Breaking Apart

Chapters 16 and 17 are very important chapters in this novel as we see the effects of the imperialists on Africa. Earlier parts of the novel focused on family relations and kinship, but not long after white men enter the villages we see signs of inner weakness among these units. Okonkwo and his oldest son’s relationship becomes even more strained as his son accepts the Christian faith. We also see the first woman convert (a pregnant woman) turning from her family after being forced to abandon past children because of traditions. Why do you believe Christianity appealed to certain people within the village?

2 Replies to “Breaking Apart”

  1. I believe it appealed because many of the people who converted were wronged by either the practices of their society’s main religion (the pregnant women) or by those people who are major figures within the the Igbo tribe (Okonkwo’s son). When you don’t feel that you’re meaningful part of the group, you are willing to explore more outside options as time goes on and as the conflict within you rises. The book even says at one point that the leaders of the tribe were not worried because those who were leaving and converting were not the best that the tribe had to offer, so they didn’t shed to many tears about their departure. If these individuals were being criticized the same way before they left (which in the case of Okonkwo’s son is definitely true), it makes them feel that they are not really at home. Then, there is a new religion that wishes to spread their word throughout the land, that being Christianity, and the missionaries who are charged with doing so do not know these people. They won’t turn them away. They seek to make strides for their own means and end goals, so they will gladly accept any who want to join them. It creates a perfect situation for people within the tribe who feel socially isolated to start fresh and be part of something they had been deprived of – a feeling of purpose and importance that was not available in traditional society. We can see the danger here posed by the imperialist powers because as time goes on, people will look to the success of those from the tribe who have already converted and wonder what might await them, potentially causing more and more conversions from the traditional religion. of the Igbo.

  2. I think Christanity appealed to people who otherwise felt alienated by the society and culture they lived in, not people who were necessarily disillusioned or unsatisfied with their culture’s religious beliefs. When Nwoye first hears about Christianity, “it was not the mad logic of the Trinity that captivated him. He did not understand it. It was the poetry of the new religion, something felt in the marrow” (ch 16). I think the apparent acceptance of everyone that the English Church offers is the driving force that leads some to convert. However, over time, I think those reasons become more complicated and at the same time that acceptance becomes more exclusive.

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