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To understand why Achebe alludes to Yeats's poem "The Second Coming," one first needs to understand Yeats.
The more the church gained conversions from the Igbo culture, the stronger it grew day by day.
Yeats refers to the best as the good while the worst are the zealots that will rise.
“The Second Coming” has resonated in cultures all over the world since its first publication, and many writers have alluded to it in their own work.
A wonderful visual demonstration of this fact is online at Fu Jen University: a rebus of the poem with its words represented by the covers of the many books that quote them in their titles.
Achebe incorporates a similar interpretation of the quote as he describes the situation of the younger members of Mbanta village that showed interest in Christianity and were the first to convert. Conclusion Moreover, in the novel, Achebe hints, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity" (Yeats, lines 7-8) this also displays the weariness and acceptance of the new religion.
The best, tribe members that held titles, were looming the idea of Christianity while the worst, the outcasts and cursed, were dedicated and passionate.
History is not a one-way trip into chaos, and the passage between the gyres not the end of the world altogether, but a transition to a new world — or to another dimension.
The second section of the poem offers a glimpse into the nature of that next, new world: It is a sphinx — “a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi...
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