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Thanthong Chim-ong

English 12
Mr. Bishop
4th December 2018
Factors that Affect Personality in Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe’s books that criticize

and admire African couture and history. It is a novel about African’s people that encounter

European during the age of exploration when the rise of colonization happened in late1800s.

The novel explores Igbo culture, society, and religion through a fictional characters’

experience name Okonkwo and his family. Okonkwo is a wealthy and respects Igbo warrior

who lives in a Nigerian village call Umofia. This essay will discuss how Chinua Achebe

shapes characters using society, religion, and culture.

In Things Fall Apart, Achebe uses characters action to demonstrate an effect of

society on personality. The effect of society on the characters’ personality can be seen

throughout the novel since the novel is about the change of characters. According to the text,

“Okonkwo did not have the start in his life which many young men usually had. He did not

inherit a barn from his father” (pg.16). this implies that Okonkwo did not get what others get

from his father, cause him to feel disappointed in his father and think of him as a lazy and

unsuccessful man. This causes him to think that everything that likes or similar to his father

personality and action is an abomination to him. So, when he saw anyone that reminds him of

his father he will usually act toward that person with hate and anger. However, this also

becomes his motivation to work hard and give him his goal to become successful and

respected in his clan, unlike his father. Another example of how society effect personality is

from “What It Mean to ‘Be a Man’: How male Gender Stereotype Try to Fit Growing Boy

into a Mold, and Fail” by Samantha Olson. In this article, Olson writes “both failure and

success of trying to fit the mold of a male illusion can be linked to bullying, high male

suicide rate, and even sexism” (p.6). Leading to the supposition that norms and expectations

in society can cause personality to change because the sense of belongingness in human is a
Thanthong Chim-ong
English 12
Mr. Bishop
4th December 2018
phycological force that makes us want to be accept usually by someone similar or share a

common interest. This is why a group of friends or people we spend the most time with

reflect who we are.

Second factor that can shape a person’s personality is religion. In the novel, Achebe

uses characters’ actions to demonstrate the effect of religion on personality. An example of

this is a feeling of empathy and compassion express by Mr. Kiaga. He said “there is no slave

or free. We are all children of God and we must receive these our brothers” (pg. 156). It is

clear, therefore, that Mr. Kiaga’s personality is shaped by Christianity since he shows his

compassion then accept osu and twins even though some converters do not agree, still, he

wants to accept them because he strongly believes in Christianity. His belief is his motivation

to think of every human on this earth as children of God and everyone are sisters and brother

who deserve to be accepted by his church. Another evidence of the effect of religion on

personality is on page 152, Achebe writes “But he left hold of Nwoye, who walked away and

never returned. He went to the church and told Mr. Kiaga that he decided to go to Umoufia

where the white missionary had set up school to teach young Christians to read and write”.

The quote is a situation when Okonkwo was threatening to kill Nwoye if he did not answer

but Okonkwo’s uncle stops him. From the quote, we realize that Nwoye had enough of Igbo

religion because it does not give what he seeks. Nwoye is looking at the feeling of belonging

and be accepted by his family, especially from his father Okonkwo. Before the white men

come and bring Christianity, Nwoye is always been submissive to Okonkwo and do

everything he was asked for, but after Nwoye know Christianity he is completely changed,

even when Okonkwo threatening to kill him he still not answers. This show that because of

Christianity become his drive that helps him stand agents his father.

The last factor affect personality is culture. in Things Fall Apart, Achebe use of

characters’’ personality to demonstrate the effect of culture on personality. An example of

Thanthong Chim-ong
English 12
Mr. Bishop
4th December 2018
this can be found on page 59, the narrator state “if he was unable to rule his women and his

children he was not really a man.” The quote is describing how Igbo culture think a man

should be. The evidence of how this culture shape personality is Okonkwo. Throughout the

novel, Okonkwo always is the leader of his family and rule them with his anger and strength

because Okonkwo thinks if he cannot lead his own wives and children other men in Umofia

will not see him as a man and not respect him. The idea of a man in Igbo culture has a great

impact on Okonkwo’s personality. Moreover, another example of this can be found in the

book The Present and Probable Future Condition of the Three Races that Inhabit the Territory

of the United States by Alexis de Tocqueville chapter 62. The book is about how people from

different races live together in the United States. According to the text, “if he becomes free,

independence is often felt by him to be a heavier burden than slavery” (pg. 1). This implies

that the culture of being a slave can shape his personality to be slave for all their life. He will

never become truly free because he is unacquainted with freedom. This demonstrates a

culture forms the way people think and view the world which shape personality according to

the culture.

Thus, in Things Fall Apart, we can see that Okonkwo’s aggressive personality and his

hate of femaleness is shaped by his father and norm of the society. Therefore, Nwoye whose

personality is shaped by religion and family like Mr. Kiaga and Mr. Brown. In the novel,

Achebe demonstrates the change of personality caused by society, religion, and culture.

However, these three factors are not the only thing that builds our character. Additionally,

even the smallest event could be a great impact on our personality.

Thanthong Chim-ong
English 12
Mr. Bishop
4th December 2018

Chinua, A. (1959). Things Fall Apart. New York: Penguin Books


from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/DETOC/1_ch18.htm

Olson, S. (2015, March 23). Male Gender Stereotypes Are Ruining Boys' Futures. Retrieved
from https://www.medicaldaily.com/what-it-means-be-man-how-male-gender-