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The Death of African Identity Theme Historical Identity In these heady days of seemingly daily advancement of culture and technology the central debate of Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart seems to have been answered The advancement and the adoption of the new has superceded the desire to hold onto tradition Around the world languages are disappearing and cultures becoming homogenized as people grasp at advancement seizing onto Western beliefs and products Things Fall Apart shows the genesis of this now global condition reflected in the personal struggles of its characters in particular the main character Okonkwo The question of whether change should be privileged over tradition involves the personal values of the characters Okonkwos greatness is based on the traditional methods of the Igbo he is destroyed in the end by his unwillingness to accept the changes that were being wrought in the Igbo society The novel does not idealize the African society nor does it completely demonize the European Rather it seems that Achebes intention was to present African society in a non-stereotyped way and to show what was lost when Igbo identity was swallowed by European incursion Igbo tradition represented by Okonkwo does not survive contact with the Europeans because it is not adapted for change Historical identity is incredibly important to the Igbo and this proves to be their undoing in the end as they cling to it in the face of needed change Okonkwo is a man dominated by fear His greatest fear is to be like his father who was opposed to the traditional values of the Igbo Judged by the values of the clan Unoka was lazy and cowardly He took no titles and died in disgrace In his defence he was a gentle man and talented musician who was unsuited for the chauvinistic culture into which he was born Okonkwo is sickened by the thought of being associated with his father in this way he embraces with
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