Within'Things fall apart’, Achebe describes the influence of western colonialists on African societies. This effect is described very simply, but within that simplicity lies a rich and inventive use of language. The plot may move erratically for much of the book, but this pacing represents a deliberate attempt to conform to an essentially African tradition and literary style.'Things fall apartcontains themes reflecting the richness and sophistication of African cultures, as well as the debilitating influence of outsiders on that culture.
topics inthings fall apart
The Humanity of African Societies
Achebe was motivated to write'things fall apart'because he wanted to retell the story of Africans who had been portrayed in unfair one-dimensional representations by European imperialists and their art intermediaries. Achebe creates a very sophisticated and self-sufficient society with organized institutions. His goal was not to create a perfect society, but rather to stay true to the facts of the situation. In Umuofia we see that disputes between members are resolved fairly, as in the case between the brothers and Mgbafo's husband before theToque🇧🇷 The temperaments of the people in the community are not uniformly animalistic or primitive as depicted in the works of Joseph Conrad. Instead, there is a wide range of personality types, ranging from the highly chauvinistic and aggressive Okonkwo to the sentimental and gentle Unoka and Nwoye. Among them we have Obiereka and Ogbuefi Ezeudo, who do not lose heart and passion to adhere to the patriarchal principles of their society. There is a lot of complexity within the individual, as Okonkwo himself is not inherently evil, but was forced into it due to childhood trauma and pressures to live up to society's expectations. This complexity of the African individual and African society characterizes them as exciting or exotic more than usual.
clash of cultures
'things fall apart'tells the great tragedy of the displacement of traditional African societies by the invasion of Westerners with imperialist ambitions. The Umuofia community was self-governing, observing their customs and preserving their institutions for years. The worldview that every member of the community learned from birth, all the systems and institutions that he accepted without question, was suddenly threatened by the arrival of the white man with his religion and political system. The British came with a fundamentally different value system, power structure and religion. Disputes were no longer resolved in the old-fashioned way, with the overriding goal of maintaining community cohesion above all. Once without rulers, the people of Umuofia must now contend with colonialists who wield unusual power and authority over them. Essentially, with the advent of the white man, with his process and sense of justice disregarding people's customs, the people of Umuofia faced the erosion of their traditions and values.
Umuofia society is strongly patriarchal, and Okonkwo's behavior and motivations are shaped in part by her society's gender roles and expectations. Okonkwo measures his success by fulfilling his society's ideal of masculinity. He aspired to be a brave fighter and physical laborer on his farm because these activities represent the ultimate male achievement and demonstration of physical strength. Okonkwo's desire for undisputed dominance in his family often motivates his physical violence when he sees his authority challenged by his wives. The patriarchal order and gender expectations in the community extend to agriculture, with Okonkwo focusing on growing the supposedly male yam, leaving other, less important crops like cocoyam to his women to grow. Women also have a certain importance in society. For example, the goddess Ani is one of the most powerful and important deities within the Umuofia religious system. As the goddess of fertility, she has great influence in everyday life and dedicates a whole week to her honour, promoting feminine attributes such as peacefulness and tolerance.
'things fall apart'He sees the emergence of Igbo society in a pristine and undisturbed way, including its class system. Typical of the Igbo, the Umuofians valued and respected wealth and firmly placed the wealthy at the top of the social hierarchy, although their system was essentially democratic, with no clear rulers.
Titles, number of wives, number of names, and the size of the estate and number of huts within it are some of the physical and symbolic evidence of wealth, and the absence of all of these was clear evidence of an individual's failure in life. The less fortunate aren't exactly marginalized or excluded, they're still being dragged down, and we see evidence of this as public opinion turned against Okonkwo when he tried to silence a villager at a meeting, resulting in what followed suggested that this individual's opinion wasn't as important as he didn't make deals. However, the people of Umuofia valued wealth and thought that the rich were better than the poor. Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was mocked in the village for his poverty and the existence of the insult'on the other hand'and the popularity of its use suggests the existence of social consequences of poverty in that society.
