Missionaries in Things Fall Apart

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 547 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 547|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Arrival of the Missionaries
  2. Impact on Traditional Beliefs and Practices
  3. Impact on Individual Lives
  4. Broader Implications
  5. Conclusion

Through the character of Okonkwo, Achebe explores the clash between Western culture and traditional African values, and the consequences of this collision on individuals and communities. This essay will examine the role of missionaries in Things Fall Apart, and their influence on the Igbo society, as well as the broader implications of their presence in the novel.

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The Arrival of the Missionaries

One of the pivotal moments in the novel is the arrival of the Christian missionaries in Umuofia, Okonkwo’s village. The missionaries bring with them a new religion, education, and a different way of life that challenges the traditional beliefs and practices of the Igbo people. Their arrival marks the beginning of a profound transformation in the social and cultural fabric of the community, as well as the individual lives of its members.

Impact on Traditional Beliefs and Practices

The missionaries’ presence in Umuofia leads to a gradual erosion of the traditional Igbo religious and social structures. The conversion of some villagers to Christianity creates a division within the community, as those who adhere to the new faith are seen as betraying their ancestral traditions. This rift causes tension and conflict, ultimately leading to a breakdown of the social cohesion that had previously defined the village.

Furthermore, the missionaries’ teachings directly challenge the Igbo way of life, condemning practices such as polygamy, the worship of multiple gods, and traditional ceremonies and rituals. This creates a crisis of identity for many individuals, as they are forced to choose between embracing the new religion and abandoning their heritage, or remaining steadfast in their traditional beliefs and facing ostracism from the changing community.

Impact on Individual Lives

Okonkwo’s own experience with the missionaries illustrates the profound impact of their presence on individual lives. As a proud and powerful warrior, Okonkwo is deeply rooted in the traditional values of his society. However, the arrival of the missionaries challenges his beliefs and undermines his authority, leading to a crisis of identity and purpose. Ultimately, Okonkwo’s inability to adapt to the changing social landscape leads to his tragic downfall, highlighting the personal toll of the missionaries’ influence on individuals.

Broader Implications

Beyond the immediate impact on the Igbo society, the missionaries in Things Fall Apart represent the broader forces of colonialism and imperialism that were reshaping the African continent during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By introducing Western religion and education, the missionaries serve as agents of cultural and ideological imperialism, seeking to impose their values and beliefs on indigenous communities. This larger historical context adds depth and significance to the portrayal of the missionaries in the novel, highlighting their role in the wider narrative of colonial expansion and its impact on African societies.

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In conclusion, the missionaries in Things Fall Apart play a central and complex role in the novel, shaping the dynamics of the Igbo society and its individual members. Their arrival heralds a period of profound change and conflict, as traditional beliefs are challenged and the social fabric of the community is disrupted. Through their portrayal, Achebe provides a nuanced exploration of the impact of colonial forces on African societies, and the enduring struggle for cultural autonomy and identity in the face of external influence.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Missionaries in Things Fall Apart. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Missionaries in Things Fall Apart.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024,
Missionaries in Things Fall Apart. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Missionaries in Things Fall Apart [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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