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Assignment - things fall apart

Priyanka Manglani 6.5/10 850

Question- Critically analyze the wrestling match in Achebes things fall apart.

Chinua Achebes much talked about Things Fall Apart is not only a novel that critiques colonization but rather in the first place aims to depict the culture of igerians before colonization happened. !t focuses more on their traditions and customs and puts them at par with both as a society and te"t. Achebes novel ennobles the reader with the much ##ignored## or ##looked down$ upon## African culture and makes a realistic depiction with each episode. %ne such prominent event is the wrestling match that occurs on the second day of the new yam feast. &he wrestling match cannot be studied in isolation like 'ust a custom but rather we can use it(like other parts of the novel) to see various aspects of !gbo society such as its focus on it has significant connotations of masculinity* its culture and its social hierarchiesy that prevail in the !gbo society.+ood. ,irst and foremost* the event as mentioned above is part of the new yam festival. &his festival is sacred to the !gbo community as it celebrates the crop harvest. -veryone takes part in the feast and it is an occasion of getting together and decorating houses. %ne it forms a part of culture and tradition in the !gbo society* two it takes us to Achebes cultural politicsdynamics. Achebe describes the event in elaborate detail. !n fact* one can say that the first part of the novel Achebe tells us almost everything about the .moufian society* traditions* beliefs* culture and so on. /e aims to give the readers a clear and realistic picture. Achebe as a post colonial writer does not give a glorified picture but 'ust enough to give a realistic portrait that does not make Africans look like sub humans or savages as the -uropeans saw them. &heir customs are customs simply and not to be viewed as barbaric or primitive. &hey are not inferior but 'ust have to be viewed as another culture with their own customs which may be entirely different from the westernized but not inhuman.good %f course the depiction of the match does nothing to the actual plot as such but it certainly is symbolic of many aspects of the !gbo culture. !t is the sense of uniqueness that comes out of this wrestling event but rather how it is perceived in this society becomes the point of discussion* All the people from the nine villages in .moufia gather and view the match* both men and women. &he match is held on the common green* !0% no caps needed. &hus the match within the new yam festival becomes a place for community bonding. !t is like in the -uropean novels* they

depict common places like theatres* community grounds for open meetings and discussions* a parallel could be drawn here too with the common greens and people bonding with each other. %ne such e"ample is how Cheilo and -kwefi bond with each other. &he event then serves a place for recreation and culture is celebrated. &he spectacle is watched with a sense of pride and praise by the people. &he event though does not further the plot anyway but here Chielo is introduceds who is the priestess of Agabala who prophecies when the spirit of god is upon her. /ere Achebe takes us to the world of igbo metaphysics* folklore* oral culture and belief that !gbo community effaced for instance about Chielo* effaced what$ and the earth goddess ani. &he match then becomes an aspect of the folk culture. &his could be illustrated by using the point by Claude 0evi 1trauss that how past* present are 'oined in myth because nothing has been going on since the appearance of ancestors e"cept events whose recurrence periodically effaces their particularity. -very wrestling match thus becomes this initial repetition of the original fight between man and nature or further it could be the fight of every man with his ##chi#.# 2here is this from$ 1pecify your sources,urther this technique of storytelling* folktales strengthens the strategy of language and style that Achebe has employed. Abd l !an M"hamed has commented on this saying that the novel is a ##consonant with oral culture that he (Achebe) represents...## it is able to capture the falvor of oral tradition that !gbo people religiously believed in and asserted upon. &hen it asserts cultural values and subverts the western novelistic forms. IN a passage where he offers a commentary on the wrestling match between !kezue and %kafo* without any sense of irony* he proceeds to suggest that Achebes description is true to life* remarking that3 A scene like this e"presses perfectly the strength and cohesion of tribal 0ife. Anyone who has witnessed such a match* or any genuine tribal Ceremony involving a large crowd* will have e"perienced the intense Cumulative e"citement of the hour* followed by a sensation of complete -motional e"haustion as the clima" passes. &herefore* realism is not simply a property of the te"t4 it is also a matter of the te"ts effect on real readers in the real world. &hus* the Aristotelian notion of 5probability is hereby replaced with the idea of 5affective actuality* with the critics own individual emotional e"perience of the te"t as the touchstone of its 5mimetic authenticity . ( #erald M""re$ %e&en Afri'an (riters ) "ted in *a&id (hittaker and Mpali&e-+angs"n Msiska,. /e mentions various folktales* myth and traditions which make it appear like a primitive society but still Achebe goes to show a pre-colonial africa.pre-colonial Africa was a primitive society /e retains the folk culture* proverbs and !gbo words to stress on this deliberate attempt that how tough is to depict African culture in -nglish. Another critic -en .b nsel praises Achebes handling of the of the -nglish language while also drawing on igerias old traditions- 55such an e"periment requires both imagination and originality.## &he first part of the book not only tells about the culture of .moufians but also that the society is overtly patriarchal. 6en and women have clearly defined roles and social positions. &he igbo community wanes for men to be strong and powerful because for them it becomes the most necessary criterion for constructing identity and place. &he ones who are weak are looked upon. An e"ample of this is .noka and we see then how %konwo doesnt wantnot wanting to be like

