Things Fall Apart Chapter 17 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

In chapter 17 of Chinua Achebe's novel 'Things Fall Apart,' the story of Nwoye and his break from his father and conversion to Christianity is completed. Learn why Nwoye leaves his family and joins the Christian missionaries that have visited his village.

Summary of Chapter Seventeen

The Christian Church Comes to Mbaino

Nwoye's mother tells Obierika, Okonkwo's closest friend, why Nwoye has left home to join the Christians. After Nwoye's mother explains how the missionaries came to Mbaino and were generally laughed at by the villagers for their strange speech and religion, she continues to tell Obierika more about how the missionaries tried to spread their religion through the town.

The missionaries build a Christian church in the Evil Forest, and when they do not die, some of the villagers are convinced enough to convert to Christianity and join their church.
christian church

First, the missionaries ask to meet with the king of the village, which shows they do not understand the village culture. They're told that there is no king, but that the men of high social standing and many titles can meet with them instead. At the meeting, the missionaries ask for a place to build a church, and to get rid of them the men of the village give them a spot of land in the Evil Forest, the land where they leave things which they find an abomination to nature itself. They believe that the missionaries will die in the forest within four days.

However, once the missionaries clear a part of the forest and begin to build their church, they live well past four days. This causes some villagers to convert, believing the god of the missionaries to be powerful. Others believe that the glasses that the white men wear allow them to talk to the evil spirits that they believe live in the forest.

Nwoye's Conversion

Nwoye is one of the village people who is intrigued about the church. Mr. Kiaga, the head of the church, opens it and holds church services on Sundays. Nwoye wanders by and hears people singing hymns. As the days pass and the Christians do not die, they win more converts, including a woman named Nneka. She is the first woman to convert, and she does so because she is pregnant and previously had twins who were thrown away; she converts, it is implied, because the Christians will not force her to throw away her children if they are born as twins.

Pictured here are twin boys. The Christian church in Mbaino wins its first female convert, Nneka, because Nneka is pregnant and does not want to throw her twins away as is the religious custom of the villagers.

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