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Exploring Nwoye’s Response to the Cultural Collision in Things Fall Apart

Jun 4, 2023 | 0 comments

Jun 4, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


The purpose of this essay is to analyze how Nwoye responded to the cultural clash caused by the Westerners. It will also explain how the collision of culture challenges his sense of identity and further discus on how his response shapes the meaning of the work in general.


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Nwoye is the eldest son of Okonkwo. He faced a lot of criticism from his father who considered him to be lazy. “Okonkwo ruled his house hold with a heavy hand”(Achebe, 1959).His father thought the best way to straighten him was by beating and nagging constantly, this resulted to so much sadness in Nwoye’s life. Nwoye’s grew so much distant from his father because of his cruelty and his treatment towards the female members of the family (Shmoop, 2018). He could not confide in his father because of fear; Okonkwo disliked gentleness and associated it with women. Nwoye’s true identity could not show because he always lived to please his father.

Nwoye grew fond of his adopted brother Ikemefuna, “he was like an elder brother to Nwoye” (Achebe, 1959). His brother made him to be the man that his father always wanted, the distance between him and his father grew even more when he came to learn that his father also took part in killing Ikemefuna (Shmoop, 2018). He could not understand his culture including a ritual where twins were not supposed to live so they were thrown away in the forest.

The arrival of the missionaries to Omuofia caused a stir among the villagers; it contradicted their beliefs about God and worship, especially when the missionaries urged them to live their “wicked” ways. They called the missionaries ‘foolish’ and lashed out harsh words to them expressing their dissatisfaction on their presence. However, Nwoye was so much interested with the new religion and I identified himself as one of them (chapter 16) when he was asked by Obierika (Achebe, 1959). In chapter seventeen, “…Nwoye had been attracted to the new faith from the very first day”. He had a positive response to the new culture and found his personality through Christianity (Young, 2014).

It is clearly stated in chapter seventeen that though Nwoye identified himself with Christianity, he was still afraid to tell his father. These are some of the challenges he faced because of his change of culture (Cliffnotes, 2016). He father nearly killed him by chocking because of the stand he took. Once he made a decision to leave his home, he found happiness and the sadness that he lived with fade away, “He was happy to live his father”. At this point it showed that the only thing that he cared for was his happiness and wished that his father would realize how fulfilling Christianity was and leave his traditional ways and follow him (Enotes, 2018).


Nwoye’s response to the cultural collision shapes the meaning of the work in general in a way that the Igbo culture becomes irrelevant. In chapter twenty when Okonkwo was talking to Obierika, “what is that has happened to our people? Why have they lost the power to fight?” it shows how things started to fall apart for the Umuofia people because they lost the determination and their traditional ways were threatened by the arrival of the missionaries (Achebe, 1959).


Achebe, C. (1959). Things fall apart. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett.

Cliffnotes. (2016). Major Themes in Things Fall Apart. Retrieved from https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/t/things-fall-apart/critical-essays/major-themes-in-things-fall-apart

Help, H., & Apart, T. (2018). How did Nwoye change as a person in Things Fall Apart during the course of the novel (especially in regards to converting to Christianity)? | eNotes. Retrieved from https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/how-did-nwoye-change-person-during-course-novel-245397

Shmoop. (2018). Shmoop Opt In. Retrieved from https://www.shmoop.com/things-fall-apart/nwoye.html#

Young, L. (2014). Nwoye’s Response to Western Ideas. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/7qdkdr2yzr3w/nwoyes-response-to-western-ideas/

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