Jennifer Moua November 10, 2011 Period 2 Things Fall Apart and the Second Coming Chinua Achebe based his story, “Things Fall Apart,” on the poem by William Butler Yeats called “The Second Coming. ” These two pieces of literature have many similarities despite being two completely different pieces of literature. It is clearly shown that both authors wanted to illustrate great change between an old era to a new era with the changes taking place. Achebe begins his book with an excerpt to the beginning of the poem: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” (Yeats, lines 1-4). Although Achebe begins with this excerpt, the phrase “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” (Achebe, 3) is in direct correlation to Yeat’s poem of drastic change. Achebe describes the situation of the Igbo culture through these lines of the poem in which Yeats describes his own condition of the world. In the quote “things fall apart”, it is referenced by Achebe to foreshadow events that are to occur in the novel in which leads the protagonist Okonkwo to his greatest downfall as well as his death.
Additionally, he hints at the chaos that arises when a system collapses to the new changes that take place upon the Igbo culture. In Mbanta and Umuofia children played an even larger role as they were the future and centre therefore, as “things [fell] apart”, “the centre cannot hold” together. The clans depended on the sons to continue their ways as they grew older and stronger. Once the younger people began to convert, it paved the way for others to join and for the church to get stronger. The falcon cannot hear the falconer” (Yeats, line 2). The quote represents the growing gap between the young generation and the old, traditional generations. Achebe incorporates a similar interpretation of the quote as he describes the situation of the younger members of Mbanta village that showed interest in Christianity and were the first to convert. The youth did not have the same level of appreciation for tradition as their elders and as a result were more accepting to the new idea.
As the younger members of the tribe were converting, they were becoming wary of the Igbo culture despite protests and resistance from the elders. The falcon refers to as the young members and the falconer as the elders in which connects both the novel and the poem together. Moreover, in the novel, Achebe hints, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” (Yeats, lines 7-8) this also displays the weariness and acceptance of the new religion.
The best, tribe members that held titles, were looming the idea of Christianity while the worst, the outcasts and cursed, were dedicated and passionate. The more the church gained conversions from the Igbo culture, the stronger it grew day by day. Yeats refers to the best as the good while the worst are the zealots that will rise. In conclusion, the poem and novel, though set in entirely different locations at different times, are the same story.
The plot lines separate and come back together but they share the same general ideas and similar effects on the reader. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe puts the metaphors and imagery from “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats into action. [Word Count: 566] Works Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Print. Yeats, William B. The Second Coming. PotW. org – Poem of the Week. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. <http://www. potw. org/archive/potw351. html>.