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Things Fall Apart

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❶The theme — often several themes — guides the author by controlling where the story goes, what the characters do, what mood is portrayed, what style evolves, and what emotional effects the story will create in the reader. Corbett, in his Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student , sees rhetoric as the basis of an author's engagement with his reader, those elements or strategies through which the reader is brought to accept the world which the author has created.

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by Chinua Achebe
From the SparkNotes Blog

Against Achebe's theme of Igbo cultural complexity is his theme of the clash of cultures. This collision of cultures occurs at the individual and societal levels, and the cultural misunderstanding cuts both ways: Just as the uncompromising Reverend Smith views Africans as "heathens," the Igbo initially criticize the Christians and the missionaries as "foolish. Writing as an African who had been "Europeanized," Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as "an act of atonement with [his] past, the ritual return and homage of a prodigal son.

Related to the theme of cultural clash is the issue of how much the flexibility or the rigidity of the characters and by implication, of the British and Igbo contribute to their destiny.

Because of Okonkwo's inflexible nature, he seems destined for self-destruction, even before the arrival of the European colonizers. The arrival of a new culture only hastens Okonkwo's tragic fate.

Two other characters contrast with Okonkwo in this regard: Brown, the first missionary, and Obierika, Okonkwo's good friend. Whereas Okonkwo is an unyielding man of action, the other two are more open and adaptable men of thought. Brown wins converts by first respecting the traditions and beliefs of the Igbo and subsequently allowing some accommodation in the conversion process.

Like Brown, Obierika is also a reasonable and thinking person. He does not advocate the use of force to counter the colonizers and the opposition. Rather, he has an open mind about changing values and foreign culture: Obierika's receptive and adaptable nature may be more representative of the spirit of Umuofia than Okonkwo's unquestioning rigidity. For example, consider Umuofia's initial lack of resistance to the establishment of a new religion in its midst.

With all its deep roots in tribal heritage, the community hardly takes a stand against the intruders — against new laws as well as new religion. What accounts for this lack of community opposition? Was Igbo society more receptive and adaptable than it appeared to be?

The lack of strong initial resistance may also come from the fact that the Igbo society does not foster strong central leadership. This quality encourages individual initiative toward recognition and achievement but also limits timely decision-making and the authority-backed actions needed on short notice to maintain its integrity and welfare.

Whatever the reason — perhaps a combination of these reasons — the British culture and its code of behavior, ambitious for its goals of native "enlightenment" as well as of British self-enrichment, begin to encroach upon the existing Igbo culture and its corresponding code of behavior. A factor that hastens the decline of the traditional Igbo society is their custom of marginalizing some of their people — allowing the existence of an outcast group and keeping women subservient in their household and community involvement, treating them as property, and accepting physical abuse of them somewhat lightly.

The clan does not judge men on their father's faults, and Okonkwo's status is based on his own achievements. He is a great wrestler, a brave warrior, and a respected member of the clan who endeavors to uphold its traditions and customs.

He lives for the veneration of his ancestors and their ways. Okonkwo's impetuousness and rigidness, however, often pit him against the laws of the clan, as when he beats his wife during the Week of Peace.

The first part of the novel traces Okonkwo's successes and failures within the clan. In the second part he is finally exiled when he shoots at his wife and accidentally hits a clansman. According to clan law, his property is destroyed, and he must leave his father's land for seven years.

He flees to his mother's homeland, which is just beginning to experience contact with Christian missionaries. Okonkwo is anxious to return to Umuofia, but finds upon his return—the third part of the novel—that life has also begun to change there as well. The Christian missionaries have made inroads into the culture of the clan through its disenfranchised members.

Shortly after his return, Okonkwo's own son leaves for the mission school, disgusted by his father's participation in the death of a boy that his family had taken in and treated as their own. Okonkwo eventually stands up to the missionaries in an attempt to protect his culture, but when he kills a British messenger, Okonkwo realizes that he stands alone, and kills himself.

Ironically, suicide is considered the ultimate disgrace by the clan, and his people are unable to bury him. The main theme of Things Fall Apart focuses on the clash between traditional Igbo society and the culture and religion of the colonists.

Achebe wrote the novel in English but incorporated into the prose a rhythm that conveyed a sense of African oral storytelling. He also used traditional African images including the harmattan an African dust-laden wind and palm oil, as well as Igbo proverbs.

In an effort to show the clash between the two cultures, Achebe presented traditional Christian symbols and then described the clan's contrasting reactions to them.

For instance, in Christianity, locusts are a symbol of destruction and ruin, but the Umuofians rejoice at their coming because they are a source of food. The arrival of the locusts comes directly before the arrival of the missionaries in the novel. Transition is another major theme of the novel and is expressed through the changing nature of Igbo society.

Several references are made throughout the narrative to faded traditions in the clan, emphasizing the changing nature of its laws and customs. Colonization is a time of great transition in Umuofia and the novel focuses on Okonkwo's rigidity in the face of this change. Other themes include duality, the nature of religious belief, and individualism versus community. Reviewers have praised Achebe's neutral narration and have described Things Fall Apart as a realistic novel. Much of the critical discussion about Things Fall Apart concentrates on the socio-political aspects of the novel, including the friction between the members of Igbo society as they are confronted with the intrusive and overpowering presence of Western government and beliefs.

This paper is an attempt to explore the Ibo culture and to discuss women as a marginalized group in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Achebe is a fastidious, skillful artist and garnered more critical attention than any other African writer. His reputation was soon established after his novel Things Fall Apart.

He made a considerable influence over young African writers. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English. It seeks to discover the cultural zeitgeist of its society.

Before dying, Ikemefuna thinks of Okonkwo as

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- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs and customs, and also a story about conflict. There is struggle between family, culture, and the religion of the Ibo, which is all brought on by a difference in personal beliefs and customs of the Igbo and the British.

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Things Fall Apart essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

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Mar 12,  · [In the following essay, MacKenzie traces the shift in belief of the African people in Things Fall Apart and asserts that the shift results from changing social and economic conditions. Matters of religion are thematically . Dec 15,  · An Essay on Things Fall Apart "Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all." (Aristotle). Okonkwo is a perfect example of Aristotle’s quote in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

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Things Fall Apart: Examining Literary Merit. by Feross Aboukhadijeh. In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the reader is taken on a literary journey to a Nigerian tribe, the Umuofia, to experience first-hand the struggles of a warrior named Okonkwo. At first glance, the novel appears to be written for a very specific audience: scholars familiar . Sep 05,  · Suggested Essay Topics. 1. Think about the role of weather in the novel. How does it work, symbolically or otherwise, in relation to important elements of the novel such as religion? Are rain and draught significant? Explore the ways in which weather affects the emotional and spiritual realms of the novel as well as the physical world. 2.