, dynamism reflected in their belief of many gods and spirits. The condition changes when the western arrives and introduces new perspective including Christianity to the native Igbo people. It leads separation among the community because some people decide to accept this new religion and some of them against it
There are some objectives that the writer wants to achieve through this thesis. The first is to classify the conflicts in Things Fall Apart in order to understand the conflict before the infiltration of Christianity and after the infiltration of Christianity. The second is to know how Igbo society solves its conflict before Christianization and its custom on solving the conflicts. The last objective is to see the result of Christianization toward Igbo society and to know the role of Christianity to colonization.
In order to analyze the problems, the writer is employing post-colonial approach. Post-colonial approach is considered appropriate to be applied to this topic because the discussion in this work is about the life of the Igbo people in Niger, Africa before and after the arrival of Westerner in Igbo’s point of view. In this study, the approach only focuses to discuss the conflicts of the novel.
The study has found that before the arrival of Christianity, conflicts exist but Ibo has strong social structures and traditional belief to solve it. While the society has various conflicts, the society also has well-established structures, such as religion, social structure, political systems, and economics. These structures are rooted deeply within the society, more deep-rooted and stronger than the conflicts, so all the conflicts can be overcome with the foundation of those structures. From all those structures, religion is the most fundamental element in Igbo society. Although the structures in Igbo society are well established, some of its people are still facing moral dilemma regarding the traditional structures. The arrival of the Christianity gives such a hope to people who are not satisfied with Igbo structures Then, they accept, convert to Christianity and leave their traditional Igbo religion.
The sudden infiltration of Christianity into Igbo society results disintegration of the existing fundamental structures of Igbo society. It has direct impact to the traditional Igbo religion. Since the most fundamental structure of Igbo society is distracted, other structures are also affected. The situation that is full of continuous conflicts in Igbo society makes the colonists can easily penetrate into Igbo society in various other aspects such as education, government and law, social and economy. Christianity functions as the foothold for the entrance of those other fields that are infiltrated by the colonists. By following the new religion, those Igbo people gradually leave their traditional values and show their trust and consent towards the Western colonists and the values they bring.
Things fall Apart mengisahkan masyarakat Igbo menghadapi imperialisme barat. Igbo adalah masyarakat tani yang hidup dalam perintah pemimpin adat, masyarakan sipil yang mempercayai animisme, dinamisme dalam kepercayaannya terhadap banyak dewa dan roh. Kadaannya berubah ketika bangsa barat datang dan mengenalkan perspektif baru termasuk agama Kristiani kepada pribumi Igbo. Hal ini mengakibatkan perpecahan dalam masyarakat karena ada yang beralih pada ajaran baru ini dan ada yang menentangnya.
Ada beberapa tujuan yang ingin dicapai penulis dalam menysun karya tulis ini. Yang pertama adalah mengklasifikasikan konflik-konflik dalam Things Fall Apart untuk memahami konflik sebelum masuknya Kristiani dan konflik sesudah masuknya Kristiani. Yang kedua adalah untuk mengetahui bagaimana masyarakat Igbo menghadapi konflik-konfliknya sebelum masuknya agama Kristiani.. Tujuan terakhir adalah untuk melihat akibat Kristenisasi terhadap masyarakat Igbo dan memahami peran agama Kristiani terhadap kolonisasi.
Untuk menganalisis masalah, penulis menggunakan pendekatan post-kolonial. Pendekatan post-kolonial dirasa tepat untuk diaplikasikan dalam topic ini karena bahasan dalam karya ini adalah tentang kehidupan masyarakat Igbo di Nigeria, Afrika sebelum dan sesudah masuknya bangsa barat dengan sudut pandang orang Igbo. Di dalam karya tulis ini, pendekatan difokuskan hanya pada konflik-konflik yang ada pada novel.
Penelitian ini menunjukkan bahwa sebelum datangnya agama Kristiani, Igbo memiliki banyak konflik tetapi Igbo memilikki struktur masyarakat yang kuat and agama tradisional untuk menyelesaikannya. Ketika masyarakat Igbo memiliki masalah, mereka juga memiliki struktur yang terbangun baik untuk menyelesaikannya seperti, agama, struktur sosial, system politik, and ekonomi. Struktur ini mengakar sangat dalam di masyarakat, lebih dalam daripada konflik-konflik yang muncul, sehingga semua konflik-konflik dapat diselesaikan dengan dasar struktur-struktur ini. Dari seluruh struktur tersebut, agama adalah struktur yang paling mendasar di masyarakat Igbo. Walaupun struktur dalam masyarakat Igbo berdiri dengan kokoh, masih ada beberapa orang yang menghadapi moral dilleme tehadap struktur tradisional.o. Kedatangan agama Kristiani memberikan harapan bagi orang-orang yang tidak puas dengan struktur Igbo. Mereka lalu menerima, berubah menjadi Kristen dan meninggalkan agama traditional Igbo mereka.
Mendadaknya agama Kristiani masuk ke masyarakat Igbo mengakibatkan disintegrasi dari struktur-struktur mendasar yang ada dalam masyarakat Hal ini memberikan dampak langsung pada Agama tradisional Igbo. Karena landasan yang paling mendasar dari masyarakat Igbo telah terusik, stuktur-struktur lainnya juga terpengaruh. Keadaan yang penuh dengan konflik berkepanjangan dalam masyarakat Igbo membuat para kolonialis dengan mudah dapat masuk kedalam masyarakat Igbo pada berbagai aspek seperti, pendidikan, pemerintahan dan
Chapter one consists of the background of the study, objectives of the study,
problem formulation and definition of terms. The background of the study
discusses the reasons for choosing the topic. Problem formulation is the list of
question as the major problem to be answered in this study. The objectives of the
study explain the goal of this thesis. The last part is definition of terms. In this
part, some terms which are related to the study will be defined.
