How the Centre Cannot Hold in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Objectification and Alienation of Children.



This article examines objectification and alienation of children in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The Ibo culture portrayed in the novel does not treat children as human beings but as the property of the father and the community. The community exercises absolute powers over children. They have no voice within the family and community. As children, Ikemefuna and a young virgin girl suffer deracination in order for their village, Mbaino, to avoid war and bloodshed against Umuofia after the former killed a daughter of Umuofia. Children born twins are sacrificed because they are considered an abomination on the land; and Nwoye is subjected to corporal punishment by his father because he wants to mould the child into a culturally acceptable man in future. Although Achebe attempts to portray the Umuofia community as an organic whole prior to the entry of European colonialism, the Ibo culture’s objectification and alienation of children, categorization and consequent discrimination between its members undermined the harmony and cohesion of the society. Nwoye, and mothers of twins whose children were sacrificed never embraced the Ibo culture that promoted various crimes against children. Their desertion of the Ibo culture to join Christianity shows that they were not fully incorporated into clan life. In this article, I argue that the harmony and cohesion of the pre-colonial Ibo society that Achebe attempts to depict in Things Fall Apart is highly illusory.

Key words: child sacrifice, corporal punishment, deracination, objectification

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