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Chapters 2-3

posted Oct 18, 2011 19:21:00 by
Sharing of palm wine is seen when Okonkwo visits Nwakibie. Palm-wine is a naturally fermented product of the palm-wine tree, a sort of natural beer. Note how Achebe introduces—but does not fully explain--Ibo customs, rituals, and ceremonies in the novel. Why does Acheve do this, considering that he wrote for an international non-African audience as well as his own peoples?
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4 replies
KAT05 said Oct 23, 2011 16:15:23
Acheve does not elaborate on the customs of the Ibo, despite his foreigner readers, for he is trying to emphasize the lack of cultural understanding that existed between the European nations and the African nations. Neither one of the cultures, especially the Europeans, took the time and effort to educate themselves on the customs of the other nation. The only explanation that Acheve gave of the palm wine ceremony was "The first cup went to Okonkwo, who must taste his wine before anyone else...then the group drank, beginning with the eldest man" (19). Acheve's inadequate explanation highlights the lack of understanding between the conflicting cultures. Acheve also leaves the reader curious about the origin of the ceremony in his effort to depict the cultural barrier between the Africans and the Europeans.
GREGG05 said Oct 23, 2011 17:32:25
Achebe only introduces the customs of Ibo culture because he wants to emphasize the uniqueness of the tribe. If he went into further detail the audience might be confused or disgusted by this unique culture instead of being intrigued by it. Many of Achebe's international audience may not understand the reasons behind the actions of the tribe, but that is part of what Achebe wants to achieve in this book. He wants to portray the Ibo people as different people who have a culture that should not be changed. One examlple of the Ibo uniqueness is when Okonkwo "drank his palm-wine from his first human head" (10). Many people in present day society would be disgusted by this, but in Ibo culture it was portrayed as an honor rather than punishment. Okonkwo's actions in this case highlight how the uniqueness of the Ibo culture changed due to european interference.
NELLIE05 said Oct 23, 2011 21:12:28
Achebe does not put too much emphasis on the cultural elements of the tribe, yet he sufficiently introduces them. The reason behind this is Achebe does not want to lose his readers who are unfamiliar with the ways of the Ibo. However, his introduction of the different cultural elements associated with the tribe illustrates that a vast majority of people do not know they ways of traditional African tribes. In a more negative scenario, people, especially Europeans and "Westerners" tend to be close minded and unwilling to learn about different cultures because they are solely focused on forcing their culture upon foreign nations. By introducing the Ibo culture, Achebe introduces the real way of the Ibo people which contrast the well known "African stereotypes". For instance, "Okonkwo's prosperity was visible in his household. He had a large compound..."(14). The description of Okonkwo's compound makes obvious his fortune and honor that he holds in the village. This strongly contradicts the stereo type that Africans are not able to be wealthy. Without losing his readers, Achebe successfully introduces the culture of the Ibo people.
ETHAN05 said Oct 23, 2011 22:13:34
Achebe introduces parts of the Ibo culture but does not go into full detail about rituals and ceremonies. Following up on what gregg said, people might resent a full explanation of Ibo rituals and their culture without creating a kind of sympathy towards them first. Achebe needs to set up an attraction to the tribe before introducing all customs of the Ibo culture. Nwakibie is the rich man in town, and Okonkwo is afraid of falling into his father's footsteps, so he proposes to Nwakibie for some Yam seeds, the crop of real men. The ceremonies are unheard of in European nations, but are accustom to Ibo culture. Achebe is not trying to say that one way of life is better, but is indirectly highlighting how differences between people make everyone unique. Achebe introduces one ritual of having the men bring in their wives to drink from the horn, "She then went down on one knee, drank a little and handed back the horn. She rose, called him by his name and went back to her hut. The other wives drank in the same way and in their proper order, and went away."(20) Unseen in contemporary society, Ibo culture is portrayed as unique, and Achebe also begins to show the cruelty and unjust ways towards women.
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