A. Background of the study
Literature is one phenomenon in human life. Although the word is common,
to reveal what literature is becomes a difficult matter. Literature does not have any
exact meanings. There are many sources and experts mentioning various
definitions of literature. This basic problem should be answered before we discuss
this thesis further. So, the writer quotes definition of literature from A Glossary of
LIterrary Terms “Literature work as an imitation, or reflection or representation of
the world and human life, and the primary criterion applied to a work is that of the
truth of its representation to the objects represents, or represent” (Abrams, 1981:
As a representation of a certain situation and thoughts happening in a
certain setting of time and place, literary works are shaped by their cultural,
historical, and ideological environment. However, Literature is not merely
expression but also the product of social institution. Literature exists because the
society also exists. Wellek and Warren explain that:
Literature is a social institution,. Using its medium language, a social creation……… Literature ‘represent’ ‘life’; and ‘life’ is, in large measure, a social reality, even though the natural world and the inner or the subjective worled of the individual have also been objects of literary imitation (Wellek and Warren, 1956: 94)
Nowadays literature has developed in many ways, which result variety of
literature. According to Rohrberger and Woods, there are four modern literary
genres. They are short story, novel, poem, and drama. Each has its own form
(1971:19). Novel is one of literary genres. By reading a novel, someone can be
pleased, experience, or knowledge. Novel can be judged through its content or
meaning toward human life, without considering high or low value (Harvey,
1965: 14). Therefore, through reading a novel we can learn some values of human
life by revealing its content.
Novel has many varieties; one of them is Post-colonial novel. This type of
writing has become very popular nowadays. So many authors, whose country had
experienced being colonized under western colonial rule writes contra colonial
writings. Post-colonial literature deals with the causes and results of
imperialism/colonialism in the development of traditional culture. The point of
view is more from the natives’ point of view rather than the colonizer (in this
case, they are non-western authors, subaltern people or marginalized people).
According to Bill Ashcroft, in the book The Post Colonial Studies Reader,
“Post-colonial literatures are a result of its interaction between imperial culture and the
post-colonial literatures limit only on the cases between traditional and imperial
By using Post-colonial issues in a novel, the author from former colonized
countries such as India, Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia and any others that is
known as Commonwealth countries can describe natives’ culture of the colonized
land and its people that were badly treated. Post-colonial literature gives an
opportunity for subaltern people to deconstruct their past and its relation with
western colonialist. Moreover, they use literature as a means to express their
thought or resistance in opposing Western colonialism. Post-colonial literature
leads to the correction and clarification toward non-western history that have been
corrupted during European imperialism era.
But at the same time as European criticism was shedding history, post-colonial literatures were revealing in interest in question community, of ethic and the national identity, of the cultural effects of industrialization and urbanization, and of the continuity or discontinuity of tradition (Ashcroft et al, 1995: 444).
Africa is one of so many colonized areas. Therefore, there are many
writers in Africa use post-colonialism issue. One of the authors is Chinua Achebe.
It is often said that modern African literature originates with Chinua Achebe
(Gikandi 1991: 2). Things Fall Apart (1958) is Achebe’s first novel. It took place
in the time when British government and missions penetrated the Igbo tribe.
Achebe portrays a civil, ordered society under the animism, dynamism reflected
in their belief of many gods and spirits. Igbo is agricultural community, living
until the western people brought them new perspectives result the confusion of
the Igbo that led to the separation among its society.
In this thesis, the writer wants to discuss how western imperialism
penetrates to the native’s society. This thesis will examine the role of Christianity
in integrated Igbo’s traditional identity with westerns. Then to know the effects
followed the integration.
B. Problem Formulation
Throughout this study, the writer will be concerned with several major
topics, which can be formulated into the following questions:
1. What are the conflicts in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart?
2. How does Igbo society deal with its conflicts before and after the
infiltration of Christianity?
3. What are the results of the infiltration of Christianity?
C. Objectives of the Study
Since the Problem Formulation consists of three questions, therefore the
objectives of the study also has three sections. The first objective of this study is
to know the conflicts happen in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The writer
will collect and discuss types of several conflicts in the story. This section will be
divided in two parts that are the conflicts before Christianity and the conflict after
The second objective is to know how Igbo people solve their conflicts before
and after the infiltration of Christianity. By knowing how Igbo people deal with
their conflicts before and after Christianity, reader will know the Igbo social
system and its tradition to solve their conflict and how its destructed by the
coming of Christianity.
The last section is to see the result of Christianity infiltration to Igbo society.
By focusing on the conflicts after the infiltration of Christianity, the writer wants
to show the role of this new perspective toward native Igbo people thought and
how they overcome their conflict and its benefit to the colonialist.
D. Definition of Terms
It is difficult to discuss further without knowing terms that will commonly
be used in this study. To avoid many kinds of misinterpretation in understanding,
the writer would like to explain about some words, which are widely related to the
topic that is going to be discussed.
Colonialism is a condition under imperial power including territory,
natural resources and politics. Referring to Boehmer’s definition (1995: 2),
colonialism is the consolidation of the imperial power, and is manifested in the
settlement of territory, the exploitation of development of resources, and the
attempt to govern the indigenous inhabitants of occupied lands. Another statement
is taken from Colonialism and Christian Mission by Neill,
is used almost exclusively as a term of reproach, implying that the only aim of colonial rule has been the exploitation and impoverishment of weaker and defenseless people, and its result have been the destruction of what was good in ancient civilizations and the multiplication of the measureless evils (1966: 11).
2. Post-Colonial Literature
Boehmer (1995: 3) said that, postcolonial literature is that which critically
scrutinizes the colonial relationship. It is writing that sets out in one way or
another to resist colonialist perspectives. Postcolonial literature is deeply marked
by experiences of cultural exclusion and division under empire.
Based on Chamber’s Encyclopedia, a society is the total system recurrent
action, performed by an aggregation of human being, who are differentiated by
age, role and status; linked by ties of kinship; sharing submission to common
authorities; distributed over a more or less contiguous and banded territory
(Greenwald, 1973: 667).
Based on A Hand Book to Literature, a conflict is the struggle that grows
out of the interplay of two opposing forces in a plot. One of the opposing forces is
usually a person, or, if an animal or inanimate being, is treated as though it were a
This chapter provides some theories, criticisms, and data to support the
analysis. It is divided into three parts. The first part is Review on Related Study,
which provides some criticisms of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart especially
that deals with the infiltration of new religion. The second part is Theoretical
Review, which consists of the theories that will be used to support the analysis.
