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“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe Essay Sample

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Introduction
Chinua Achebe

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 discussion often centers around the question of Okonkwo's culpability in the killing of the boy, Ikemefuna. Many critics have argued that Okonkwo was wrong and went against the clan when he became involved in killing the boy.

Other reviewers have asserted that he was merely fulfilling the command of the Oracle of the Hills and Caves. Several reviewers have also noted his use of African images and proverbs to convey African culture and oral storytelling. Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. The novels of Chinua Achebe, the best of the new generation of West Africans writing in English, 1 begin with the coming of the white man to the bush and end in contemporary Lagos, and show the process of moral and cultural disintegration that results from colonialism.

The novels reveal the changing perspectives of each succeeding generation, which have also been described by In defending its importance, most critics link its value solely to its theme, which they take to be the disintegration of an almost Edenic traditional society as a result of its contact and conflict with Western practices and beliefs.

These enthusiastic critics, such as Gleason and Killam, are Perhaps the least controversial statement one could make in the field of African literature is that Chinua Achebe is a didactic writer. By his own statements and through his work, Achebe clearly shows his belief in the role of the artist as teacher. The pejoration of the word Thus Achebe's first novel, written in English, though he is himself a Nigerian of the Igbo people, was a notable event.

More noteworthy was the fact that it was As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his matchet, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. Why does Okonkwo end tragically?

This question haunts every reader of Things Fall Apart, for we sense that a satisfactory answer would explain not only Chinua Achebe's complex protagonist but also the writer's larger concern about the destruction of traditional African society during the period of colonization.

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. When representatives of a foreign culture beginning with Christian missionaries enter Igbo territory and accept these marginalized people — including the twins — at their full human value, the Igbo's traditional shared leadership finds itself unable to control its whole population.

The lack of a clear, sustaining center of authority in Igbo society may be the quality that decided Achebe to draw his title from the Yeats poem, "The Second Coming. Underlying the aforementioned cultural themes is a theme of fate , or destiny.

This theme is also played at the individual and societal levels. In the story, readers are frequently reminded about this theme in references to chi , the individual's personal god as well as his ultimate capability and destiny.

Okonkwo, at his best, feels that his chi supports his ambition: At his worst, Okonkwo feels that his chi has let him down: His chi "was not made for great things. A man could not rise beyond the destiny of his chi. Here was a man whose chi said nay despite his own affirmation" Chapter At the societal level, the Igbos' lack of a unifying self-image and centralized leadership as well as their weakness in the treatment of some of their own people — both previously discussed — suggest the inevitable fate of becoming victim to colonization by a power eager to exploit its resources.

In addition to the three themes discussed in this essay, the thoughtful reader will probably be able to identify other themes in the novel: Previous Chinua Achebe Biography.

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Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe. Chapter 1 Part 1: Chapter 2 Part 1: Chapter 3 Part 1: Chapter 4 Part 1: Chapter 5 Part 1: Chapter 6 Part 1: Chapter 7 Part 1: Chapter 8 Part 1: Chapter 9 Part 1: Chapter 10 Part 1: Chapter 11 Part 1: Chapter 12 Part 1: Chapter 13 Part 2: Chapter 14 Part 2: Chapter 15 Part 2:

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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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Things Fall Apart is a novel with literary merit—and lots of it. Part of the novel’s appeal lies in its compelling themes which strike chords that resound throughout time and across linguistic barriers. Mar 12,  · Essays and criticism on Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart - Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe.

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What role does storytelling play in the novel? Within the complex oral culture of the Igbo, elaborate storytelling is a prized art form as well as a crucial social tool. Children learn their families’ history through their mothers’ fireside tales, and clan members absorb communal values through. Free Essay: In Things Fall Apart the Igbo society is dominated by gender roles. Husbands beat their wives just for bringing food a few minutes late. Women.