Chinua Achebe is a renowned Nigerian poet and novelist who wrote the classic novel, Things Fall Apart. Within his work, Achebe includes several traditional proverbs from the Igbo people to add depth to the characters and story line. Two of these traditional proverbs are “A man who brings home a lion has no need for mice” and “When mother-cow is contented her milk flows freely”.
Choose two proverbs in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and explain the context of the proverb.
The first proverb, “A man who brings home a lion has no need for mice” comes at an important point in the novel when Okonkwo makes it clear that he will not follow tradition even if it goes against his own beliefs. In this case, Okonkwo refuses to sacrifice one of his sons when asked by the Oracle of Umuofia despite it being customary in their society. To emphasize his stance on this matter, Achebe uses this proverb to demonstrate that once you make your decision there should be no wavering or second thoughts about it; like bringing a lion into your home would mean you would have no use for mice anymore because they cannot compete with such power and strength.
The second proverb, “When mother-cow is contented her milk flows freely” occurs when Okonkwo decides whether or not he should accept gifts offered by Obierika following his exile from Umuofia. Here Obierika adheres to both custom and law by offering gifts as compensation while also displaying sympathy towards Okonkwo’s situation. Although tempted by the offer of wealth that could help him start anew in Mbanta—the place where he was forced to relocate—Okonkwo declines due to pride which results in conflict between him and Obierika’s opinion on tradition versus lawfulness. Through this proverb Achebe conveys how some traditions must be followed even if they don’t agree with one’s personal thoughts or beliefs: just like how mothers give milk only when their cow is content since if not then it does not flow freely; similarly so people can benefit from their community only when all parties are united together under common values rather than divided through individual opinions on them.
In conclusion, Chinua Achebe utilizes two distinct proverbs within Things Fall Apart as means of showing different aspects within Igbo culture which prove very useful in understanding its complexity; although each may appear simple upon first glance but further inspection reveals much more beneath its surface regarding values held sacred among its people such as harmony between family relationships or respecting tradition despite disagreements over them beforehand