An Analysis of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

An Analysis of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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The Importance of Things Fall Apart

 

 

The novel "Things Fall Apart", by Chinua Achebe, was an eye-opening account of the life and eventual extinction of an African tribe called the Ibo. It focuses on one character, Okonkwo, who at a very early age set out on a quest of self-perfection. Coming from a family ruled by a man who was lazy and inconsistent with everything he did, Okonkwo vowed to never accept the fate of his father. Okonkwo and his family suffered through many hard times in their lives, but usually managed to come out on top. Through terrible crop seasons and bad judgement calls, Okonkwo usually prevailed, until the day came when he was faced with a situation that could not be resolved by his strength and character alone.

 

This novel also provided a very detailed, and seemingly accurate, account of the lives of the Ibo. The Ibo were an extremely spiritual people who answered to their gods daily. A hardworking people who based their personal worth on their community and crop achievements. Their yam crops were the backbone of the community and he who possessed the largest crops were usually respected by all in the community. The Ibo were a very gendered people. The men normally made all the rules and the woman were taught to respect their husbands decisions. In particular, Okonkwo ruled his household with an iron fist. He often beat his wives for small reasons and felt little to no remorse for doing so. While it was not uncommon for the men of the Ibo tribe to beat their wives if they disobeyed orders, Okonkwo was a character that oftentimes took it too far. In one point in the novel he badly beat one of his wives, Ojiugo, during the sacred week. During this time no one in the tribe is to commit such acts, as it is a time for peace. By beating his wife, he defied the gods and was forced to offer up animal sacrifices and payment to them. This one of Okonkwo's major character flaws, he is stubborn and self-righteous, and wishes to answer to nobody but himself. This even leads to eventual fate, when he refuses to join the Christians when most everyone else of the tribe gave in to their ideas.

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Okonkwo in the end decided to hang himself rather then give up his `freedom' to the white man. Even in his death he defied the gods of his tribe, knowing that he would receive no burial and his body be cast into the evil forest. Rather then accepting defeat and working together with his tribe to bring about change, he chose death and eternity roaming the earth as a lost/evil soul. He had lost his chance to regain back his authority and respect in the community after he was cast out of the clan for accidentally killing a member of the community. Upon his return to Umuofia he expected to pick up where he left off, his crops to blossom, his daughters to marry and his past deeds be forgotten. But it turned out to be a harder struggle then he imagined.

 

The novel itself was a great story, full of colorful characters and a supernatural outlook. The style was very simple and oftentimes I found it read like a children's book. This being said it wasn't a challenging read. Aside from the complex names of the communities and its people, the language was very clear and simple. The most interesting aspect of the novel that drew me into the story were the descriptions of their complex religious and spiritual beliefs. I found it very interesting to learn how they worshipped all these different gods, and ultimately what these gods represented. Chinua Achebe did a great job in breaking down the language barriers of English and Ibo.

 

Work Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Ed. Alfred A. Knopf. Germany: GGP Media, Pössneck,1958.

 
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