Transformation of a family under the influence of Christianity

During the period of Modernism, many authors often use literature to explore the transformations in culture, belief, lifestyle and human experience to the readers. In the story, “Chick’s School Days” written by Chinua Achebe, tells us the background of an African Child’s family in the beginning. This is where the author explores the first transformation about the traditional belief of an African family. The father, Amos insists to marry a woman Osu, who was considered to be the lowest caste in the Igbo class system. According to the passage “In the past an Osu could not raise his shaggy head in the presence of the free-born. He was a slave…to be despised and almost spat on” (828) we see how low the African society valued Osu as a slave. Amos’s mother is a character representing this traditional belief, who strongly opposes their marriage as it would degrade her son. But Chike’s father influenced by the Christian, Mr. Brown, and transformed into a more modernistic person, who doesn’t care about the caste and willing to marry her. Similarly in today’s modern society, people don’t really care about spouse’s last name as a factor of marriage.

Another transformation happens to Chike, as a child of a family of five daughters “Chike was brought up in the ways of the while man, which meant to opposite of traditional” (827). Since he got raised differently than the other traditional African kid, he refuses to eat heathen food. Chike was not even fluent in English but he is sent to a Christian school to receive Christian education. The teacher, environment and school greatly influence him in the interest of acquiring the new language. “He liked particularly the sound of English words, even when they conveyed no meaning at all” (830) this detail shows how much he loves English. Therefore, he is not a close-minded African child, he has transformed into an open-minded child who is willing to learn and sing.

The theme transformation also shows up in many other readings that we’ve read in the class. For examples, Lu Xun, “Diary of a Madman”, the madman was surrounded and raised in a feudal society, where he was able to transform himself into a moral person and differs than the cannibalism around him.  The period of Enlightenment is also a transformation in human knowledge, it transforms a person from being ignorant and lack of reason to an intellectual and rational person.

Can you relate the theme transformation to any other readings that we have read?

2 thoughts on “Transformation of a family under the influence of Christianity

  1. I agree with transformation being one of the themes of this story. People are often scared to try new things because they are very closed and set in their ways and a change might make them think that they will have to sacrifice part of who they are in order to participate. I can relate to this being Christian and having grown up in a church mainly ran by the “elders”. Now as times are changing and technology is advancing, it often becomes a battle of Old School vs. New School because of more upbeat contemporary gospel music and e-bibles, as opposed to slow and soulful hymns and old school bibles. Just because some churches want to update their systems in order to reach out to a younger and worldly audience to get them to be more interested in going to church, they’re looked at as “too worldly”, ungodly, and cop outs.

  2. The role of religion and how it is used in establishing the underlying theme of transformation is evidently seen in Achebe’s work, ” Chike’s School Days”. In regards to religion, the acceptance of a faith is openly expressed through Chike and his acceptance as well as his upbringing established a sense of having an openly expressed mind. You were able to cite at least two accounts where religion affected the outcome of a certain situation.
    First, the interaction with Chike and a neighbor, where the offer of food was seen as a heathen act. The neighbor was angered by Chike’s remarks and the fact that he seen this offering as a heathen act. But she coped with her anger by muttering, “… that even an Osu was full of pride nowadays, thanks to the white man”(828). Being an Osu meant that one was an untouchable and belonged to the lowest caste. There’s a conveying message in her response. In this case, the white man’s religion, Christianity, was the means in which one was able to break the barriers in social class and attain social mobility. The individual, Chike for instance, is no longer immobile nor does he have lesser value. The white man’s religion of Christianity gave Chike an identity. This is the moment where transformation is apparent. With this acquisition, Chike can now move on and achieve an education, and continue to express his love for the English language.
    In another account. we can see how close-minded these people are in matters of controversy. Amos’ mother, who herself was a late convert, was shocked at the fact that her son went on and married an Osu women, a women of low class. In retrospect, when others heard of this news, they pronounced that, “the new religion has gone to his head” (828). The people immediately blamed the religion. They assumed that the acceptance of his new religion played a huge role in his decisions. The close-minded aspect of these people are readily apparent. Ironically, his mother, being a convert, still couldn’t cope with her son’s actions. This new religion gave people certain freedoms that their initial culture couldn’t give them. When all else failed, his mother no longer was able to abide by her son. She, therefore pronounced him insane. “… but her son remained insane and married an Osu girl whose name was Sarah. Old Elizabeth renounced her new religion and returned to the faith of the her people” (829). The faith of her people, In fact, portrayed the close-minded aspect of man and the inequalities of society.
    In advocating your argument, I believe that religion played a crucial role in being the drive for this transformation. Being a convert and accepting the white man’s religion gave the people, who prior to, would’ve had no value in society. But, with their openly expressed practice of Christianity, they were able to make an identity for themselves. For Chike, his portrayal through the customs and practices of his faith, opened the gate to education, knowledge, and to a “strange, magical new world” (830) that made him happy.

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