The novel Things Fall Apart was published in 1958. The novel introduces an Ibo community free of outside influences during the 1880's. Achebe recreates a realistic society complete with a governmental structure, societal structure, and a functioning economy. It would be safe to say that this African society was civilized. Throughout the novel Ibo traditions were portrayed, such as the Feast of the New Yam (36), the Week of Peace (32), and the consultation of the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves (12). The arrival of the white man brought about the introduction of Christian missionaries and it is at this point that things begin to "fall apart" in the African society as the white man attempts to "civilize" the Africans. The novel portrays the impact of European colonization on the indigenous Ibo culture. The clash of these two entirely different cultures leads to a destructive and tragic outcome.
Achebe's most acclaimed literary work, Things Fall Apart, yields a tremendous amount of information regarding African culture before and during Africa's European colonization. Things Fall Apart follows three eras in African history that focus on the book's central theme: pre-colonial Africa, European colonization, and post-colonial Africa. The following essay examines Things Fall Apart while paying attention to the societal disorder caused by the clash of African and European value systems. This essay also examines Achebe's representation of the decline of African civilization brought about though Africa's colonial period.
One of the most obvious signs of civilization in the Ibo community is their caste system. It was considered a great accomplishment for a man to receive a title in the village. For those who are lazy or idle, they are rejected by society and also by their family. The governmental structure was composed of a council of elders or ndichie (12). By giving the elders this great position was to acknowledge their wisdom.