Chapter 15 of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a very significant part in the story. It is important in showing how much Okonkwo has changed since being exiled from his village and going to live in his motherland. We heard in the previous chapter of his first couple of days, but this chapter is set 2 years later when he has become accustomed to the very different atmosphere of the village of Mbanta. During this chapter is his first contact with Umuofia, his old village, which comes in the form of a visit from his good friend Obierika. It is through this visit that we first hear of the white missionaries.
This passage is clearly separated into three different sections. The first is before Obierika tells the story of Abame, the second occurs during the story telling, and the third is the reactions shown by the different characters to the story. These sections are very important, as they show us how Okonkwo has changed under the supervision of Uchendu, but also how he is still the same person inside with the same natural instincts and that he cannot change them no matter what the circumstances and how hard he tries. Before the story of Abame Okonkwo greets Obierika, who has been maintaining Okonkwos crop of yams, and had brought the many bags of cowries they had earned. Okonkwo greets him warmly; taking a share of the load for the final part of the journey to his obi, then takes him to see Uchendu. He describes Obierika to Uchendu as his great friend, and then Uchendu refers to Okonkwo as my son. This shows us change in Okonkwo, as, previously, his greetings were not warm, even to his friends, and he would not have been willing to show enough emotion to call someone his great friend, or receive such a comment from Uchendu. His acceptance of Uchendus calling him son is a very significant point in showing us that Okonkwo has changed, as it would almost certainly have previously provoked thoughts of his weak father, which plague him throughout the rest of the story. During the telling of the story Okonkwo begins to change and we see glimpses of the old him. He is inquisitive, listening intently to the story and making irregular suggestions. The fact that he did not interrupt the story, instead waited until Obierika had finished, and then until Uchendu has made his input, and then he shows his opinion shows us a side to Okonkwo that we didnt see when he was in Umuofia. On the other hand, when he does speak we see again the old Okonkwo. He says, They were fools. They had been warned that danger was ahead. They should have armed themselves with guns and matchets even when they went to market. Earlier in the story, Okonkwo had been a great warrior, and his answer to everything had been violence. From this quote we see that this side to his nature had notnot disappeared, but had been lying dormant inside him.Uchendu is quite an important character in the story, despite his relatively small part in the proceedings. The main point we should extract from this section of the story concerning him is the change that has occurred in the Igbo tribe throughout his lifetime. This is shown when he says how Obierikas father used to visit Mbanta regularly and had many friends there. He then goes on to say how people dont travel or visit other villages or places anymore. A good example of something he significant he says is, when speaking to both Okonkwo and Obierika, You stay at home, afraid of your next-door neighbor. Even a mans motherland is strange to him nowadays. This quote also helps to show us how much more fear has become a part of everyday life in the Igbo culture. This is extremely relevant later in the story, when we see how fear stops the villagers from taking action against the settlers.
The most important part this passage plays in the story is the introduction of the white missionaries. This is a major turning point in the story, as it is where things really begin to fall apart on a large scale, not just for Okonkwo. It is because of the missionaries that Okonkwo loses his son and his culture, and ends up taking his own life. The story tells us of one white man who turned up at Abame. The inhabitants consulted the Oracle who told them he would break their clan and spread destruction among them, and that more white men were following. This said, they killed the white man and tied his motorbike to a tree, referring to it as an iron horse, for fear of it running to tell the other white men. This helps to show us how primitive the Igbo culture is, and how they would be easily susceptible to more advanced ideas taking them in. this act also led to several of the white mans fellow missionaries coming to Abame and massacring the villagers leaving very few survivors. This shows us that the white men are far more powerful, but that they will not use violence unless provoked, giving us further clues about Okonkwos fate. This is a new idea to the Igbo people, as they usually sort out any quarrels they have through fighting of some sort. We can see by the missionaries relative success in this small conquest that many Igbo people would surely be happy to give up their old way of life, as it is obvious that it had become dated.
After Obierika has told the story of Abame we see Achebe introducing some dramatic irony through Obierika. He says, We have heard stories about white men who made the powerful guns and the strong drinks and took slaves away across the seas, but no-one thought the stories were true. This is ironic because we know that white people did enslave Africans using guns and took them overseas to places such as America, but they did not know this at the time, and considered these stories to only be myths.The language Achebe uses in this passage also helps to accentuate the naпvetй, primitivism and susceptibility of the Igbo people. Most of what is said is very basic, and they show very little real understanding of the situation of the problem in hand, basically skimming over a large and significant threat. The only technicality in language used is shown by Uchendu, who seems to grasp quite well, although, as knowledge was very closely linked with age in the Igbo culture, it tells us that those who were able to comprehend what could happen to the culture were too old to act upon their knowledge, adding to the sense of inevitability about the story. Okonkwo is someone who could possibly aid the situation by taking action against the invasion, but he, as shown by his language in this section, does not completely grasp the situation, which explains later why he has taken no action 5 years later. It is not just the language of the characters which is relevant in the passage, as we can see that the narrative has changed as well. Throughout the first part of the story the language used by Achebe was very unsympathetic to Okonkwo and we are led to think of him as a fool, but in this section it becomes less aggressive and less judgmental. There are no real examples of this in the passage, as it is more what isnt said which makes the difference is. In the first part, Okonkwos actions were usually followed by a negative comment on his language, and they appeared to have been exaggerated quite significantly, whereas here they are not.
Altogether this section is representative, in many ways, of the whole story. In the first section of the passage, as in the first section of the book, Okonkwo appears to be in complete control of himself for the main part, if in different ways, which changes in the second part. In the second part we can see that Okonkwos destiny is sealed, and that nothing he can do can change it, which is portrayed by Achebe to us in many different ways. In the third part we see Okonkwos decline. In the whole story it is his complete decline from what he began as, whereas in the passage it is a decline in the success of his efforts to change. Without this small passage the story would not run as smoothly, as we find out a lot in it, and it helps add to the effect given by most tragedies, the feel of inevitability.