his father works hard and earns a position in the society and his family. !t is mentioned in the first chapter how he defeated Amazaline * &he Cat in the wrestling match. &he men like okonkwo are shown to be powerful and war like. 7atriarchy is manifested at all levels and assertion of this power over women also is necessary. An instance of this could be when we see okonkwo beating his second wife 'ust before the match occurs. Another practices like farming* showing fierce temper* polygamy* working hard become showcase of male physical power while women are adhered to activities like taking care of family* assisting on the farm which is considered secondary. !t can also be inferred that 8yam9 in the !gbo community stood for man power8:am stood for manliness and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed.( TFA, CHAPTER 4) /ence the new yam feast becomes an event that celebrates masculinity and thus the wrestling match where the most e"citing moment is ##when a man is thrown##. &he incidents of wrestling are mentioned and repeated* in the first chapter and then in the si"th chapter in con'unction with showcase of masculinity showing how much importance is given to the same. Critic Ada A/"d" writes on this saying that a sense of duty and honor is attached with the male and thus the ##!gbo men are constrained to achieve and flaunt (male authority) in order to be seen and respected##. &hus in the novel we see how from the very start %konkwo strives to forge an image of a real man against the image of #agabala#. 2hile watching the match amongst the young boys* okonkwo goes through a sense of nostalgia of how he emerged as a strong man in the clan. !t is also informed that women en'oy the wrestling matches. %konkwo#s second wife -kwefi had gone fond of him after seeing him in the wrestling. 2omen too confer the patriarchal norms that the !gbo society in this way. &hey see men who could showcase their masculinity and physical agility as desirable. !t could be said that men achieve a status amongst the clan because of their wrestling prowess. &he wrestling match is reflective of the male traits and specifically that of okonkwo. &he first part of the narrative is essentially long so that it gives us all information about the protagonist * what culture has produced him to be and the ultimate tragedy of his suicide( *a&id (hittaker Mpali&e +angs"n Msiska). /e is shown to be a man of action* valor and hard work. &he wrestling contributes to this image in the first place which makes %konkwo earn respect and stature of ##-gwugwu##. &he greatness with he is pictured 'ust like the greatness of %thello becomes the background of his fall and ultimate tragedy. %thello* how powerful he is described but when he falls upon iago#s conniving ends up killing his beloved ;esdemona. %konkwo#s temper and physical agility meets with a similar tragedy with which his clan disowns him completely. &hus Achebe through the depiction of wrestling match in the novel gives us insight towards the culture of umoufia and its nature of the society. !t opens windows to many other issues like masculinity* folk culture* the narrative build up for the protagonist and language dynamics that Achebe uses to claim an identity. :ou still need to work on structure and language* but this is much better. +ood.