Wealth isn't the only sign of status either. Within the Umuofia religious system there are two classes of people; the freeborn and theOsu. LosOsuThey are descendants of humans dedicated to lifelong service to the gods of the land. This, in many ways, permanently separates them from the freeborn and is therefore considered an inferior stock. With the advent of Christian missionaries and British sovereignty, these marginalized groups were accepted by the church and consequently gained gradual advancement in society, transcending Umuof's normal hierarchy.
Within the inclusive principle of Christianity, the Osu were equal to all other people in Christ. The "poor" and "useless" gained a new sense of purpose and meaning. The Church's propagation of supposedly "feminine" qualities such as love, tolerance and acceptance differs from Umuofia's traditional patriarchal values. Meanwhile, the population of those who uncompromisingly uphold Umuofia's traditional values continues to dwindle. Powerful villagers, including Okonkwo, were captured and humiliated by the British as they attempted to challenge the growing audacity and authority of those elements of the community who had joined the church. They were powerless against them until the arrival of missionaries and colonists meant a dismantling of Umuofia's traditional systems and a transfer of power away from the usual power brokers. Those who continue to resist this new state of affairs meet an ignominious end, like Okonkwo, who was forced to commit suicide. Thus, throughout the novel, we see the colonialists act as the oppressors and liberators of certain groups within Umuofia society.
Analysis of the main events of thethings fall apart
- Okonkwo casts Amalinze the cat and establishes himself as a talented and strong man.
- Okonkwo comes to tend to Ikemefuna, a gesture that marks his status as the leader of the community.
- Okonkwo takes part in Ikemefuna's murder, demonstrating his fear of being seen as weak.
- Okonkwo is banished from Umuofia after accidentally killing Ezeudo's son.
- Obierika visits Okonkwo in exile and informs him of the arrival of the white man.
- Nwoye leaves his father's hut to join Christians in Umuofia.
- Okonkwo returns from exile with his family to find a greatly changed Umuofia.
- Umuofia's men destroy the church building in retaliation after Enoch committed a sacrilege.
- The district commissioner arrests Okonkwo and other clan leaders as punishment for destroying the church and forces the community to pay a fine for their release.
- Okonkwo beheads the chief messenger and then commits suicide.
Style, tone and imagery bythings fall apart
'things fall apart'It is divided into three parts, with the first part being much longer and slower than the remaining two parts. The first part uses a paraphrasing narrative technique that moves between the present and the past. This represents the Igbo rhetorical technique of dodging a problem before addressing it directly.
The plot progression often pauses to give us parts of Okonkwo's backstory and insights into Umuofia's culture. This arrangement lacks the narrative linearity typical of classic European fiction. The structure helps portray African culture as comparatively developed, sophisticated, and self-sufficient. The remarkable handling of the harvest, the festivals associated with it, the wedding and funeral ceremonies and the convening of theToqueThe trials aren't necessarily the focus of the immediate action, but they exist to paint a rich cultural texture around the story. All of this gradually builds a picture of the culture in which Okonkwo lives and sheds light on Okonkwo's character.
In the second part of the novel, when missionaries and white settlers enter the scene, the novel picks up speed and the action continues almost without a break.
'things fall apart'It is written in a very accessible way. The sentences are fairly simple and the words are straightforward, with the exception of a few Igbo words that warrant translation. Achebe's writing is very effective. The interspersing of Igbo proverbs throughout the work helps to enrich the narrative and dialogue and give them a certain authenticity. Although written in English, Achebe retains a strong local cultural influence in the language. When we read the dialogues or follow the narration, the English language used does not detract from the authenticity of the dialogues and narration, as Achebe's writing renders the original Igbo contexts as accurately as possible.
