Truth Determined by Stories
Things Fall Apart focuses on the demise of the novels protagonist, Okonkwo while also showing the Igbo culture appearing to fall apart but I believe the underlying theme is the inability of the Igbo people to accept change and diversity thus breaking tradition. Uchendu, Okonkwo’s uncle, explains that “‘there is no story that is not true… The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others'”(141). Uchendu understands that there are so many other people and cultures in the world and that no culture is wrong, but rather each culture believes in different truths.
Uchendu brings light to the conflict between the Igbo and the Christian missionaries. Okonkwo and many other villagers write off the missionaries as crazy at first because of their belief that there is one God that controls everything. This belief comes from the Genesis stories in the Bible. The Christian missionaries try to tell the villagers that their belief in multiple Gods, each with their own dominion, is wrong. The villagers belief also comes from stories that are shared through oral tradition and passed down generation to generation. If all stories are true then how can either of these belief systems be wrong? Stories explain aspects of culture like religion but they also guide the way people act and what they believe. Therefore truth is created through the stories that define a culture. If that culture adopts new stories, it does not fall apart but rather what is considered true changes and creates a new reality.
Okonkwo finds it difficult to accept other cultures and a new reality in which the Christians live among the Igbo people. He fears losing his religion and the important cultural traditions that shaped his life. However his son, Nwoye, finds comfort in the new stories of the Christian missionaries because he did not agree with the stories of the Igbo people involving the Evil Forests (i.e. twins must be thrown away in the forests because they are abomination). He found truth in the Christian stories and was able to break tradition to create his own reality, something that Onkonkwo is unable to do which causes him much despair.