The last part is Theoretical Framework that explain how the theories will be
applied in the analysis
A. Review on Related Studies
Chinua Achebe started to get involved with literary works when he was
studying in Ibadan University Colege. Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, is the
seminal African novel in English. “Although there were earlier examples, none
has been so influential, not only on African literature, but on literature around the
world. Its most striking feature is to create a complex and sympathetic portrait of a
traditional village culture in Africa.” (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/Schoolof
english/novel/nigeria/achebe.htm, 8 June 2008)
Achebe fiercely resents the stereotype of Africa as an undifferentiated
"primitive" land, the "heart of darkness," as Joseph Conrad calls it in his novel
Heart of Darkness. He realized that Conrad put African or black people lower
than the whites. He put Africa as the opposite of Europe that is considered as the
most civilized place.
Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as “the other world,” the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man’s vaulted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality (Achebe, 1989: 03).
Throughout the novel Achebe wants to counter the attitude and domination
of European writers that use Africa as an object of their works. He was raised
among western writings that treat Africa as the inferior by making one perspective
story based on western point of view. Later these writings become his inspiration
on writing Things Fall Apart.
Achebe was taught consisted entirely of works by Europeans about Africa, such as Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Joyce Cary's Mister Johnson, which portrays a comic Africa who slavishly adores his white colonist boss, to the point of gladly being shot to death by him. Achebe has said that it was his indignation at this latter novel that inspired the writing of Things Fall Apart. Try to see in what ways his novel answers Cary's (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/Schoolof english/novel/nigeria/achebe.htm, 8 June 2008).
Achebe is trying not only to inform the outside world about Igbo cultural
traditions, but also to remind his own people of their past and to assert that it had
contained much of value. All too many Africans in his time were ready to accept
the European judgment that Africa had no history or culture worth considering.
Things Fall Apart has a crucial role on influencing Nigerians and readers’ thought
to appreciate and valued their own culture. Moreover, Achebe suggests other
African people will be proud of their culture and reader will know that Africa, its
culture and people has pride of what they have.
Three or four weeks ago my wife, who teaches English in a boy’s school, asked a pupil why he wrote about winter when he meant the harmattan. He said the other boys would call him a bushman if he did such thing… I think it is part of my business as a writer to teach that boy that there is nothing disgraceful about African weather, that the palm tree is a fit subject for poetry ( Achebe, 1989: 44)
Achebe applies the African condition as the setting on presenting the
conflicts. It is not a conflict between two opposing forces that can be solved in
rational and common ways. Conflicts in African society and culture end with
ritual reconciliation to achieve agreements between contenders. Conflicts in this
novel are much about the making of decision in our lives and how we should
accommodate our fear and anger in making decision, whether we want to hold
tight what we believe, to follow the new belief or apply the new belief with the
G.D. Killam said that “the conflict of the novel, vested in Okonkwo, Derives from series of crushing blows which are leveled at traditional values by an alien and more powerful culture causing, in the end, the traditional society to fall apart” He noted that, “ in showing Igbo society before and after the coming of white men, Achebe avoids the temptation to presents the past as idealized and the present as ugly and unsatisfactory” (http//www.landow.stg.brown.edu/post/achebe/things/html. 30 June 2001)
David Carrol said, “The most impressive achievement of things Fall Apart
is the vivid picture it provides of Igbo society at the end of nineteenth century”
(http://www.landow.stg.brown.edu/post/achebe/things/html, 30 June 2001). The
makes sense. Things Fall Apart brings a conflict between traditional and modern
culture in which the modern try to replace the traditional one.
The naturalness of conflict in the story is important because readers
sometimes need a fictional work that represents the real life they are not dealing
only with the work that is based on the author’s imagination. The writer thinks
Chinua Achebe’s things Fall Apart is successful in presenting the conflict.
By focusing on the conflicts, the writer aims to reveal the role of
Christianity and missionaries in the early process of western colonization. This
discussion is about the contribution of Christianity to the widening of western
imperialism in Igbo society by seeing on the conflict in the story. Moreover, it
also discusses how the most fundamental aspect in society may create conflict
resulting separation and a crack for foreign penetration as seen in Chinua
Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
B. Reviews on Related Theories
This part will explain and discuss further the basic theories needed for the
analysis. As the basic problem solving, some theories are required to analyze the
problem formulation established in Chapter I. Only with the help of these theories,
the writer is able to answer the problem formulation
The message of the story can be seen from some elements, for examples
Dictionary, Conflict in its broadest sense means “struggle of fight.” Furthermore,
it means “opposition, difference, or clash of opinion, desires, etc; for examples,
the conflict between one’s duty and one’s desires, a conflict of interest between
the achievement of one aim and that of another” (1989: 245). Conflict has its own
definition in the world of literature. This definition, only applicable in literary
work as Holman and Harmon defined the conflict as “the struggle that grows out
of the interplay of the two opposing forces in a plot. It provides interest, suspense,
and tension. At least one of the opposing forces is usually a person, or, if an
animal or inanimate object is treated as though as it were a person.”(1986: 107).
Conflict has important role in a literary work because it always deals with
the plot. It appears from central character’s action deals with other forces. Central
character has a responsibility to solve the conflicts. Conflicts end when central
character succeeds or fails in overcoming the other forces. Sometimes the
protagonist gives up when the struggle is too difficult or worthless (Redman,
Besides showing the struggle of the protagonist against someone or
something, conflicts also show motivation and goal that want to be achieved
(Holman and Harmon, 1986: 108). Moreover, conflicts also imply something that
the author wants to convey. Conflicts may help the readers to know the central
idea or the theme of the story. “Obviously the central conflict of the story is
2. Types of Conflict
There are two types of conflicts, inner conflict and external conflict. Inner
conflict refers to a struggle inside the heart and mind of the protagonist (Redman,
1962: 363). In this case, the conflict does not show any physical struggle; for
example is the conflict in Robin Hood’s mind when he stole rich men’s money,
while he knew that stealing was wrong. He did that because people were suffering
and government did not care about them. Inner conflict always puts “two elements
within the person” (Holman and Harmon, 1986: 107). It always confronts the
character’s thought with his/her feeling. Those two elements usually have
different importance. Therefore, they have a big influence to our choice.
External conflict refers to a struggle between the protagonist and the
outside force (Redman, 1962: 363). This conflict usually shows physical struggles
between the protagonist and his or her opponent. According to A Handbook to
Literature, external conflict can be divided into four types based on the
protagonist struggle. The first is the struggle against nature. This conflict presents
the protagonist in dealing with natural forces, for example are natural disaster,
climate, wild beast etc. Second struggle is struggle against ananother person,
usually antagonist. This conflict involves struggle between the protagonist and
another character as the antagonist (Holman and Harmon, 1986: 107).
