An Analysis of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

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Chinua Achebe is well known as the father of African literature. His first novel, “Things Fall Apart” is an interesting story full of tragedy, which takes place in Umuofia, Nigeria in the 19th century. Achebe sought to correct European writers who were misrepresenting Africans and life in Nigeria. According to Nnoromele (2000), the Igbo clan is a self-sufficient, complex, and vigorous group of African people. Achebe wrote “Things Fall Apart” to accurately represent the conflict between Nigeria’s white colonial government and the culture of the native Igbo people. “Things Fall Apart” is the perfect title for this novel. As the reader takes the journey through this interesting, yet tragic story, it becomes clear how, and why things fell apart.

Achebe effectively framed his story around the rise and fall of a tragic hero named Okonkwo. According to (2011), a tragic hero is defined as “a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy.” In the beginning, Okonkwo is a powerful and much respected villager in Umuofia. “But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness” (13). This fear is the tragic flaw that threatens Okonkwo’s power and position with clansmen and the Igbo people. Eventually his life falls apart.

Achebe’s story is also framed around the village of Umuofia’s cultural traditions. Umuofia’s confrontation and struggle with colonialism from the West is effectively portrayed in the story. “The white man had indeed brought a lunatic religion, but he had also built a trading store and for the first time palm-oil and kernel became things of great price, and much money fl...

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... father, and he succeeded in destroying his relationship with his son Nwoye.

Works Cited

Achebe, C. (1959) Things fall apart, (1st Ed.) Anchor Books, New York, NY

Hoegberg, D. (1999). Principle and practice: the logic of cultural violence in Achebe’s

things fall apart. College Literature 26(1), 69-78.

Kirszner, L. G., & Mandel, S. R. (2010). Compact Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing

(7th Ed.) Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Larson, C. R. (1998) Okonkwo in his time. World & I, 13(3), 298.

Nnoromele, P. C. (2000). The plight of a hero in Achebe’s things fall apart. College

Literature, 27(2), 146-155.

Saltau, M. (2003). Inflexibility brings tribe undone; resources text talk. The Age

(Melbourne, Austrialia), 7.

Tragic hero. (n.d.). (2011). Unabridged. Retrieved from hero
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