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Chapter 1

posted Oct 18, 2011 19:12:33 by zraymond@hinghamschools.com
Achebe utilizes plot digressions throughout Things Fall Apart. For example, Achebe starts the novel with a description of a wrestling match, which occurred 20 years ago. Why does Achebe start the novel this way? Identify one other digression and reflect on how it affects our understanding of the plot.
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CADYL01 said Oct 23, 2011 15:26:10
Achebe uses plot digression to describe a wrestling match that occurred 20 years ago. By starting the novel this way, Achebe characterizes Okonkwo and illustrates characteristics of Ibo society. Achebe characterizes Okonkwo by explaining, Okonkwo "brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat" (3). This feat depicts Okonkwo as a powerful, respected and fierce man who has power over other village members and dominates physically. Achebe then goes on to explain, "Okonkwo's fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan" (3). A bush-fire would spread quickly over the dry land when the wind blew, just as Okonkwo's fame spread across the villages. Additionally, Achebe's plot digression exemplifies the the masculinity of the society. Okonkwo is honored for throwing a man in a wrestling match, while his father's peaceful love of music is disrespected. Achebe's description illustrates the importance of masculine actions in Ibo society.
Achebe uses plot digressions throughout the novel. Another example of plot digression is his description of Unoka's earlier life. This digression demonstrates the complexity of Unoka's character. By illustrating the extent of Unoka's talents, such as flute playing, Achebe makes it clear that Unoka is not lazy as Okonkwo believes. At one point, Unoka was so good at playing flute, that "sometimes another village would ask Unoka's band and their dancing egwugwa to come and stay with them and teach them their tunes" (4). Unlike Okonkwo's views of his father, Unoka has achieved great things, but Ibo society does not value his peaceful music as much as Okonkwu's fierceness.
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