Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe: A Tale of Colonialism
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things fall apart is a novel by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian author. It is an authentic read from Nigeria not too long before they got their independence. It is one of the most read African novel. Even when it was written ages ago, people still purchase thousands of the book year in and out all over the world.
It is a refreshing African story that takes you deep into Nigerian culture and traditions. It also brings to life the cultural dilemma for people who grew up in his times. Born in 1930s Achebe grows up in an Igbo village and attends school for literacy. His storytelling is fun and refreshing and it accommodates his African and western audience.
Here is a brief study guide to help you understand Things Fall apart by Chinua Achebe.
Okwonko is a warrior in an Igbo village of Umuofia. He is strong and masculine. He grows up wanting to avenge Unoka’s, his father, legacy. His father dies poor and leaves many debts that led to Okonkwo growing up poor. His father was also a fighter. Okonkwo despises his father. He thinks he is weak and lazy and wanted to do better than him.
Okonkwo has several wives and children. He struggles first to make wealth and give them a decent life, However, he is stubborn and determined to change his status. He works hard and eventually builds a life for him and his wives. He is a top fighter in Omuofia and he ends up adopting a son, Ikemefuma.
Ikemefuma is the adoptive son of Okonkwo. He loves him very much and he is fond of him. He took him in as a peace offering after waring with a neighboring clan and killing his mother. Okonkwo does everything a father could do for Ikemefuma. Though he is fond of him, he does not openly display it to avoid appearing weak in front of his peers.
Other members of Okonkwo’s family include Nwoye and Enzima. Enzima is Okonkwo’s favorite daughter. Nwoye is his son who he sees as weak and feminine. Nwoye prefers listening to his mother’s stories than doing what Okonkwo would like for him. He also becomes one of the first people that convert into Christianity. Okonkwo sees this as betrayal.
Ekwefi is Okonkwo’s second wife. She runs away due to poverty and marries Okonkwo whom she fell in love with after watching him fight. She is liberated and tends to talk back to her husband. She is not afraid of Okonkwo though he beats him and their children every chance he gets.
Okonkwo is living his happy life until one day, the oracle declares that the boy, Ikemefuma, must die. The news is hard for the family. Yet, they have to oblige and let Ikemefuma be killed. Okonkwo volunteer to kill his adoptive son to show his masculinity.
As the novel progresses, Okonkwo kills his son and appeases the gods. He goes against a warning from an elder Ezeudu who warns him against killing his adoptive son. The days following Ikemefuma’s death are hard for him. He goes into depression and everything starts falling apart. He shoots a man during a 21-gun salute in the village. As a result, he and his family must live in another village.
They are to live in exile for 7 years. It is the village of Mbanta where his mother came from and he moves with his family. There he lives a life of solitude. Also, he becomes a believer and he believes that he is a changed man.
Soon enough, 7 years are over and Okonkwo can take his family back to Omuofia. He instructs one of his servants to sell his yam and use the money to build him two huts. They have a place to live while back in their home. Things go south when there is a conflict between Christianity and its effect on traditional values in the village.
In his act of bravery, Okonkwo beheads a man. The village does not react or join him in the attack against the white governance. He realizes he is on his own. The struggle continues between the white government and the villagers. In the end, Okonkwo gives up and decides to take his life. He ends up like his father.
He is considered a coward as the Igbo do not believe in suicide.
The book has a few character’s allowing the reader to follow the story seamlessly.
· Okonkwo- the protagonist. He is arrogant, abusive.
· Ikemefuma- Trusting, naïve
· Ezeudu- Wise
· Ekwefi- Outspoken
· Obierika- wise,
· Nwoye- Okonkwo’s son
1. Domestic violence
Okonkwo is known to hit and beat his wives and children. It is a way of Igbo men to show masculinity.
There is the war between Omuofia and the neighboring tribe.
The novel is written when Nigeria was under the British colonial rule. Okonkwo finds himself in caught up in the struggle between the colonial rulers, their religion, and his roots.
Nwoye converts to a Christian and gets the name Isaac after baptism.
We get to experience Okonkwo’s life and family. First we discover how he grew up and his life as a family man.
Chinua Achebe’s things fall apart is one of Africa’s ground breaking works of literature. The book among other writings from the author paved way for a new generation of African writers. Read the refreshing novel and get help understanding intricate nuances the author expresses in unique and exciting art of writing. Share post