Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Solidarity and Religion Amongst the Igbo

Above all else, what struck me most about the second half of the novel was the final method Achebe used to express the meaning of homeland: religion. So prevalent were the customs and traditions of the Igbo that I was taken completely by surprise when the Christians came, though in retrospect the thought had crossed my mind, albeit briefly. Achebe draws one so deeply into the culture that, even though I am a Catholic, I wanted nothing more than for the white men to leave the villages in peace and to not disrupt their way of life. Because even though they commit horrific acts such as mutilation and infanticide, the theme of the second half of the novel was definitely kinship and the importance of solidarity.

This is apparent throughout the entire novel, but most especially in the latter section of part 2 and part 3. In some instances it was more obvious, such as the feast Okonkwo threw for his motherland to show his gratitude and a nameless man completed the chapter with a speech about the importance of unity. This fact, that the man was nameless, shows that the concept of kinship was greatly important to the people of Igbo. Losing that notion came parallel with the molestation and harassment by both parties. However, in other instances the occasion is not clear because it is polluted by Okonkwo’s own desires for war and retribution, instances such as the formal town assemblies. This culminates in Okonkwo’s final act of killing the court messenger, the “final straw” before he takes in own life.

One scene that stands out above all is the conversation Mr. Brown had with Akunna about religion, a lone peaceful meeting of the minds on the topic of religion, similar to what we do today. If all were similar in the desire to learn and understand one another, to achieve a sort of unity, perhaps certain events could have been avoided.

No comments:

Post a Comment