Things Fall Apart
How we cite our quotes:
Nneka had had four previous pregnancies and childbirths. But each time she had borne twins, and they had been immediately thrown away. Her husband and his family were already becoming highly critical of such a woman and were not unduly perturbed when they found she had fled to join the Christians. It was a good riddance. (17.13)
In her crucial role as part of the family – the mother of her husband’s children – Nneka has failed and thus is deemed worthless to the family. Yet, it is this very worthlessness and forlornness that wins her a new family among the Christians.
Mr. Kiaga’s joy was very great. “Blessed is he who forsakes his father and his mother for my sake,” he intoned. “Those that hear my words are my father and my mother.”
Nwoye did not fully understand. But he was happy to leave his father. He would return later to his mother and his brothers and sisters and convert them to the new faith. (17.23-24)
Christianity has concepts contradictory to Nwoye’s young mind. It asks followers to forsake their families to show loyalty to God. Yet at the same time, the religion reaffirms the sanctity of family in its very language, calling one’s peers brothers and sisters. While he’s happy to use his new religion as a justification for cutting ties with his father, Nwoye still loves his mother and sisters, and hopes eventually to bring them into his new family of Christian converts.
[Mr. Kiaga]: “We are all children of God and we must receive these our brothers.” (18.8)
Christianity encourages its followers to expand their notion of family to God as the father of all humans. Thus, Mr. Kiaga insists that all humans are his brothers and sisters and therefore he cannot refuse anyone – even the social outcasts – admission to his church.