Things Fall Apart
How we cite our quotes:
“What are you doing here?” Obierika had asked when after many difficulties the missionaries had allowed him to speak to the boy.
“I am one of them,” replied Nwoye.
“How is your father?” Obierika asked, not knowing what else to say.
“I don’t know. He is not my father,” said Nwoye, unhappily.
And so Obierika went to Mbanta to see his friend. And he found that Okonkwo did not wish to speak about Nwoye. (16.3-6)
Both parties – father and son – have expressed a wish to isolate themselves from each other and cut off all contact or means of association. Each is ashamed to be connected to the other now, Nwoye because he has never forgiven his father for killing Ikemefuna and Okonkwo, because of Nwoye’s new religion. Despite their shared blood, there is no affection or respect in their relationships, and thus they no longer consider each other to be family.
When they had all gathered, the white man began to speak…He spoke through an interpreter who was an Ibo man…He said he was one of them, as they could see from his color and his language. The other four black men were also their brothers, although one of them did not speak Ibo. The white man was also their brother because they were all sons of God. And he told them about this new God, the Creator of all the world and all the men and women. (16.9)
The interpreter for the missionaries claims kinship with the Umuofia due to his skin color and language. However, he is mistaken in his claim of familiarity because his dialect is different enough to draw ridicule. Thus, his claims that the white man is also their brother because some arbitrary god said so is met with skepticism and downright scorn in the clan. Though the people of Umuofia do extend their understanding of family to their whole clan, kinship never expands to encompass other clans, and certainly not white men.
“You told us with your own mouth that there was only one god. Now you talk about his son. He must have a wife, then.” The crowd agreed.
“I did not say He had a wife,” said the interpreter, somewhat lamely.
“Your buttocks said he had a son,” said the joker. So he must have a wife and all of them must have buttocks.” (16.20-22)
The Igbo people understandably conclude that the missionaries must be mad to claim that a son of god has no mother. It goes against the very fabric of their society to make such a claim and breaks down the hierarchy of the family. They do not understand the concept of the immaculate conception or the Trinity.