Sample English Essay Paper on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


There are different nations in the world with various communities having diverse cultural practices; societal norms, beliefs, and gender roles for each irrespective of sex among other different ways of life. In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the people of Umofia have customs that they follow strictly. They are discussed in detail including religious practices, cultural activities such as customary offerings to the ancestors, pouring of libation, name-calling, and birthrights among others. This essay will focus on the cultural fears, among the customs of the people Umofia. It will also analyze the two cultural fears, in relation to the customs of the community in question

The Cultural Fears

Two predominant cultural fears stand out in the novel. They include; the fear of evil spirits and that of ancestral spirits. These particular spirits are different though one may be tempted to believe that they are similar or rather, that they serve the same cultural purpose.

Among the people of Umofia, there was a great fear of evil spirits, and every individual tried as much as possible to distance themselves with them. For the children who were still growing up and being natured in the society, as part of their enculturation process from childhood to adulthood, they were greatly encouraged to distance themselves from evils spirits. At night, both children and adults kept quiet, and the community members feared the dark; even the most courageous ones, and the young ones were instructed not to whistle at night for fear of being attacked by evil spirits (Achebe, 7).

According to the customs of the people, this particular fear made a lot of sense to them since they believed the evil spirits could bring misfortune and other sufferings to the society. They further believed that the evil spirits were very much attentive at night, and therefore one was not supposed to mention them. They included snakes among other dangerous animals that became very much uncanny in the dark.

The second cultural fear significantly considered by the people of Umofia is that of ancestral spirits, which they referred to as Agbala. The fear resulted from the respect given to these spirits, which had their oracles, located in hills and caves, and were believed to be posses kindness, goodwill among other fortunes to the society (Achebe, 12). The community members therefore developed fear of going against their wishes since they had the capability of bringing misfortune to the society.This would be in form of poor harvest, drought, floods, thunder, and tsunamis. These troubles would arise if their will was not done, and in the process, the society members would have gone contrary to the expectations and the agreed cultural practices and norms.

As a matter of fact, this fear was crucial in society. It was critical in shaping the societal ethics as well as human respect that each and every individual deserved in the community. As a modern literary scholar, it sounds very relevant to me since it was the only way to shape the structure of society and conduct to human right standards.

In the modern society, there exists a culture of having the state and different arms of the government such as the judiciary and police who help in shaping societal ethics. Since they were absent during those times, these fears played very significant roles. The fears came about as a result of the misfortunes that faced the society and the elders later realized that it was due to acting in contrary ways to the wishes of the ancestors that trouble befell them. They also arose when the elders realized that some of the misfortunes facing the society resulted from association with the evils spirits, especially at night. Some of the comparable fear in our culture today is the fear of being imprisoned, more so death sentences, whenever one commits a serious crime.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Knopf, 1992. Print.