Third is struggle against society. In this case, the protagonist may be in
conflict with a society’s value systems. He or she believes or does something
different with social value believed by the society. The fourth and the last conflict
dealing with the greatest force or his or her creator. It is often conflicting moral
value or desire that people can build or change his or her own destiny. In a plot,
sometimes we can find two or more conflict, for example, in Hamlet “Hamlet
does not only have a conflict within his heart and mind, but also has a conflict
with his uncle as the antagonist.” (Holman and Harmon, 1986: 108).
3. Western Colonialism
Colonialism constitutes the history of power as it has been exercised by
one group over another, by the strong over the weak and the free over the slave, in
that one-sided and un-mutual relationship. It is also important to understand that
there was nothing in the Victorian so-called scientific research into human
intellectual potential to suggest that the British were motivated by
humanitarianism considerations toward the Africans in their endeavors to found
Colonies. Rather, they were driven by a desire to exploit the African resources,
both human and material, for their own socioeconomics gain (Mungazi, 1992:5).
Nowadays Asia and Africa projects the western imperialism, as a reaction of its
In his Book, Colonialism and Christian Missions, Stephen Neill says that:
Since the end of the fifteenth century, the initiative in this world affairs has lain in the hands of the western powers: we are now living in the days of the massive reaction of Asia and Africa against the west (1966: 12)
It can be seen that the initiative in world affairs has lain in the hands of the
western powers since in the end of the fifteenth century. Stephen Neill classifies
1. Political aggression has resulted in the disappearance of ancient
thrones and kingdoms like the disappearance of the Moguls of Indian
before British and many Rajas of Indonesia before the Dutch.
2. Economics Aggressions has destroyed old and carefully balanced
systems or organizations, and has resulted in a wholesale
disappearance of traditional skills, arts and crafts, which adorned and
colored ancient civilizations.
3. Social aggressions has trespassed the most intimate areas of personal
and family life, upsetting the ancient order of the relationship between
the sexes, between parents and children.
4. Intellectual Aggressions has paralyzed the creature powers of the great
nations by subjecting the rising generation to alien system of
education, and imposing categories of thought in which eastern and
African people cannot find themselves at home.
5. Religion Aggressions as missionaries are the direct threat to those
religion institutions where all and ancients cultures are founded for this
strikes at the very heart of the nations and endangered their very
existence as peoples with a history of destiny.
Christian mission is considered as the best way to colonize or to civilize
the native. The mission will not be dangerous if it is not abused as a tool to
conquer nation (Neill, 1966: 12). Using such mission, the west can enter the
nation more safely than using political forces. Then, unconsciously the west can
However, the Christian mission of the Missionaries should not be judged
from one perspective only, that it is used as the motivations of the colonizers for
their humanitarian considerations toward the colonized in their endeavors to
colonize the natives. It can be seen in another angle that the missionaries do not
only introduce the Christian belief to the native religion converts but also give
education to the indigenous so that they become literate.
The missionaries would have preferred a combination of religious
instruction with literary education because they were trying to persuade the
natives to accept the Christian values as a basis of new life; As Dickson A.
Mungazi puts it:
That, recognizing the need of religious education, literary education must, at the time being, be left in the hands of missionaries institutions and the religious bodies et present undertaking it (1992: 23)
The quotation above suggests that the missionaries do not only spread
their Christian belief to the traditional religion convert, but also give education to
the native so that they become literate.
Colonialism most important area of domination is the mental universe of
the colonized, the control a people’s culture is to control their tools of
self-definition in relationship to others (Ngungi Wa Thiong’O, 1987: 16) Thiong’O
also states that:
For colonialism this involved two aspects of the same process: thr destruction of the deliberate undervaluing of people’s culture, their art, dances, religions, history, geography, education, orature, and literature, and the conscious elevation of the language of the colonizer. (1987: 16)
From the quotation above, we can see that colonialism touches the culture
culture. If it is possible for the missionaries, they do not only introduce the idea of
Christianity but also, try to influence, to change the traditional religions, customs
C. Theoretical Framework
The writer applies the theories above for problems that are formulated in
the problem formulation. Each theory has its own focus and applied to solve the
problems. First, the writer wants to know all conflicts deeper so that the writer can
see the cause and effect of each conflict by using the Holman and Harmon’s
theories conflict. By collecting data of the conflicts, the writer aims to classify the
conflict into conflicts before the infiltration of Christianity and conflicts after the
infiltration of Christianity. By looking the collected data and divide them into two
categories, conflicts before infiltration Christianity and after infiltration
Christianity the writer will compare and analyze the structures of Igbo society and
answered the second and the third question of the problem formulation.
It is impossible to discuss post-colonial issues without regarding the theory
of western colonialism because this research project aims to highlight the
influence of western imperialism to the native. The writer also uses the theory of
western colonialism to answer the third question in the problem formulation. By
the application of this theory, the significant of missionaries on striking traditional
This chapter concerns with the method that is used in this thesis.
Methodology consists of three parts. The first part is the object of study, which
gives a brief information and description of the novel discussed in this study. The
second part is approaches. This part provides the approach that is used in
conducting this study. The third is the method of study that deals with the
procedures and steps that are taken in analyzing the novel.
A. Object of the Study
Things Fall Apart is the first novel of Chinua Achebe. Its first edition was
published in England 1958. This book talks about the life of African people in
Nigeria. As part of African literature, Things Fall Apart gained a big attention in
Africa and all over the world. The book used in this thesis was the first edition of
Anchor Books, A Division of Random House Inc., New York, publish in 1994.
The book is 209 pages and consists of three parts. The first part has 13 chapters
and tells about Okonkwo‘s life in his society before he is sent into his exile. The
other two parts have 6 chapters each and talk about Okonkwo’s life in his exile
and when he returns from his exile.
On the whole, Things fall Apart talks about Okonkwo in dealing with
western imperialism. Okonkwo is a courageous and wealthy man among his tribe.
He accidentally kills someone at a funeral ceremony; he and his family are sent
into exile for seven years to appease the gods he has offended with the murder.
