- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Things Fall Apart

Essay by   •  October 29, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,038 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,923 Views

Essay Preview: Things Fall Apart

Report this essay
Page 1 of 9

As you know many novels are structured around routine themes, symbols, and occasional motifs. The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is no exception to the mean. The culturally crafted novel showcases an African man named Okonkwo and the Igbo people, a tribe in Nigeria, and they're being susceptible to change. Mostly focusing on Okonkwo's characters solid stubbornness to change and how it causes his demise and eventually destroys him completely. It 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. There are also strong opinions of the main character, Okonkwo. We are then introduced to the views of his village, Umuofia. We see how things fall apart when these beliefs and customs are confronted by those of the white missionaries.

The authors full name is, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe also known as Chinua, he was born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He is a product of both native and European cultures. This has a great effect on the telling of the story. He attended Government College in Umuahia from 1944 to 1947 and University College in Ibadan from 1948 to 1953. He then received a B.A. from London University in 1953. Since then, he has taught variously at the universities of Nigeria, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart partly in response to what he saw as inaccurate characterizations of Africa and Africans by British authors. The book was published in 1958, he was 28 years old at the time. It was very successful and has sold over 2,000,000 copies, and has been translated into thirty languages. He has written a total of fifteen different books in his lifetime. He became a political activist in the late 1960's early 1970's. Thirty years ago Chinua Achebe was one of the founders of this new style of literature, and over the years many critics have come to consider him the finest of the Nigerian novelists. His achievement, however, has not been limited to his continent. He is considered by many to be one of the best novelists now writing in the English language. In recent decades he has held a succession of teaching posts, notably a professorship at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

In Thing Fall Apart, we see a conflict early in the story between Okonkwo and his father, Unoka. "Okonkwo was ruled by one passion - to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness" (Achebe pg.13). Unoka was considered to be a failure. Okonkwo did not receive anything from his father and he had to start out with nothing. His goal "chi" in life was to obtain great wealth and to have many wives and children. The Ibo people considered these things signs of success. Yet, his greatest goal was his desire to become one of the powerful elders of the clan. It is Okonkwo's inner anger and bitterness over his father's failure that seemed to be the driving force behind everything he did in life. This was evident in the fact that he always felt as though he had to do what was manly and he hated weakness.

Just as Okonkwo did not want to be like his father, Nwoye did not want to be like Okonkwo. Nwoye possessed traits that Okonkwo did not such as gentleness, forgiveness, and acceptance. Okonkwo saw these as signs of weakness. "Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength" (Achebe pg.28). The Igbo people had a very different religious lifestyle than what the British were used to here. Their culture was very different as well. They believed in polytheism (the belief in many gods). In the United States it seems that everyone one here is monotheistic (the belief in one god). The Igbo supreme god was Chukwu, they believe "he made all the world and the other gods" (Achebe pg.179). Everything has a spirit. They also believed that the law was kept by a group of nine ancestral spirits called egwugwu. These ancestral spirits represented a village, that is why there were nine.

The Igbo family consisted of a nuclear family which was the man, his wives, and how many children they had. This was a normal family in the Igbo culture. Each wife had her own hut she shared with her children. Men practiced polygamy, while the women were monogamous. Twins were excluded from their society. There was also a group of elders, they were men who achieved high ranking titles, and who kept order in the village. Their culture respected the seniors because they were filled with knowledge and wisdom. They had their own political structure, it was considered to be a patriarchal society. This had a major impact on their everyday lifestyle.

In the fourth chapter Okonkwo is yelled at by Ezeani, the priest of the earth goddess, for beating his wife during the sacred week of peace. Okonkwo did not feel remorse for his actions and probably thought of it as a sign of strength and manhood. Okonkwo was always worried about being seen as weak. One good example of this is when he kills Ikemefuna. Okonkwo liked the boy because he saw several good qualities in him that he wished his own son possessed. However, he had to be killed because of one of their customs. When it came time to kill Ikemefuna, Okonkwo delivered the second and final blow from his machete and killed the boy so that people would not think that he was weak. After Ikemefuna was killed, Okonkwo was unable to eat or drink for days because he was upset. But, he made himself get rid of those feelings and reminded himself that killing someone should not bother him because he feared being seen as weak, like a "shivering old woman" (Achebe pg.65). This same event is also a major breakdown for Okonkwo. Killing Ikemefuna represents killing off everything in which Okonkwo believed very strongly in. He saw many of his own qualities in Ikemefuna. He could have done a lot of good for the clan and Okonkwo was very proud of him but, he ends up killing Ikemefuna himself.

Just as Okonkwo was gaining power and higher positions within the clan, he was banished for seven years for accidentally killing another member of the clan. They burned all his huts down and he and his family had to live in his motherland. He had to resettle in his



Download as:   txt (10.7 Kb)   pdf (126.2 Kb)   docx (13 Kb)  
Continue for 8 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 10). Things Fall Apart. Retrieved 10, 2010, from

"Things Fall Apart" 10 2010. 2010. 10 2010 <>.

"Things Fall Apart.", 10 2010. Web. 10 2010. <>.

"Things Fall Apart." 10, 2010. Accessed 10, 2010.