Elements Contributing to the Success of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (2)
There are a number of legends found in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The first legend is about how the darkness of the night hides much evilness beneath it. Everybody fears it, and the children are warned not to do something taboo in the night to avoid the evil spirit. As it is found in the following quotation:
The night was very quiet. It always quiet except the moonlight nights. Darkness held a vague terror for these people, even the bravest among them. Children were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits. Dangerous animal became even more sinister and uncanny in the dark. A snake never called by its name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string.
(Achebe, 1958: 7)
From the quotation above, it is known that the Umuofia’s people fear the darkness because they believe that there is much evilness beneath the darkness of the night. The interesting fact is that they never call a snake with its name because snake symbolizes the power of evilness.
Another legend found in the novel is shown in the quotation below:
In this way the moons and the seasons passed. And then the locusts came. It had not happened for many a long year. The elders said locusts came once in a generation, reappeared every year for seven years and then disappear for another lifetime. They went back to their caves in a distant land, where they were guarded by a race of stunted men. And then after another lifetime these men opened the caves again and then locusts came to Umuofia.
(Achebe, 1958: 38)
From the quotation above it is known that the locust’s visit has become a legend in Umuofia. Their visit after many years is believed that they are freed from their cave by a race of stunted men. This belief has taken place in the Umuofia’s people’s mind from their ancestors to their generation.
Other illustration about the legend in the novel can be found when Ikemefuna is taken to the jungle to be murdered, but pitifully, he does not know it. In the middle of the journey, he sings a song that reminds him to his homeland.
Eze elina, elina!
Eze ilikwa ya
Ikwaba akwa oligholi
Ebe Danda nechi eze
Ebe Uzuzu nete egwu
He sang it in his mind, and walked to its beat. If the song ended on his right foot, his mother was alive. If it ended on his left, she was dead. No, not dead, but ill. It ended on the right. She was alive and well he sang the song again, and it ended on the left. But the second time did not count.
(Achebe, 1958: 42)
From the quotation above, it is indicated that the song is full of tradition. In the tradition of Ikemefuna’s clan, Mbaino, they used to sing this song when they are far away from home and neglected by their family. The song is believed as a media to find out about the news of their mothers in the homeland.
Another legend found in the novel can be seen in the story about mosquito and ear. It exposes the reason why mosquito always goes for one’s ear. Okonkwo used to hear the story when he was a child from his mother, as in the following quotation:
When he was a child his mother had told him a story about it. But it was silly as all women’s stories. Mosquito, she had said, had asked ear marry him, whereupon Ear fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. How much longer do you think you will live? She asked. ‘You are already a skeleton.’ Mosquito went away humiliated, and any time he passed her way he told ear that he was still alive.
(Achebe, 1958: 53)
From the quotation above, it is found that the story of the mosquito and the ear has become a legendary. And the reason why mosquito always goes for one’s ear is always acceptable and believable in Umuofia since it has been told from generation to generation, from mothers to children in Umuofia all the time.