While Okonkwo is away in exile, white men begin coming to Umuofia and they
peaceably introduce their religion. As the number of convert increases, the
foothold of the white people grows beyond their religion and a new government is
introduced. Okonkwo returns to his village after his exile to find it a changed
place because of the presence of white men. He refuses the development and fight
against it with some of his fellows. Okonkwo kills one of the white men
messengers that come to stop Umofian uprising. He realizes with despair that the
people of Umuofia are not going to fight to protect themselves because they let
the other messengers escape and so all is lost for the Igbo tribe. When the local
leader of the white government comes to Okonkwo's house to take him to court,
he finds that Okonkwo has hanged himself
The conflicts in Things Fall Apart are not only the internal conflicts of
Okonkwo as the main character but also conflicts of society dealing with the
penetration of new culture. The Arrival of British Imperial Government in Africa
emerges a great conflict not only between the natives and the British, but also
between the natives and those who join the Christians. Igbo society in this novel
lives in their community with their culture and customs. The condition changes
when the western arrives and introduce new perspective including Christianity to
the native Igbo people. It leads separation among the community because some
Post-colonialism approach is used to analyze this topic. Bressler defines
Post-colonialism approach as an approach to literary analysis that concerns itself
particularly with literature written in English in formerly colonized countries
(Bressler, 1999: 265).
Colonization has oppressed the colonized people physically and mentally,
personally and collectively. The colonizers bring in their own culture, resulting in
culture clashes and threatening the colonized people to lose their cultural identity.
This approach origin is a reaction of the colonized people towards such impacts of
Born out of the colonized peoples’ frustrations, their direct and personal cultural clashes with the conquering culture, and their fears, hopes, and dreams about the future and their own identities, postcolonial theory slowly emerges (Bressler, 1999: 266).
This approach focuses on writings from colonized cultures that were once
colonized by white male Europeans, such as Australia, Africa, and South
America. It investigates the phenomenon of clash between two cultures, in which
one of them, namely the colonizer, regards itself and its ideology superior to the
other, namely the colonized. The context and theories of Post-colonialism
comprise “how the colonized respond to changes in language, curricular matters
in education, race differences, and a host of other discourses, including the act of
writing” (Bressler, 1999: 266).
Post-colonialism is chosen as the most appropriate approach because the
Africa before and after the arrival of European colonizers, as seen from the Igbo
people’s point of view. The study itself discusses the result when religion, one of
the aspects brought by the European colonizers, intrudes into the life of the Igbo
C. Method of Study
This study is conducted using library research method, because the data
are obtained from books and texts related to the topic and work under discussion.
The primary data is the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The
secondary data are obtained from books and articles from the internet including
theories, references, critics, and any related topics.
This study employs theories about conflict, types of conflict, and Western
colonization. Several steps are taken to conduct this study. First, the writer read
the work under discussion. Second, the writer found the topic and formulated the
problems in the form of questions. Three questions are raised in the problem
formulation, namely the question about the conflicts in Chinua Achebe’s Things
Fall Apart, the condition of Igbo society before and after the infiltration of
Christianity as seen in its conflicts, and the results of the infiltration of
Christianity. Lastly, the writer answered the questions systematically by referring
This chapter aims to answer the problem formulation in the first chapter.
This chapter is divided into three parts. The first part will identify the conflicts in
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart; the second part will discover the condition of
Igbo society before the infiltration of Christianity, and the third part will discover
the results of the infiltration of Christianity, both to Igbo society and to the
A. Conflicts in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
This part discusses the conflicts in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,
based on the theories of conflict in literary work discussed in the second chapter.
The discussion of conflicts in this part is divided into two parts: the conflicts that
occur before the arrival of Christianity and after the arrival of Christianity.
1. Conflicts before the Arrival of Christianity
Conflict is the struggle arising from the interplay of one or more human
beings and an opposing force in a plot (Holman and Harmon, 1986: 107). There
are some conflicts experienced by the characters in this novel before the arrival of
Christianity, both as individuals and collectively. In accordance with Redman’s
theory (1962: 363), those conflicts are divided into two types, inner conflicts and
a. Inner Conflict
Inner conflict is the struggle occurring within a character. Therefore, it
involves psychological or emotional struggle instead of physical struggle
(Redman, 1962: 363). Inner conflicts are experienced by several characters in the
novel, namely Okonkwo, Nwoye, and Ekwefi.
Okonkwo has been experiencing a great inner conflict for a long time. It is
the conflict between him and the fear of failure and weakness. The example set by
his father makes him so scared of being a weak, failing man. He copes with his
own fear by behaving as an aggressive and cruel man.
Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo’s fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father (1994: 13).
Okonkwo also undergoes another inner conflict when dealing with Ikemefuna, a
young boy from another village who was given to their village as a sacrifice to
avoid war. Ikemefuna lives in Okonkwo’s household for three years until he is
regarded as a member of the family. Indeed, Okonkwo loves him like a son and
Ikemefuna himself “could hardly imagine that Okonkwo was not his real father”
(1994: 59). When the time arrives to kill Ikemefuna as a sacrifice, Okonkwo feels
a conflict between his feeling of affection to Ikemefuna on one side, and his
responsibility and reputation as a clansman on the other side. Finally, along with
his inner conflict continues afterwards. He feels guilty and cannot forget about his
He did not sleep at night. He tried not to think about Ikemefuna, but the more he tried the more he thought about him (1994: 61).
Okonkwo tries to overcome this inner conflict by scolding himself. He reminds
himself that he is a brave warrior who has killed other men in battles previously.
“When did you become a shivering old woman,” Okonkwo asked himself, “you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have bcome a woman indeed” (1994: 65).
Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, undergoes an inner conflict; on one hand, he is
by nature a sensitive and gentle-hearted person, but on the other hand, he
understands that the culture of his society demands men to be masculine. Nwoye’s
sensitive side is shown in his fondness of his mother’s fantasy tales and his sorrow
upon finding neglected twin babies in the forest. However, he tries to shed his
sensitive side “to be masculine and to be violent” (1994: 53) in order to get his
father’s approval and avoid violence. He pretends to enjoy his father’s “masculine
stories of violence and bloodshed” (1994: 53) while deep down still preferring his
But he now knew that they were for foolish women and children, and he knew that his father wanted him to be a man. And so he feigned that he no longer cared for women’s stories. And when he did this he saw that his father was pleased, and no longer rebuked him or beat him (1994: 54).
