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Things Fall Together: Mini Lesson

"Things Fall Apart" through the lens of New Criticism.

Tina Wang

on 6 May 2013

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Transcript of Things Fall Together: Mini Lesson

Through the Lens of New Criticism By: Amber, Courtney, Eleni, Tina Thesis: In his novel "Things Fall Apart", Achebe uses various religious characters as symbols of conflicting faiths: the Oracle of the Hills and Caves is a symbol of the Igbo religion while Mr. Brown and Reverend James Smith symbolize Christianity. Introduction Please turn to "Things Fall Apart" pages 102 - 104 to follow along. Re-enactment Things Fall Apart -Using the priestess of the god Agbala
-Everyone in the village comes to consult it about their future/visit the spirit of their ancestors
-Greatly feared and revered by the villagers The Oracle - Messenger of an Igbo god 1. -Its word is the people's command
-Nobody dares to defy it The Oracle is the word Evidence "The Oracle was called Agbala, and people come from far and near to consult it...[t]hey came to discover what the future held for them or to consult the spirits of their departed fathers...[n]o one had ever beheld Agbala, except his priestess. But no one...had come out without the fear of his power." (Achebe, 12) >>shows that to the people the Oracle represents their greatly feared god Agbala; they listen to its every word. Nobody dared to defy the will of the Oracle when it pronounced that Ikemefuna should be killed.
Many people didn’t want to see him die (especially Okonkwo, he grew rather fond of Ikemefuna).
The people (including Okonkwo) still carried out its orders and killed him. Evidence "Yes, Umuofia has decided to kill him. The Oracle of the Hills and the Caves has pronounced it. They will take him outside and kill him there." (Achebe, 40)

"As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his matchet, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, 'My father, they have killed me!' as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his matchet and cut him down." (Achebe, 43) >>They take the word of the Oracle spread by their god Agbala seriously
>>symbolizes their religion 2. -Mr. Brown (the former missionary) led the spreading of the gospel and built the church in Mbanta

-respected by great men of the clan, who associate him with the head of his church

-his successor Reverend James Smith continued his lead, whom the masked/ancestral spirits of the village treat as the new church head The White Missionaries 3. Evidence Mr. Brown had a discussion with one of the great men of the village - Akunna - about each other's religion. Akunna referred to Mr. Brown as the "head of his church".

The clan treat Mr. Smith as the new leader after Mr. Brown had gone.
As spoken by Ajofia, the head of the ancestral spirits, during the confrontation of the two religions after Enoch (a recruit) broke the law by "defacing" an ancestral spirit. "...It is like yourself. You're the head of your church." (Achebe, 127) >>therefore to the people he respresents the leader of his religion, thus representing Christianity. "Tell him to go back to his house and leave us alone. We liked his brother who was with us before...and for his sake we shall not harm his brother...[o]ur anger is great but we have held it down so that we can talk to you." (Achebe, 134) >>shows that the leaders of the clan view Mr.Smith as the new representative of the church - they address their complaints of the church to him

>>Thus Mr. Smith symbolizes Christianity Activity: Why did "Things Fall Apart"? ANSWERS! Activity: Contradicting Beliefs?
Christianity vs. Igbo Religion Using only "Things Fall Apart"
pages 126-128... DEBATE! The end.
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