Throughout many works of literature is the recurring theme of the belief in the fate of God/gods. The fate of a person given to them by God/gods is shown many times throughout Things Fall Apart and other writings by Chinua Achebe. According to Foley, the chi, “functions as the divine agent whereby an individual is created and through which that individual’s life-destiny is determined” (50). This quote clearly supports the theme of the gods dealing with the fate of an individual. Many times in Things Fall Apart, Achebe writes about Okonkwo’s chi, or personal god.
Achebe’s writing leads the reader to believe that the chi is the reason that the good and bad things happen to Okonkwo. Achebe also writes about Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, chi and how his father’s bad chi was the reason Unoka never amounted to anything. Achebe wrote that, “Unoka was an ill-fated man. He had a bad chi or personal god, and evil fortune followed him to the grave, or rather to his death, for he had no grave” (18). “Okonkwo, at an early age, he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler in all the land. That was not luck. At the most ne could say that his chi or personal god was good” (27).
These quotes reinforce the theme of the fate of the gods because the quotes state that the reason bad or good things happen to people is because of their chi. Ukona’s chi was not reputable so he never took a title, was poor, in debt, a failure to his family, and died a horrible death. Okonkwo on the other hand had a very good chi which lead him to achieve great things. At eighteen, Okonkwo beats the Cat in a wrestling match and became the greatest wrestler in nine villages.
Okonkwo was a wealthy farmer, having three wives, and taking on two titles. All of Okonkwo’s fame and wealth were achieved through a good chi. Foley’s article states that Achebe likes to write about chi in his writings, and that Achebe has even written an essay entitled Chi in Igbo Cosmology. Achebe re-emphasizes the universal theme of gods determining people’s fate by writing about different characters’ chi at least fifteen times throughout Things Fall Apart. There are many themes in Oedipus the King, but one that is universal to man is choices and consequences.
Man tries to avoid their fate by making their own choices, but their consequences lead them back to their fate. The author states, “Another theme in the play is the distinction between the truthfulness in oracles and prophecies of the gods, as opposed to man’s ability to influence his life’s trajectory through his own actions” (208). The author of this article is bringing to light a theme in Oedipus the King. The author wants to show the reader how Oedipus tries to avoid the truth of his fate, but his actions keep leading him back to his destiny.
Sophocles writes, “[Oedipus] I would not have been saved from death if not for some strange evil fate. Well, let my fate go where it will” (1643-45). While free choices, such as Oedipus’ decision to pursue knowledge of his identity are significant, fate is responsible for Oedipus’ many critical and devastating events of the play. Sophocles’ story of Oedipus is meant to show that error, and disaster can happen to anyone, and that human beings are relatively powerless before fate or the gods. Revenge is universal to every man in all works of literature.
Euripides’ writing of Medea uses revenge and violence to make people see who they are as humans and how universal violent revenge is. Palaima states that revenge has many targets, “including noble and reverent men and women, the old and the young, the strong and the weak, newborn puppies, those who have sinned and those who are pure and righteous and helpless” (7). Palaima is stating how Euripides’ writing is intended to connect with every kind of person. Revenge can take over anyone at any time due to how easy it is to get angry at something or someone and want to get even with the wrong doing or doer.
Revenge is not always violent, but in the majority works of literature the revenge is most likely going to be a violent act of revenge. In Euripides’ writing, Medea says, “I will myself take the sword — even if I must die — and kill them — I will go to such an extreme of daring” (392-393). Medea used to love Jason, but that love quickly turns to deep anger and hate, so much so that Medea is willing to kill her own children in an act of revenge towards Jason. This very violent act of revenge contributes to the universal theme revenge is in everyone.
Greek literature is mainly an oral public performance embedded with violence. Medea appeals to readers now, as well as back when it was written because people today, along with the ancient Greeks, understand that the world is a violent place with violent people always looking for revenge. In many works of literature dealing with God, there is the universal theme loss of religious faith. In writings, God with be the all mighty figure for most people, and the characters of the story depend on God.
But there is usually a falling out with God, presenting the reader with the theme of maybe there is no God. Schwarz believes that one of the most important themes in Night is, “the loss of faith in that God can do or will do nothing to prevent the Holocaust. Young Wiesel has a transvaluation of faith to disbelief and unbelief. He loses all illusions about a purposeful world” (221). In Night, Eliezer began to lose faith in God because God had decided to do nothing, or was not able to do anything to help him in the Holocaust.
Elie Wiesel writes, My eyes were open and I was alone–terribly alone in a world without God and without man. Without love or mercy. I had ceased to be anything but ashes, yet I felt myself to be stronger than the Almighty, to whom my life had been tied for so long. In the midst of these men assembled for prayer, I felt like an observer, a stranger (68). Elie Wiesel’s main character, Eliezer, has stopped believing in God. Eliezer believes that he is stronger than God, and was foolish to be tied down to God for so long.
Many times throughout the book, Wiesel writes about Eliezer having disbelief in God. In Night, as well in other writings that have God written in them, the universal theme of disbelief in God is predominant throughout. Many characters in modern day and ancient writings have the need to know everything about themselves. That is why many modern young adult books are centered around the theme of the protagonist embarking on a quest to find out their past. The same happened in ancient writings such as Oedipus the King.
The complex character of Oedipus and the intensity of his conflict-ridden struggle for self-knowledge is Sophocles’ work,” according to Zachrisson, “it is Sophocles’ conception of man” (329). Sophocles’ perception of man is that man is always working towards self-knowledge. Over time, other authors have taken Sophocles’ theme of self-knowledge and used it in their own work creating a universal theme of needing self-knowledge. In Sophocles’ play, Oedipus the King, Oedipus says, “You would provoke a stone!
Tell us, you villain, tell us, and do not stand there quietly unmoved and balking at the issue” (374-376). In Oedipus’ need for self-knowledge, he called upon Teiresias the blind prophet for help. Teiresias would not tell Oedipus his past because of how horrible it was, but nevertheless Oedipus still demanded to know. Oedipus felt like if he knew his past and the past of his country, he would be relieved of anxiousness. Zachrisson’s article states that the main reason that people try to figure out their past is to find closure with them.
In the beginning Oedipus’ search of knowledge was for the closure of his country, because of a person plaguing the nation. In the process of trying to find closure for the nation, Oedipus inadvertently found out about himself, and therefore started trying to find out all about himself to find closure. Both Zachrisson’s and Sophocles’ writing supports the universal theme of self-knowledge. Sophocles’ writing shows how man struggles in finding self-knowledge, while Zachrisson’s writing explains how modern day writing has the same universal theme and why. Wiesel … stays alive through his relationship with his father.
Caring and watching for each other, neither one succumbs. ” The prisoners in the concentration camps hold on to their family. The most important thing to them is to stay with your family members as long as possible. For some prisoners, all that keeps them alive is knowing that their family is safe. However, as the book progresses and the suffering of the prisoners increases in intensity, a major conflict in the book arises: protect oneself vs. loyalty to family.
This conflict is seen especially clearly in the relationship between fathers and sons. Night explores the ways traditional father-son relationships break down under difficult conditions. Before the Holocaust began the relationship of father to son was traditional—the father being the positive role model to the son, and the son respecting his father. After the family is split up, Eliezer and his father have only each other to live for. As his father weakens, the traditional roles of protector and protected are reversed. It is Eliezer who must protect his father.