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Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It throbbed in the air, in the sunshine, and even in the trees, and filled the village with excitement” (44).Any time Achebe mentions the sound of the drums, Umuofian society is functioning properly.
The clash of cultures is undoubtedly one of the most universal themes seen in literature. and China are one example; the Palestinians and Israelis are another—continue their struggles to reconcile dissimilar beliefs through negotiation, and in some cases, armed conflict.
This cultural clash can be seen throughout life and history anytime two groups of people hold differing views that cannot coexist. Similarly, the European missionaries and the native Umuofians struggle to coexist peacefully.
Every clansman knew his place and purpose in life; the tribe worked together, functioning as a single unit. However, the constant repetition of the drum imagery before the European missionaries arrive stands in stark contrast to the lack of drums throughout the latter half of the novel.
Indeed, the drums seemed to have Umuofia under a spell. After the Christian missionaries arrive in Umuofia, they immediately begin to evangelize the locals.
“Old men nodded to the beat of the drums and remembered . One method they used to captivate the tribesmen was to sing hymns. It was one of those gay and rollicking tunes of evangelism which had the power of plucking at silent and dusty chords in the heart of an Ibo man” (146). Achebe uses imagery of the “silent” and “dusty” Umuofian man’s heart being quenched by the Christian music to demonstrate the European point-of-view.
No doubt, the missionaries believed that they were bringing salvation (water) to a savage people (living in the desert).But over time, the missionaries became increasingly aggressive—even hostile—to the native Umuofian beliefs and culture.Slowly, the Europeans erode the native beliefs and come to dominate the native society.As the Europeans gained influence and political clout in the Umuofian government, Okonkwo saw his own power and influence at risk.When the Europeans finally succeed in taking control of the government, then Okonkwo—like a fire without any fuel—dies, a victim of his own nature.In order to sculpt a literary monument to the human condition and these universal themes, the author, Achebe, employs a broad variety of literary tools.Literary devices play a crucial role in enhancing the novel’s main themes and earning its widespread acceptance as a quality piece of literature.For instance, Okonkwo chastised and beat his son, Nwoye, for merely listening to his mother’s stories.He beat Nwoye again when he discovered him helping women with their household tasks.Like a fire, Okonkwo is violent, and burns whatever he touches. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo nags on his wives and son, beats his family, and kills three innocent people—not to mention himself, as well.In many cases, he hurts his family for trivial reasons.