Ekwefi, one of Okonkwo’s wife, undergoes an inner conflict when Chielo,
the priestess of Agbala, asks to take Ezinma. Ekwefi has previously lost nine of
Ekwefi does not dare refuse the will of Agbala, a powerful deity figure. On the
other side, as a mother, she loves her child very much and does not want to lose
her child, in case the gods decide to take her child. With the conflict between fear
and love of her child still going inside her, Ekwefi decides to follow Chielo and
Ezinma secretly. She is willing to take the risk for following the priestess of
Agbala, because she cannot leave her child.
Ekwefi stood rooted to the spot. One mind said to her: “Woman, go home before Agbala does you harm.” But she could not (1994: 105).
b. External Conflict
Meanwhile, external conflict is the struggle between one or more
characters, especially the protagonist or protagonists, against an outside force
(Redman, 1962: 363). As discussed by Holman and Harmon (1986: 108), external
conflict can be further classified into four types based on the opposing force faced
by the protagonist, namely conflict against nature, against another person, against
society, and against destiny.
i. Conflict Against Nature
The first type of conflict is conflict against nature. In this type of conflict,
the character or characters deal with natural forces. A simple example occurs in
Umuofia, the village where the protagonist lives. All Umuofia people are scared
of the dark, as stated in the novel: “Darkness held a vague terror for these people,
even the bravest among them” (1994: 9). The people regard darkness as an enemy,
which may harm them and bring about evil spirits. Thus, a conflict occurs
inside their own huts at night, where they can have some light, and speaking
carefully to avoid evil spirits.
All Umuofia people, including Okonkwo as the protagonist, often have
conflicts against the weather: Umuofia is an agriculture village where people
depend on farming for their livelihood; if the weather turns bad, it will destroy
their crops and thus ruining their source of livelihood. As a young man, Okonkwo
earns his living by share-cropping or farming yams for other man and getting a
third of the harvest. The first time Okonkwo does share-cropping in large
quantity, the weather is exceptionally bad.
Nothing happened at its proper time; it was either too early or too late. […] The first rains were late, and, when they came, lasted only a brief moment. The blazing sun returned, more fierce than it had ever been known, and scorched all the green that had appeared with the rains. The earth burned like hot coals and roasted all the yams that had been sown (1994: 23).
Despite Okonkwo’s hard work, all his yams, as well as many other farmers’ yams,
are dead due to the long drought. After that, rain falls “in violent torrents” (1994:
24) for days and nights without stopping. All farmers try their best to preserve
their remaining crops, but in the end, their harvest is very poor, bringing despair
That year the harvest was sad, like a funeral, and many farmers wept as they dug up the miserable and rotting yams. One man tied his cloth to a tree branch and hanged himself (1994: 24).
To deal in the conflict against the weather, the village has a man called the
rain-maker who is able to stop or start rains, but his ability is limited.
the rain now, just as he would not attempt to start it in the heart of the dry season, without serious danger to his own health. The personal dynamism required to counter the forces of these extremes of weather would be far too great for the human frame (1994: 33-34).
Another conflict occurs between the Umuofia people and a kind of
disease, because it is a fatal disease which causes the patient’s body to swell and
finally causes death. This disease is regarded by the Umuofia people as a kind of
evil curse. They try to overcome it by leaving the patient in a place called Evil
When a man was afflicted with swelling in the stomach and the limbs he was not allowed to die in the house. He was carried to the Evil Forest and left there to die (1994: 18).
In this novel, natural forces also include various manifestations of gods
and spirits because Igbo society believes in those things, which are regarded as
part of the natural phenomenon. Ekwefi, one of Okonkwo’s wives, keeps losing
her babies in infancy. She has borne ten children and nine of them die before the
age of three, which greatly saddens her. The deaths are most likely due to poor
health care or a medical condition called Infant Death Syndrome, but according to
traditional Igbo mindset, the deaths are done by evil spirit called ogbanje.
Ogbanje is regarded as an enemy, which Ekwefi and Okonkwo try to fight. Thus,
a conflict occurs between Ekwefi and Okonkwo and the ogbanje.
To defeat the ogbanje in the conflict, Ekwefi consults a medicine man and
practices his advice, such as sleeping in her people’s hut during pregnancy to
“elude her wicked tormentor and break its evil cycle of birth (1994: 77). She lets
the medicine man mutilate the dead child and bury the body in the Evil Forest to
prevent the ogbanje from coming again (1994: 79). To prevent their tenth child,
Ezinma, from dying, Ekwefi and Okonkwo go through a long and difficult ritual
to find and destroy the iyi-uwa, a mystical object that connects Ezinma with the
world of ogbanje, led by a medicine man who is famous all through the clan.
And this faith had been strengthened when a year or so ago a medicine man had dug up Ezinma’s iyi-uwa. Everyone knew then that she would live because her bond with the world of ogbanje had been broken. Ekwefi was reassured (1994: 80).
The last conflict between Ekwefi and Okonkwo against the spiritual world
occurs when Chielo, a holy priestess, takes Ezinma away for a night. As parents,
naturally Ekwefi and Okonkwo do not want to be separated from their daughter.
Moreover, they do not know what will happen to her or where Chielo will take
her. They are afraid of losing their daughter, in case the spirits decide to take her
away or use her as a sacrifice. On the other hand, religion is very dominant and
powerful in Igbo culture. People cannot refuse a holy priestess’ request; even if
Chielo or the spirits take Ezinma away forever, there is nothing Ekwefi and
Okonkwo can do. Finally, they give Ezinma to Chielo, but they secretly follow
her and wait nearby.
Before the dawn, Chielo returns Ezinma. Ezinma herself remains alive to the end
of the novel.
Egwugwu are masked ancestral spirits from the underworld that possess
the body of important clansmen, whose identity is kept secret. Sometimes the
egwugwu can be violent and create a conflict against Umuofia villagers.
Some of them were very violent, and there had been a mad rush for shelter earlier in the day when one appeared with a sharp machete and was only prevented from doing serious harm by two men who restrained him with the help of a strong rope tied round his waist. Sometimes he turned round and chased those men, and they ran for their lives (1994: 121).
Umuofia people do not have any hope to win against such ancestral spirit, as
shown by their previous experience. Thus, they choose to give up in that conflict
because it is useless to fight.
