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Albert Chinualumogu Achebe - Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart

By Chinua Achebe

Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

New York, New York

Copyright 1959

Author Biography

Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, or Chinua Achebe, was born November 16, 1930, in Ogidi, Nigeria. His parents were Janet N. Achebe, and Isaiah Okafo, a teacher in a missionary school. Mr. Achebe was educated at the University College of Ibadan, but also attended Government College in 1944. He wrote his first novel, Things Fall Apart, in 1958. During the Biafran War, he was in the Biafran government service. After the war, Mr. Achebe taught at several universities, both in Nigeria and in the United States. In 1967 he cofounded a publishing company with a fellow author, Christopher Okigbo. Mr. Achebe's later works include No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, and Anthills of the Savannah. A serious car accident left Mr. Achebe paralyzed from the waist down in 1990. The majority of his novels deal with Africans struggle to free themselves from European colonial and political influences, due to his experiences in the Biafran War and the Nigerian Civil War.

Main Characters

Okonkwo- Okonkwo is the main character in the novel. He is a distinguished man in the clan, and has been since a young age, when he established himself as a skilled wrestler. He had a very lazy father, and this was a source of much embarrassment to him, so to overcome this, he is an overbearing husband, and father. He feels that he always has to prove that he is different than his father, which is eventually his downfall.

Unoka- Unoka is Okonkwo's father. He was a very lazy man and always an embarrassment to his family, especially his son. He is the reason that Okonkwo is so scared of failing.

Nwoye- Nwoye is Okonkwo's son, and he is lazy and complacent, like his grandfather. Okonkwo's way of changing this is to be especially hard on him, which drives him further away, eventually to join the missionaries.

Ezinma- Ezinma is Okonkwo's daughter, and he is proud of her, even though he won't show this because he thinks that it is a weakness. She is smart and pretty. Okonkwo wishes that she were a boy so that he could pass on his knowledge and fortune to her.

Mr. Brown- Mr. Brown is the first missionary to arrive in Umuofia. He is nice enough to the clan, so they decide to let him stay, but soon enough he brings others, both from the clan and from outside, into the church. The missionaries are what eventually bring Okonkwo to take his own life.

Principal Points of Plot

Conflict- The conflict in the novel Things Fall Apart is the conflict that Okonkwo has a lazy father and his struggle to be different and better than him.

Complication- The climax of the novel is when Okonkwo accidentally shoots a member of the clan and is banished for seven years. This is the climax because it signals the beginning of Okonkwo's fall from a distinguished member of the clan.

Climax- The complication in the novel is when the missionaries come to Umuofia and create tension among the clan and between the clan and the church.

Conclusion- The conclusion in Things Fall Apart is when Okonkwo hangs himself in a tree. This is the ultimate way for him to differentiate himself from his father.


The theme of Things Fall Apart is that you can never be satisfied with yourself if you are constantly trying to show people that you are something that you are not. Okonkwo had a lazy father, a very embarrassing thing in his culture. He feels that somehow, he must show people that he is better than that, so he works very hard to make a name for himself. Once he has done that, he is afraid to let up and enjoy his success, because he thinks people will respect him less if he doesn't work as hard. Therefore, Okonkwo can never be satisfied with himself because he is constantly trying to show people that he is something that he is not. The only way that he thinks he can let up this faÐ*ade is when he is dead, which is how he resolves his problem. Proof of this is when he kills himself because he cannot deal with

the fact that the missionaries have taken over his village.

Five Quotes From the Novel

1. The narrator is talking. Chapter Three

With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life, which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife. But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father's lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father's contemptible life and shameful death.

This is an important excerpt from the novel because it basically explains why Okonkwo acts the way he does and why he is so determined not to take the same path as his father. It also sets the tone for the novel and lets the reader know what Okonkwo is like.

2. Mr. Kiaga is talking. Chapter Eighteen

"Unless you shave off the mark of your heathen belief I will not admit you into the church," said Mr. Kiaga. "You fear that you will die. Why should that be? How are you different from other men who shave their



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