Things Fall Apart
Family Quotes Page 11
How we cite our quotes:
[Uchendu]: “We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, a man asks his kinsman to scratch him.” (19.9)
Uchendu celebrates family much as the Christians celebrate brotherhood, by claiming that everyone in the family must help one another. He considers the support a family gives one another the defining characteristic of humanity. Without family or respect for your family, you might as well be an animal.
“It is good in these days when the younger generation consider themselves wiser than their sires to see a man doing things in the grand, old way. A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.” (19.24)
A family feast is not thrown to meet a family’s physical need for sustenance; it is a loftier event than that. A feast is a celebration of the family’s kinship.
“But I fear for you young people because you do not understand how strong is the bond of kinship. You do not know what it is to speak with one voice. And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you. A man can now leave his father and his brothers. He can curse gods of his fathers and his ancestors, like a hunter’s dog that suddenly goes mad and turns on his master. I fear for you; I fear for you the clan.” (19.24)
This elder laments that the family of the clan has fallen apart and turned upon each other. He believes that Christianity is bad because it has motivated the break of up individual families and the solidarity of the clan. The clan is no longer “one voice” that speaks or one united body that acts for the good of all.