Many years ago another egwugwu had dared to stand his ground before him and had been transfixed to the spot for two days (1994: 122).
ii Conflict Against Another Person
The second type of conflict is conflict against another person. This conflict
is different with conflict against society that focuses on the struggle of the
protagonists against certain society value, conflict against another person involves
struggle between the protagonist and another character as the antagonist. The
conflict against another person may occur between an individual and another
individual, between an individual and a group of people, or even between groups.
Okonkwo, the protagonist of the novel, has many conflicts against other people.
Firstly, a conflict occurs between Okonkwo and his father. Because of his
father’s total failure in life, Okonkwo had to suffer. As a result, Okonkwo hates
his father resolutely since he was very young. He “had no patience with his
father” (1994: 4) and is determined to hate his father all his life.
Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title. And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion—to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved (1994: 13).
Conflicts also occur between Okonkwo against his wives and children. He
is a very hard worker and he forces his wives and children to work as hard as he
does, while in fact his wives and children cannot match his strength and
He was a very strong man and rarely felt fatigue. But his wives and young children were not as strong, and so they suffered. But they dared not complain openly (1994: 13).
He especially forces his son Nwoye, whom he considers lazy, to be as
hardworking as him “by constant nagging and beating” (1994: 13). It makes
Nwoye depressed and dislike his own father.
Conflicts between Okonkwo against his wives and children also occur
because of his temper, which drives him to get mad at his wives and children so
easily, although they only make small mistakes.
Even the smallest mistakes from his wives or son are enough to make Okonkwo
lose his temper, which result in a conflict with his wives or son. He would not
mind beating his son heavily because his son cries upon finding out that
Ikemefuna, a boy that has been regarded as a family member, will be taken away
(1994: 57), as well as beating his youngest wife just because she fails to cook the
Okonkwo was provoked to justifiable anger by his youngest wife, who went to plait her hair at her friend’s house and did not return early enough to cook the afternoon meal. […] And when she returned he beat her very heavily (1994: 29).
When his wife mutters some negative remark about him, he shoots at her. He
might easily have killed her, but his shot misses and thus his wife stays alive.
Unfortunately for her, Okonkwo heard it and ran madly into his room for the loaded gun, ran out again and aimed at her as she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn. He pressed the trigger and there was a loud report accompanied by the wail of his wives and children. He threw down the gun and jumped into the barn, and there lay the woman, very much shaken and frightened but quite unhurt (1994: 38-39).
Once, the wife does not even make any mistake. She only cuts some banana
leaves to wrap some food, but Okonkwo has been feeling angry and uses her as
the outlet for all his anger. Finally he beats her up.
And then the storm burst. Okonkwo, who had been walking about aimlessly in his compound in suppressed anger, suddenly found an outlet. “Who killed this banana tree?” he asked.
Outside his family, Okonkwo easily gets angry with other villagers, especially the
ones who are less successful or has lower status than him. Whenever Okonkwo
gets angry with someone, he quickly attacks him or her with physical violence,
resulting in a fight. Thus, conflicts often occur between Okonkwo and other
He had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists. He had no patience with unsuccessful men (1994: 4).
As mentioned above, Okonkwo easily gets angry with less successful men.
Whenever it happens, he becomes offensive and attacks the less successful person
psychologically. As a result, a conflict occurs between Okonkwo and the person
he attacks. For instance, a man opposes Okonkwo’s opinions in a meeting.
Okonkwo attacks the man by taunting his lack of ‘title’ sharply, which makes the
man down psychologically.
Only a week ago a man had contradicted him at a kindred meeting which they held to discuss the next ancestral feast. Without looking at the man Okonkwo had said: “This meeting is for men.” The man who had contradicted him had no titles. That was why he had called him a woman. Okonkwo knew how to kill a man’s spirit (1994: 26).
Umuofia people experience conflicts among themselves as well. The
villagers sometimes have conflicts with their neighbors for various reasons. When
such conflicts occur, they go to consult a spiritual figure called the Oracle (1994:
16). For example, a conflict happens between a man named Uzowulu and his
brother-in-law, Odukwe. During their years of marriage, Uzowulu beats up his
house and beat him up. Mgbafo and her two children go with her brothers to their
house. Uzowulu demands his in-laws to give him back the bride-price because
Mgbafo leaves him on her own accord, instead of he sends her away.
You have taken back your sister. I did not send her away. You yourselves took her. The law of the clan is that you should return her bride-price (1994: 91).
Odukwe, Mgbafo’s eldest brother, refuses to return the bride-price to Uzowulu
because Mgbafo leaves Uzowulu to protect her self. Uzowulu has been beating
her continuously, even when she is pregnant or when she is recovering from an
illness. If she did not run away, she would be dead.
The law of Umuofia is that if a woman runs away from her husband her bride-price is returned. But in this case she ran away to save her life (1994: 92).
As a form of conflict between groups, tribal wars are usual occurrences among
Igbo people. Every time there is a war, there is a conflict between one tribe and
another tribe. Of course, each war has different causes and different intensity.
Tribal wars occur so often that it becomes a normal subject of conversation among
villagers, along with other subjects such as the weather and feasts. For instance,
Unoka and his friend Okoye talk “about the heavy rains which were drowning the
yams, about the next ancestral feast and about the impending war with the village
of Mbaino” (1994: 6). A man’s success can be measured by his achievement in
the wars, as reflected in the author’s appreciative comment on how Okonkwo has
iii. Conflict Against Society
The third type of conflict is conflict between the characters against society,
the conflicts that happen because the clash of different values. In this type of
conflict, the character’s action or belief contrasts with the values believed by the
society where he or she lives. Okonkwo experiences this kind of conflict twice.
First, he beats his wife in the Week of Peace. According to the traditional belief,
the Week of Peace is a sacred week before planting season begins. During this
period, every villager must treat each other peacefully and refrain from any form
of violence in order to please the earth goddess, so that the earth goddess gives her
blessing to the village in the form of good harvest. Okonkwo gets so angry with
his wife that he forgets that it is the Week of Peace. His violent action obviously
conflicts with the clan’s rules. It is “unheard of” in their village (1994: 30). As the
consequence, Ezeani, the priest of the earth goddess later comes to Okonkwo’s
place and scolds him.
