Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

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“Tragedy arouses not only pity but also fear…” Things Fall Apart doesn’t tell you what “has” happened it shows you what is going to happen. In Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe is dramatizing what may happen and what was happening. The District commissioner suggested a book title at the end of the book. I think the book title’s main purpose was to suggest what may happen.”…The Pacification of the Lower Niger Tribes.”

A tragedy has a protagonist, the protagonist is someone who is renowned or prosperous, and has a change of fortune from good to bad or vice versa. The driving force or protagonist in Things Fall Apart is undoubtedly Okonkwo. Okonkwo was a prominent clansman of Umuofia. He had three wives and eight children. Okonkwo had many changes of fortune during Things Fall Apart. He got his start by sharecropping for Nwakibie. Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land. From there he acquired his own farm. When he thought he could never fall, Okonkwo had a cruel twist in fate. His gun exploded and killed Ezeudu’s son. Okonkwo was then banished for seven years, and from there everything started to fall apart.

Things Fall Apart and Okonkwo both evoke many emotions; fear, pity, anguish, compassion, and hope. There is a great deal of compassion when his own son went against, him and there is hope that the Ibo culture will stay in tact even though you know the outcome of the white man coming in contact with the Ibo culture.

According to Aristotle, tragedies use many metaphors. Things Fall Apart has metaphors which are accompanied by many Ibo culture proverbs. “…Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water.”(1). In Things Fall ...

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...er reach that level of success he wanted.”…Clearly his personal god or chi was not made for great things. A man could not rise beyond the destiny of his chi” (121) His elders said”if a man said yes his chi affirmed”. Okonkwo said yes but despite his elders own affirmation his chi said no. His life was a constant buildup then a tumbling down. He got away from his father’s mistakes and built a prosperous compound and family. This success fell down, and he was exiled for seven years. He built up his farm again in his mother’s village of Mbanta. This success was overshadowed by the coming of the white man and Nwoye changing his name to Isaac and what that symbolized. Everything” really” fell apart when Okonkwo finally killed himself.

“The lizard would like to stand erect, but his tail will not permit him.”-(Ibo Proverb)

Works Cited
"Things fall Apart" Chinua Achebe
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