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Chapter 11 Things Fall Apart

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In many cultures, the act of storytelling is extremely important. Not only are stories a source of entertainment, but many stories have hidden themes and lessons that are important in teaching morals and values. In Umuofia, a fictional place in Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, storytelling is very important in their culture. In Chapter 11, Okonkwo's wife Ekwefi tells a classic folk story about a tortoise and birds. This story is important because not only does it teach honesty and that greed is bad, but the story serves as foreshadowing for the reader. The tortoise can represent the Europeans and their colonization and the birds can represent the African people and how easily they are deceived.

The story of the tortoise and the birds is one told in many cultures with many different variations. In the version done by the Igbo, all the birds are invited to the sky to a feast in the sky and Tortoise see's and becomes envious so he devises a scheme to get to the feast in the sky. The birds at first stand up against Tortoise, telling him they know about how cunning and mischievous he is but he says he is a changed man and the birds agree and each give him a feather with which he creates two wings. When the day of the feast came the birds and Tortoise fly up to the feast. On the way, Tortoise tells the birds they all need names, and that his is "All of you" so when the birds arrive at the party and all the food had been set out Tortoise asked the man who he had prepared the feast for, and the man replied "For all of you." Tortoise tells the birds that according to custom, they must wait until he has eaten and then they will get their meal as well. The birds were angry, so they each took back the feather that Tortoise had lent them, leaving Tortoise with no way to return back home. Tortoise begs the birds to take a message to his wife so she can create a cushion for when he jumps out of the sky, but they all refuse except for Parrot who agrees. When Parrot reaches Tortoise's house however, he tells her to bring out all the hard things in the house. Tortoise see's that his wife is bringing stuff outside and falls. His shell broke into pieces, but the medicine man glued all the pieces back together. This is why the Tortoise's shell is not smooth. The morale of the lesson in the Igbo culture is not to be greedy and to be honest. However, in the scheme of the book, it is also a sign of foreshadowing.

In the story, the tortoise is very cunning and deceives the birds. This is foreshadowing to the European colonization that begins later in the novel. The European people come in and begin imposing their religion and ways of life on the people of Umuofia with little opposition because the people of Umuofia were caught off guard and gave trust to the Europeans. The story suggest that through a united front the people of Umuofia could overthrow the European people, but in reality that



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