“You are not a stranger in Umuofia. You know as well as I do that our forefathers ordained that before we plant any crops in the earth we should observe a week in which a man does not say a harsh word to his neighbor. We live in peace with our fellows to honor our great goddess of the earth without whose blessing our crops will grow. You have committed a great evil” (1994: 30).
Ezeani further says that Okonkwo’s evil deed may ruin the whole clan by
angering the earth goddess. He gives Okonkwo punishment to atone for his evil
deed (1994: 31).
Okonkwo also has a conflict against society when he commits a
manslaughter, or accidental killing, of a clansman. While dancing the traditional
son. Killing a clansman, whether accidentally or on purpose, is against the clan’s
rules. Therefore, Okonkwo must face the punishment in the form of temporary
exile from the clan.
It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clansman, and a man who committed it must flee from the land. The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent. He could return to the clan after seven years (1994: 124).
iv. Conflict Against Destiny
The fourth type of conflict is conflict against destiny. In this type of
conflict, the character struggles against the greatest force or his or her creator to
build or change his or her own destiny. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, experiences
this kind of conflict. All through his life, he always has bad luck, which according
to Igbo traditional belief, is caused by his bad chi or personal god.
Unoka was an ill-fated man. He had a bad chi or personal god, and evil fortune followed him to the grave, or rather to his death, for he had no grave (1994: 18).
Once, Unoka consults the Oracle Agbala and reports how he always practices all
the traditional rituals and makes sacrifices to the gods. The priest replies that
Unoka’s bad luck is due to his own laziness.
You have offended neither the gods nor your fathers. And when a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm. You, Unoka, are known in all the clan for the weakness of your machete and your hoe. When your neighbors go out with their ax to cut down virgin forests, you sow your yams on exhausted farms that take no labor to clear (1994: 17).
Until the end of his life, Unoka fails to overcome his laziness. Thus, he loses in
Okonkwo also experiences conflicts against destiny. His father is known as a
worthless man in their village. He has no title and no money; instead, he has a lot
of debt. As a result, Okonkwo is raised with a lot of disadvantages both socially
and financially. It can be said that Okonkwo is destined to be poor and worthless.
With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife (1994: 18).
However, due to his hard work, Okonkwo manages to fight against his
circumstances. He works very hard on his farm, starting from the bottom until he
becomes wealthy. He has outstanding achievements in wrestling competitions and
tribal wars. Eventually, he is considered as a successful man in all respects, thus
succeeding in his struggle against destiny.
He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife. To crown it all he had taken two titles and had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars. And so although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest men of his time (1994: 8).
Later, just like his father, Okonkwo also experiences conflict related to his
chi or personal god. Everything seems to be going smoothly for Okonkwo; he has
achieved wealth, fame, and social status due to his years’ worth of hard work.
Then all of a sudden, he accidentally kills a man, which causes him to be cast out
of the clan. Okonkwo believes that his bad luck is due to his negative chi, which
cancels out all of his positive efforts.
chi. The saying of the elders was not true—that if a man said yea his chi also affirmed. Here was a man whose chi said nay despite his own affirmation (1994: 131).
Despite his despair, Okonkwo still tries to regain his position in his clan after his
period of exile is over. It shows that he has not given up in his struggle against
2. Conflicts after the Arrival of Christianity
Various conflicts also occur among the characters in the novel, both as
individuals and collectively, after Western people bring Christianity into Igbo
society. Those conflicts also consist of inner dan external conflicts.
a Inner Conflict
After the arrival of Christianity, there is only one significant inner conflict,
namely the conflict felt by Nwoye when he wants to leave his traditional faith and
convert to Christianity. He feels that Christianity can give the peace and relief that
he wants, but Christianity is a foreign faith which contrasts with the faith of his
society and family.
He felt a relief within as the hymn poured into his parched soul. The words of the hymn were like the drops of frozen rain melting on the dry palate of the panting earth. Nwoye’s callow mind was greatly puzzled (1994: 147).
Thus, Nwoye feels an inner conflict between his feeling of attraction toward
Christianity on one side, and the fear of his family on the other side.
Due to his inner conflict, Nwoye passes the temporary church building repeatedly
the next Sunday, “without summoning enough courage to enter” (1994: 150).
Eventually, he can overcome his inner conflict and decides to convert to
b. External Conflict i. Conflict Against Nature
From the external conflicts, there is no significant conflict against nature
after the arrival of Christianity. The other two types of external conflict, namely
conflict against another person and against society, comprise the majority of
conflicts in this period.
ii. Conflict Against Another Person
Conflicts against another person consist of conflicts between Igbo people
against the Westerners and conflicts within Igbo society. In the first category, a
serious conflict happens between the clan of Abame against the Westerners. It
begins when a white man arrives in Abame. The villagers consult the Oracle, who
says that the man will bring destruction, so they kill the white man. Several days
later a group of white men accompanied by many black men come and murder all
the villagers. The clan is now empty and the lake “has turned the color of blood”
The conflicts that occur within the Igbo society encompass conflicts
among family members and among clansmen. This kind of conflict occurs when
Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, leaves the traditional faith and converts to Christianity.
His family, especially his father, strongly opposes Nwoye’s decision because Igbo
belief places much value in devotion towards their ancestors. If Okonkwo’s
children abandon their faith, nobody will care for Okonkwo’s spirit when he is
He saw himself and his fathers crowding round their ancestral shrine waiting in vain for worship and sacrifice and finding nothing but ashes of ygone days, and his children the while praying to the white man’s god (1994: 153).
When he first finds out about Nwoye’s conversion, Okonkwo tries to kill Nwoye
by choking him and giving him “two or three savage blows” before Nwoye’s
uncle tells him to stop (1994: 151-152). Nwoye does not say a word to his family;
he leaves his family in Mbanta and lives with the missionaries in Umuofia. On the
other hand, Mr. Kiaga, the missionary, is happy when he finds out that Nwoye
leaves his family.
Mr. Kiaga’s joy was great. “Blessed is he who forsakes his father and his mother for my sake,” he intoned (1994: 152).
In front of his other sons, Okonkwo curses Nwoye’s “great abomination” and
declares that he is “no longer my son or your brother” (1994: 172). He does not
even want to speak about Nwoye to Obierika, an old family friend (1994: 144).
Nwoye does not acknowledge Okonkwo as his father, either.
“What are you doing here?” Obierika had asked when after many difficulties the missionaries had allowed him to speak to the boy.