Achebe can evoke great emotions through seemingly harmless actions. For example, before Ikemefuna was killed while passing by the Umuofians tasked with this work, Achebe chose that moment to write about Ikemefuna's excitement and hope to see his mother again. 🇧🇷 Achebe creates a powerful moment when Ikemefuna starts singing a song from his childhood and walks to the beat of the beat, deciding that if the song ends on the right leg it means his mother is still alive is, but if it ends on the left, his mother would be dead or sick. This mood of great optimism and innocence stands in stark contrast to the gruesome murder that follows. Ikemefuna's death, just as we get to know him so much better and relate to his hopes and fears and even support him, makes the whole scene even more powerful and moving. Ikemefuna superstitions are only part of a large body of myths or other religious precepts or ancient wisdom preserved through song, folklore, mythology, legend, aphorisms and proverbs that form an important part of Umuofia culture. Achebe uses all of this to great effect, inserting these cultural remnants and artifacts into the narrative to create rich texture and foundation.
All of this adequately secures the novel's ties to Igbo culture and leaves no doubt as to its authenticity and status as a legitimate portrayal of Igbo sensibilities.'things fall apart'uses a third-person perspective, but this narrator's perspective alternates between a participating actor and an outside observer, an "us" and a "them," at various points in the story. At times the narrator appears to be well informed and involved in people's actions and customs, at other times he appears to be a detached observer.
Analysis of key symbols inthings fall apart
Yam is the main crop of Umuofia society. The King of the Harvest is associated with masculinity and is an important status symbol. Okonkwo regards yams as the only crop worth growing personally, leaving the other crops to his wives and children. The number of yams in a man's barn is a definite indicator of his success in life. Yams symbolize wealth and abundance.
The Egwugwu Mask
LosToqueThe masks symbolize the connection of the villagers with the spiritual realm or with the land of their ancestors. The terrifying nature of the masks' designs and carvings, and the secrecy and anonymity with which their wearers operate, allows certain individuals to act on behalf of or with the unquestioned authority of the clan's gods or ancestors.
frequently asked questions
What does Okonkwo's death symbolize?'Things falling apart?'
Okonkwos Tod in'things fall apart'symbolizes the futility of fighting the changes brought about by the European colonizers. When the British arrived on their doorstep, the people of Umuofia were destined to lose their independence and way of life.
Why did Chinua write Achebe?'Things fall apart'?
Achebe wrote 'things fall apart'primarily to challenge unflattering and racist portrayals of African societies at the point of contact with European colonizers.
Chinua Achebe presented a perfect traditional African society in'Things falling apart?'
Chinua Achebe tried to challenge racist depictions in traditional African society'things fall apart'He didn't go to the other extreme by presenting a perfect society. Instead, he presented an African society with all its strengths and weaknesses and urged people not to idolize or reject these societies, but to see them as essentially human.
Es'things fall apart'internationally popular?
'things fall apart'It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular African romance novels of all time. It is widely used in schools around the world.
Things Fall Apart is the kind of book that makes reading so enjoyable. Not only did it have a captivating story to tell, it also had a great deal of meaning hidden within its text, giving me plenty of reasons to come back to this book long after finishing it.What is the message behind Things Fall Apart? ›
The Struggle Between Change and Tradition
As a story about a culture on the verge of change, Things Fall Apart deals with how the prospect and reality of change affect various characters. The tension about whether change should be privileged over tradition often involves questions of personal status.
It's considered an important work in world literature, albeit a controversial one—the book has been banned in some places for its critical portrayal of European colonialism. The book is split into three parts showing the reader the negative effects of colonization on the main characters' tribe.Why is Things Fall Apart an important book? ›
Achebe's primary purpose of writing the novel is because he wants to educate his readers about the value of his culture as an African. Things Fall Apart provides readers with an insight of Igbo society right before the white missionaries' invasion on their land.What are the 4 parts of book review? ›
After analyzing many book reviews (most or all of which are from mainstream sources), Campbell suggests four elements of criticism: reaction, summary, aesthetic appraisal and historical appraisal.What are the 3 elements of a book review? ›
The book review format includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. Describe the book cover and title.What is the irony at the end of Things Fall Apart? ›
In Things Fall Apart, the irony is that a proud, successful, and important man such as Okonkwo ends up hanging himself. It's tragic irony because the reader has many hints that this might happen. The reader sees on multiple occasions that Okonkwo doesn't deal well with change.What is the conclusion of Things Fall Apart? ›
Caught between his rage that the nine villages would succumb to European rule and the futility of fighting the Europeans alone, Okonkwo retreats to his compound and hangs himself. With this act, Okonkwo lives up to his role as a tragic hero whose struggles with society ultimately lead to death.What are the three themes in Things Fall Apart? ›
Main Themes in Things Fall Apart are: theme of gender and muscularity, father vs. son, flexibility vs. rigidity, resistance of cultural change, theme of fear, and complexity of Igbo culture.What is Okonkwo's tragic flaw? ›
The protagonist of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is also considered a tragic hero. A tragic hero holds a position of power and prestige, chooses his course of action, possesses a tragic flaw, and gains awareness of circumstances that lead to his fall. Okonkwo's tragic flaw is his fear of weakness and failure.
