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Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

Traditions and Customs Theme

Igbo lifestyle is highly stylized, from its ritual speech to the actions performed for certain ceremonies. Most of these formalized interactions occur in an attempt to show respect to some external being – another man, an ancestral spirit, or a god. Respect and knowledge of one’s role in society is very important in determining such customs. Another institution that rituals address and honor is the family unit. Stylized language, in particular, seeks to hold the family together by means of promises.

Questions About Traditions and Customs

  1. In such ritualized events as weddings and funerals, what aspects of life do the Igbo people celebrate or mourn?
  2. Much of Igbo culture includes highly stylized speech. What purpose does the formal way of speaking serve? To another man? To an audience? To a family member? To the gods?
  3. Is the younger generation of Umuofia straying away from long-established customs? What impact does the arrival of the Christians have?
  4. Can the Umuofia be a unified group of people without shared traditions?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The traditions of the Umuofia are used to show respect to either the family unit or the gods.

The coming of the Christians is the sole cause of the breakdown of Umuofia traditions and customs.

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