An Analysis of Culture in Things Fall Apart

1683 words 7 pages
The novel “Things Fall Apart” written by Chinua Achebe, is a tale based on the traditional beliefs and customs of an Ibo village during late 1800’s Africa. Through the telling of this story, we witness the remarkable depth of Igbo culture through its functions of religion, politics, judiciary and entertainment.
One of Achebe’s challenges was to illustrate the Ibo’s religious system. Even though the Ibo people had little contact with the outside world, they had developed their own beliefs and practices that became essential elements in their everyday lives. The Ibo religion played a role in the way they raised their families, communicated, entertained, and governed their society. Similar to those of the early Egyptian and Greek religions,
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We have men of high title and the chief priests and the elders.” In the Ibo culture, men of high power were said to be given a high “title”. This system of hierarchy is similar to the ranks that governors and senators hold in the United States—and it appears that promiscuity is still common in both political systems (take John Edwards for example…).
Whenever Ibo villagers needed to settle disputes, they would call upon the spirits of their ancestors (called egwugwu) to make communal decisions in court. On page 87, nine egwugwu are summoned to settle a dispute between a husband and his wife, Mgbafo. The trail is centered around what’s called the “egwugwu house” (equivalent to the home of a judge) judged by the leader of the egwugwu, named “Evil forest.” On page 89, Achebe describes the beginning of the trial, “He (Evil Forest) took the first of the empty stools, and the eight other egwugwu began to sit in order of seniority after him,” which is very similar to the practices of the modern day US judiciary system when the judge is seated and members of the jury do so afterwards. In this case, Mgbafo has been accused of leaving her husband without returning her bride-price (money paid at the wedding) after he had beaten her. On page 92, it is states, “The law of Umuofia is that if a woman runs


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