Things Fall Apart is regarded as an important novel and one of the greatest classics of our time. The story chronicles the pre-colonial life in Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century. The novel interrogates the clash of cultures, traditional values and belief systems.Is Things Fall Apart a masterpiece? ›
About the Author. Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian writer, who, through Things Fall Apart, among other works, helped develop a sense of Nigerian—and African—literary identity in the wake of the fall of European colonialism. His masterpiece work, Things Fall Apart, is the most widely read novel in modern Africa.Is Things Fall Apart an easy read? ›
Simplicity in the narrative makes it so easy to read. I like the way customs and traditions are explained so clearly and matter of factly that you can feel part of the village. I went through different emotions reading it. At times not even knowing what to think about Okonkwo, talk about a flawed protagonist!What are the main points of a book review? ›
The three main steps of writing a book review are simple: Provide a summary: What is story about? Who are the main characters and what is the main conflict? Present your evaluation: What did you think of the book?Which book review is best? ›
Goodreads. Goodreads is arguably the leading online community for book lovers. If you want some inspiration for which novel or biography to read next, this is the book review site to visit.How to review a story? ›
- Introduction. In the introduction, you should include some basic facts about the story, including the title, the author and the story genre. ...
- Summary. Briefly summarise the story. ...
- Personal reflection. ...
- Critical analysis. ...
Okonkwo's tragic fate is not his fault, it is the church's fault because they bombarded and caused a multitude of bad things to happen in Okonkwo's life that he believed the only way to be free was to kill himself. The Christian church comes into Umuofia bombarding…show more content…Why is Okonkwo's death ironic? ›
His body is evil, and only strangers may touch it… (Achebe, 207).” It is ironic how the men and woman who left his tribe suddenly withhold the old traditions of the Ibo by believing that Okonkwo's body is evil and will bring evil into their lives if they touch his body or visit his grave.What is the climax of Things Fall Apart? ›
Climax. The climactic point in the novel arises when, Okonkwo, without his realizing it, shoots a young member of his community and kills him. Though this was an accident, Okonkwo has to abide with the law that deems he should be banished from his village for seven years.What is the main conflict in Things Fall Apart? ›
Major conflict On one level, the conflict is between the traditional society of Umuofia and the new customs brought by the whites, which are in turn adopted by many of the villagers. Okonkwo also struggles to be as different from his deceased father as possible.
Okonkwo's death symbolizes the death of African culture. Achebe decided to illustrate the hands of Africans' giving in to Christianity to take charge by the act of Okonkwo committing suicide rather than being killed and subsequently wiping out the culture of Africa.Why is Okonkwo a tragic hero? ›
Okonkwo is a leader and hardworking member of his community, whose tragic flaw is his great fear of weakness and failure. Okonkwo's fall from grace in the Igbo community lead to suicide, which makes Okonkwo a tragic hero by definition.What is Okonkwo's greatest fear in life? ›
Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw.How many wives did Okonkwo have? ›
Okonkwo -The protagonist Okonkwo has a warrior complex and is a leader of the Igbo community of Umuofia. He despises his father Unoka because he sees his as lazy and weak. He has three wives and many children.Who is the hero of things fall apart? ›
The novel's protagonist, Okonkwo, is famous in the villages of Umuofia for being a wrestling champion, defeating a wrestler nicknamed "Amalinze The Cat" (because he never lands on his back). Okonkwo is strong, hard-working, and strives to show no weakness.What are some values in Things Fall Apart? ›
' (Ch. 2). Throughout Things Fall Apart we see the community values placed on strength and masculinity, title and personal achievement, women's role in society, and symbolism. The novel begins with Okonkwo, age eighteen, bringing honor to his village of Iguedo by defeating Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling match.How long does it take to read all Things Fall Apart? ›
Things Fall Apart
The book is 64,790 words long and can be read in 4 hours and 19 minutes on average, readinglength.com says. This is a must-read and considered to be one of the most important pieces of African literature.
- Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl.
- The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway.
- Lord of the Flies – William Golding.
- Empty World – John Christopher.
- To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone- J.K. Rowling.
In Things Fall Apart sexism is shown in many ways such as the abuse of women, social expectations and the power of males. But the Igbo culture views that as normal while the rest of the world despises the cultures way of treating women.What are Achebe's major criticisms of Conrad? ›
In his famous critique, “An Image of Africa”, Chinua Achebe takes a strong stand against Conrad's Heart of Darkness. He claims that Conrad was a racist and that a novella which so depersonalizes a potion of the human race should not be considered a great work of art (Achebe 176).
The analysis of feminist theory in Things Fall Apart presents reason for the sexism that is continuously portrayed. Sexism and problematic gender roles within the novel are repeatedly depicted throughout a number of scenes and characters.Where has Things Fall Apart been banned? ›
Studied widely in Africa, Europe, and North America, Things Fall Apart has nonetheless received criticism for its portrayal of colonialism and its consequences, and has reportedly been banned in Malaysia and Nigeria.Which wife did Okonkwo love the most? ›
Though not explicitly stated, we think Ekwefi might be Okonkwo's favorite wife, just like Ezinma is his favorite daughter.Was Okonkwo considered a female crime? ›
Crimes are divided into male and female types. Okonkwo's accidental killing of Ezuedu's son is considered manslaughter and therefore a female crime.Why did Okonkwo beat his wife? ›
During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo notices that his youngest wife, Ojiugo, has left her hut to have her hair braided without having cooked dinner. He beats her for her negligence, shamefully breaking the peace of the sacred week in a transgression known as nso-ani.Is Okonkwo toxic masculinity? ›
Okonkwo's believe of masculinity lead him to beat his own children and wife. In addition it also lead him to kill one of his loved ones. Even thought he loved Ikemfuna like a son he hated weakness so much because of his father laziness and inability to support his family.What is the significance of the title of Achebe's Things Fall Apart? ›
The title is a quote from W. B. Yeats's ominous poem “The Second Coming.” The reference to Yeats provides the novel with a sense of tragic inevitability. Achebe subtly underscores this sense of inevitability by echoing the language of Yeats's poem throughout the story.What does Achebe say about masculinity? ›
According to him, masculinity equals virtue, femininity equals weakness. Everything about him screams an obsession with being masculine – an obsession for power, reputation, wealth, and the ancient ways where men were men and women were women.Who is the target audience of Things Fall Apart? ›
In Things Fall Apart, Achebe chose to write the book in English, cater the novel to a western audience, and display the story in a unique narrative structure by introducing the Europeans at the end, all to highlight the theme of colonialism and provide a realistic African perspective on the European colonization of the ...How is gender shown in Things Fall Apart? ›
The study further shows that Achebe used language in Things Fall Apart to glorify masculine gender while portraying the female gender as docile, foolish, weak and irresponsible second-class citizen.
Tragedy, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
As you might guess from the title, Things Fall Apart is a tragedy. It tells the story of an African clan being invaded by outsiders and falling to pieces.
1. "Gender Queer: A Memoir," by Maia Kobabe. The most banned book of the 2021-2022 school year was "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe. It was removed from school libraries and/or classroom bookshelves on 41 separate instances, according to PEN America.What are the most banned books today? ›
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. ...
- Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison. ...
- All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. ...
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez. ...
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. ...
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. ...
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
- Maus by Art Spiegelman.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
- 1984 by George Orwell.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell.
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.