Literature is a Mirror of Society”. Justify the statement in the light of the excerpt given. What…
Literature is a Mirror of Society”. Justify the statement in the light of the excerpt given. What is your impression about African society in terms of leadership, Village life, Work and Relationships?
(10 marks) 500 words
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
At just eighteen, Okonkwo wins fame as the strongest wrestler in nine villages and beyond, throwing Amalinze the Cat, who for seven years had been unbeaten. Okonkwo’s fame continues to grow over the next decades as he takes several wives and has children, but he lacks patience and is easily provoked into aggression, using his fists when he can’t get his words out quickly enough. He also quickly grows impatient with unsuccessful men like his father.
Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, died ten years earlier. He was known for being lazy and irresponsible, owing all his neighbors money. Unoka loved music, playing the flute with the village musicians after harvest. He lived a carefree life as a young man, visiting different markets to play music and feast. However, as a grown man, Unoka was considered a failure, and his wife and children had barely enough to eat. Even though people laughed at him and swore never to lend him more money, Unoka always succeeded in borrowing more and piling up his debts.
The narrator tells us of a day when Unoka’s neighbor Okoye comes to visit, bringing his goatskin to sit on, and Unoka takes out a kola nut for his guest. Unoka and Okoye argue about who should break the kola nut, and then speak for some time about health, harvest, and war. The last subject makes Unoka uncomfortable because he dislikes war, and so he changes the subject to music. Finally, Okoye comes to the point of his visit—he wants to collect Unoka’s debt of 200 cowries. Okoye approaches the subject in lengthy proverbs, which the narrator describes as “the palm-oil with which words are eaten,” and when Unoka finally understands what Okoye wants, he bursts out laughing. Unoka points to chalk lines on his wall that represent his debts and settles the matter by saying that he will pay his big debts first. Okoye rolls up his goatskin and leaves.
When Unoka died, he had no titles and was still heavily in debt. Okonkwo is very ashamed of his father, but wins fame for himself as the greatest wrestler in nine villages and as a wealthy farmer with three wives, two barns full of yams, and two titles. Although still young, Okonkwo is already one of the greatest men of his time. As a result, he comes to look after Ikemefuna, the doomed boy who is later sacrificed to the village of Umuofia by their neighbors in order to avoid war.