Things Fall Apart


Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Two years later, Obierika returns to Mbanta to visit Okonkwo, this time with news that the white missionaries have come to Umuofia. Furthermore, he reports that Okonkwo's eldest son, Nwoye, is among them, which is why Obierika has come to see Okonkwo. Okonkwo refuses to discuss Nwoye, so it is only from Nwoye's mother that Obierika hears what happened.
Nwoye represents the changing world of the clans, as a young person who has joined the Christians. The new religion is bringing changes to Mbanta and Umuofia. Okonkwo continues to refuse to discuss—to use language—regarding any issue that displeases him.
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The missionaries arrived some time earlier in Mbanta, causing a stir. Although everyone came to see the white men, most clansmen didn't take them very seriously. The villagers made fun of the translator, whose dialect of Igbo makes him sound like he's saying “my buttocks” instead of “myself.” However, Nwoye was captivated by the hymn he heard about brothers who sat in darkness and in fear. It reminded him of the twins crying in the bush and of Ikemefuna.
The Mbanta did not think of the white men as a threat because they spoke little, and when they did speak didn't speak well. Yet it is the very quietness or gentleness of the white men's religion that attracts Nwoye, and it is implied through Nwoye's thoughts about the abandoned twins that the Christian religion may appeal to the other members of the clans who feel oppressed or powerless.
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