Setting is extremely important to a character as it not only affects their daily lives but is integrated into their decisions. By using the novel Things Fall Apart as an example, one could analyze the importance of setting in a text.
The setting of Things Fall Apart is extremely important to the text as it affects both the life and decisions of Okonkwo through his family history and personal struggles as a farmer. The physical setting of villages and forests play a huge role throughout the novel as the Umuofia clan base their religion elaborately on the natural environment. The Evil Forest, which is described as being both dense and dark, is feared and respected and largely implemented in their burial rituals as mentioned in the following quote, “He was carried to the Evil Forest and left there to die” (Chapter 3), when a person dies of a ‘sinful’ disease, they are taken to the Evil Forest to die. This affects Okonkwo as his father was taken to the forest to die of a stomach disease which brought shame upon Okonkwo and drove him to work harder and become harsher in order to escape his past. The earth is also seen as a goddess to be feared in the eyes of the villagers as they rely on it solely for the produce of land which can be subjected to flooding and drought, resulting in no crops.
The future of the villagers, as well as Okonkwo, is decided by the fluctuation of nature. In the novel, it is stated that floods and droughts damaged the first set of yams Okonkwo managed to grow independently, “He changed them every day, and prayed that the rain might fall in the night. But the drought continued for eight market weeks and the yams were killed…” (Chapter 3). The fact that the flooding and droughts killed the yams resulted in Okonkwo being motivated to work harder and become harsher as a person in his life. The setting of the story contributed to the amount of dedication and brutality that encompass the actions Okonkwo makes.
By Salma Abdelsalam