Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart Traditions and Customs Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
“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)
One of the deepest values of the Umuofia is family and unity within the community. Recently, the younger generation has ignored or depreciated those bonds of kinship. The older generation blames the loss of traditional values for the takeover of the missionaries. They see salvation only in reverting back to the old ways.
[Obierika]: “Does the white man understand our custom about land?”
[Okonkwo]: “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs bad.” (20.25-26)
The people who convert to Christianity suddenly have a change of heart on all the customs that they have grown up following. Everything related to the old ways of the Umuofia suddenly seem “bad” to them.
It was the time of the full moon. But that night the voice of children was not heard. The village ilo where they always gathered for a moon-play was empty. The women of Iguedo did not meet in their secret enclosure to learn a new dance to be displayed later to the village. Young men who were always abroad in the moonlight kept their huts that night. Their manly voices were not heard on the village paths as they went to visit their friends and lovers. Umuofia was like a startled animal with ears erect, sniffing the silent, ominous air and not knowing which way to run. (23.25)
The capture and ransom of Umuofia’s leaders disrupts the fabric of life so much that the villagers do not continue their customary nightly activities. They stay in their huts, immobilized by fear and confusion. Such an offense has never been committed against their leaders and the villagers don’t know how to react.