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Change isn’t always for the best. Whether good or bad, changing means leaving something about you behind or facing obstacles to being the better you. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, the two novels experience many changes as Chinua Achebe demonstrates the struggle of Okonkwo between old traditions within the Igbo community as well as Christianity while Chris Cleave demonstrates exploits individuality that lies within a person, as the characters have a person vs. self and also a person vs. person conflict while pursuing their own identities. The plot of Things Fall Apart revolves mostly around Okonkwo and the Igbo society. Okonkwo, the tragic hero, falls from grace because of a tragic flaw, which in my perspective, is his stubbornness and arrogance. Achebe demonstrates Okonkwo’s struggle to accept change through the use of characterization. Characterization is used to demonstrate the tradition and values of Okonkwo to emphasize his tragic flaw. Okonkwo’s idea of masculinity is different from the clan. His idea of masculinity is to be nothing like his father, weak and feminine, a fear he was taught through the traditions of his society and so throughout the book he puts up a hard exterior. “And when she returned he beat her very heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess.”(4.17)Okonkwo commits a sin against the earth goddess during the Week of Peace. Even though beating your wife is commonly known as bad, according to this quote, beating your wife is bad only in the Week of Peace otherwise it would be fine which I thought was ironical since gods and goddesses usually advocate what is right and usually just but the earth goddess in this book does not seem to care about the domestic abuse. What seems more worse is that Okonkwo realizes it was the Week of Peace, but chooses to continue beating his wife. His stubbornness and lack of fear or respect is shown by not stopping to beat “somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess” because of his anger. His characteristics of stubbornness and anger causes him to lose his reputation as he suffered consequences for not respecting the gods of his clan. When the white missionaries brings Christianity to Umuofia, Okonkwo resists the new religious orders because he hates change and feels as though this would affect his societal status. As his village is taught Christian faith, the villagers are caught between resisting and embracing change. Okonkwo feels that the changes are destroying the Igbo culture as he clings to traditional beliefs. While Okonkwo can be seen as the traditions of the Igbo people or the past, Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son that converted to Christianity, can be seen as the modernization or the future of the clan where we later see Okonkwo giving up and commiting suicide not being able to save the change in his society that left the traditions behind.The plot of Little Bee, revolves around the characters Little Bee and Sarah which alternate perspectives in chapters. Sarah cutting off her middle finger, and Charlie’s Batman costume, shows the characters in Little Bee going through physical and psychological transformations. Symbols like Sarah’s middle finger are shown to be a catalyst and result of a change Sarah went through or is going through. When Andrew was given the option to cut his middle finger off to save the other girl’s lives, he couldn’t accept the permanent physical change but Sarah picks up the machete and chops off her middle finger without a thought. Sarah uses the stump in her finger to go through her memories. Sarah uses her memories to go through her present situation and deal with it, also to figure who she is and who she wants to be. Sarah’s middle finger is a symbol that she is willing to sacrifice anything in order to do the right thing. Cleave uses the imagery of a child, which is Charlie, to signify the internal conflict to find out who he is. “The summer after his father’s death, Charlie refuses to remove his batman costume unless it is bath time, and he will not answer to any other name other than Batman” (21). Charlie deals with the loss of his father, Andrew, through his imagination of himself as Batman. As Andrew deals with his depression, Charlie views it as “fighting baddies” (2.56). When Charlie tells Little Bee, “if I is not Batman all the time then mine daddy dies” (9.94) and “I was at mine nursery … when the baddies got mine Daddy” (9.102). What Charlie was trying to say that he became Batman to help fight his father’s illness but when he got sent to the nursery school his father died because he didn’t have the suit on. He changed his mindset psychologically into Batman to help his father but when Little Bee reveals to him at the end of the book that her real name is Udo (which means “peace”), Charlie is finally able to take off his Batman costume and become a normal kid again not having to bear the guilt and weight of his father’s death. In both cases, Charlie and Sarah went through physical transformations from their deep inner changes into something positive, only Sarah being permanent.

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