Things Fall ApartPosted: December 15, 2008
by Chinua Achebe
You may be surprised that I’ve never had to read this book for a class. Most people I know were assigned to read it at some point. I guess in all my linguistics/family history/English/sociology majors, we never got around to it – which, I’ll say now, is too bad. I would have liked discussing it with a big group of people.
The Romgi has been recommending Things Fall Apart for a while. He told me it’s really sad. I mentioned the book to a friend recently who said it’s depressing. Naturally, I was prepared for a horrifically sad, depressing story; but with only 10 pages left to go, I hadn’t come across anything of the sort and wondered if the Romgi was thinking of another book or if the last few pages were going to be extra intense (and sad).
Actually, the book made me angry. Not sad or depressed. Just angry that there is so much tendency to force our ideologies on others whenever we feel that their ways are inferior to ours. (I will not get into politics here.) A combination of the way I was raised, my religious views, and my excellent sociological training has shaped the way I perceive the world, and I really think that for the structures of society, economics, and culture, there isn’t one “right” way of doing things. Capitalism works well in the U.S. (more or less), but that doesn’t mean it’s the only acceptable economic system or that it’s right for everyone else. Same with the type of government we have. Same with western culture. Just because it’s what We do (and, sadly, usually We = Europeans and their descendants) does not mean it’s what They should do.
Ok, that being said, Things Fall Apart is also an incredibly interesting book to read because of the writing style. Very different from anything I’ve read before. And definitely enjoyable.
I didn’t mean to suggest that I disliked the book at all – just that it made me angry. Especially because so many people have read the book, become sad or angry or depressed because of the mindset of the colonial powers, and still today are convinced that in many ways We are superior to Them and They need our help to be brought out of their backwards culture/economy/society. Wrong.