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Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

Man and the Natural World Quotes

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Quote #19

The courthouse, like the church, was built a little way outside the village. The footpath that linked them was a very busy one because it also led to the stream, beyond the court. It was open and sandy. Footpaths were open and sandy in the dry season. But when the rains came the bush grew thick on either side and closed in on the path. It was now dry season. (24.2)

The Christians place their courthouse and church at a strategic spot, one that reaps benefits from the earth (through the stream) and makes their buildings impossible for the Umuofia to avoid. However, the earth seems set against the Christians, closing off the footpath linking the church to the village during the rainy season.

Quote #20

[Obierika on Okonkwo’s corpse]: “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen. His body is evil, and only strangers may touch it. That is why we ask your people to bring him down, because you are strangers.” (25.15)

Suicide is a sin against the earth because people in fact owe their lives to the fertility and life-giving nature of the earth. Killing oneself is akin to thumbing one’s nose at the earth’s generosity.

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