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Is "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe anti-Christian?

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I had never heard of this book, and it is included in History Odyssey Modern 2.  It seems like it may be a bit intense for even a mature 6th/7th grader like my son.  Does it have an anti-Christian slant?

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Things Fall Apart offers an African perspective on colonialism which includes the clash of traditional religion with Christianity. That this clash occurred cannot be denied.

 

Is the novel anti-Christian? I believe Achebe was Christian*.

 

The novel is perhaps better suited to high school students though. I would not have assigned it to my 6th or 7th grader.

 

*Maybe not. His parents were Christian and he was raised in a Christian environment. Whether he called himself Christian is something I do not know.

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I taught it to my 8th grade honors class when I was teaching.  It was my choice, so I definitely think it can be done for middle school.  It's a tough novel in some ways - the reading level isn't so high, but the perspective is really different from what students coming from reading lots of Western lit may be used to.  There's a lot of worthy discussion in there.  I'm not sure how to address the idea that it's "anti-Christian."  The Christians in the book don't come off well at all.  But early Christian missionaries in Africa weren't great Christians in my view, so I don't personally see it as an indictment of Christianity - more an indictment of mission work being a front for imperialism and violence.  I don't think any of the basic ideas of Christianity are really attacked and at this age it would be fine to say that not all Christians throughout history have done a very good job spreading the word.

 

If you wanted to sub a book and it just needs to be about Africa, The Dark Child and So Long a Letter are two that can be accessible to middle schoolers as well, though both are "adult" books - but both are also post-colonial so the history covered will be different from Things Fall Apart.  Or you could look at something by Beverly Naidoo, who has several great books about South Africa for upper elementary and middle school.  Or The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer is a good book about Africa.  But neither Naidoo or Farmer are black Africans, it's important to note.

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I don't think it is anti-Christian.  My daughter had a hard time with this book because the perspective was so different from anything she had read before, and she had a hard time identifying with the characters.  But I think it was really good for her to read just for that reason, it forced her to stretch herself.  I think it is better for high school than middle school though, she read it in 10th grade.

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I don't think the book is anti Christian. Like others have said, it offers the perspective of a nigerian man about colonialism. It is a big mature though so I wouldn't touch it till high school but ymmv.

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One of my favorite books! Yeah, the Christians don't come off so well, but it's not anti-Christian, per se. It's anti-colonialism, and Christianity was widely used to spread colonialism, so it does come in for criticism for being a vehicle for colonialism.

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I did not read that particular book, but I wanted to share that I purchased that curriculum (HO Modern level 2) last summer to use with my 6th grader. After going through the many resourses, I found that it is definately geared more toward 8th grade or higher. We used level one and just beefed it up a bit. Im saving level 2 for my son, who will return to that time period in 8th.

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I just read it last week before giving it to dd15 for her literature course. It is frequently combined with Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The theme is definately anti colonialism but the Christian's behavior in this book was disturbing. So much so that I had a long talk with another Christian friend to work out my feelings. The arrogance of the missionaries was shocking.imo The parts about the Christians is told from the African perspective and is more descriptive of the effect their actions were having on the main character's life. It is a disturbing book but actually I loved it and am waiting for the rest of the trilogy to arrive. Dd is just starting it so no reactions from her yet. Would I assign it to ds13 at this time? Probably not, but not part of his curriculum right now. I would allow him to read it if he wanted to.

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Things Fall Apart is a fantastic book that will most likely be far outside your student's worldview. For this reason alone I think it's definitely worth a read, whether you do it now or wait till high school.

 

As far as anti-Christian, I guess it depends on whether you need all representations of Christians to be positive or whether you can accept that Christian missionaries and imperialists were often Not Nice People.

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It was one of my literature textbook in school for 9th grade. It is not anti-Christian. It just presents things as it is from an African point of view and it is up to the reader to ponder. I did that book concurrently with Macbeth and Oedipus Rex so they were all very thought provoking literature text.

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Things Fall Apart offers an African perspective on colonialism which includes the clash of traditional religion with Christianity. That this clash occurred cannot be denied.

 

Is the novel anti-Christian? I believe Achebe was Christian*.

 

The novel is perhaps better suited to high school students though. I would not have assigned it to my 6th or 7th grader.

 

*Maybe not. His parents were Christian and he was raised in a Christian environment. Whether he called himself Christian is something I do not know.

but also take into account Christians differ all over the world.  The main reason being is culture

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I'm not sure because I didn't get around to reading more than a couple chapters of it. DD started it last year in 8th and hated it. There was a scene with a killing of a young person, and it really upset her. So we dropped it. There's plenty else to read.

 

For 6th-7th grade, you might also check out the HO Level 1 Modern booklist if you have not done that one. The Level 2 has some pretty hefty books on it, many of which could be saved for high school, especially for 6th-7th. The Level 1 booklist might have some books on the easier side, level-wise, but they aren't babyish, and there are some really good stories in that list with some complex emotional/moral issues. My son thought Number the Stars and The Breadwinner were both quite good in 5th grade.

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