Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At first, the Mbanta remain relatively unworried about the church in the Evil Forest. They have little interaction, until the missionaries overstep their bounds. Three converts—villages who have converted to Christianity— boast that the Mbanta gods are dead and that they will burn their shrines. This talk outrages the villagers, who beat the converts. Nothing happens between the church and the clan for a while afterwards.
The new religion begins to clash more with the clan's traditions, creating conflict. Interestingly, it's the converts to Christianity who are most aggressive, as if now they want to prove that their choice was the right one. Though nothing major has happened yet, we begin to see hints that larger conflict is on its way.
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Rumors begin to spread that the white men are bringing their government as well as their religion, using their court system to judge clan members. In Mbanta, these stories still seem like myth, however, since Mr. Kiaga, the interpreter seems harmless. As for the converts, they're still considered clan members, so killing one of them would result in exile.
The rumors that the church and government are entwined foreshadow the white man's eventual takeover. In fact, this is another place where the clan and the white man's system converge, since in Umuofia's justice system, their masked gods decide the outcomes of trials. Notice how the Christian's lack of aggression makes them sneakily powerful, allowing them to build a strong position without arousing a response from the clan.
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The church begins to accept outcasts, or osu, as members, causing a stir among the converts, who say that the heathens will ridicule them for accepting osu into their church. Mr. Kiaga insists that they accept them anyway, since they are all children before God. In this manner, he loses one of the converts, but gains some very strong converts in the former outcasts.
The white man's religion begins to overturn the clan's hierarchy—it is a feature of the religion that they accept the weak and the powerless, and in so doing they give those powerless newfound power and cause the hierarchical structure of the clan to begin to fall apart.
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One of the outcasts, however, brings the church into conflict with the clan when he kills the royal python, the most revered animal in Mbanta. The clan decides to ostracize the Christians, preventing them from using the stream. When Mr. Kiaga demands to know why, they explain that they believe Okoli, one of the converts, killed the royal python. Okoli himself falls ill and dies, showing the clan members that the gods are fighting back. They decide to pursue no further actions against the Christians.
Again, note how it's the converts who are the most aggressive—who wish to punish those who still hold to the traditions that once oppressed them and to exercise the power they feel they have gained by converting. The clan members still have some faith in their religion, however, and they believe that their gods are stepping in to fight for them after Okoli dies from illness. Yet the clan seems to think that once their own gods have shown their power that the white men will back off or relent, that things are even between them.
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