Colonialism and Independence in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

Colonialism and Independence in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

Length: 867 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

Things Fall Apart - Colonialism and Independence



"Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The Falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."

~W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"


This excerpt is almost a summary of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Things Fall Apart is a novel about nineteenth century Nigeria, before colonialism and the granting of independence. It is a story of a great wrestler and elder of a Nigerian clan comprised of several villages. It tells about his life from start to finish in great detail. Towards the end of the novel, the reader is introduced to colonialism. This colonialism is what the anarchy is the above quote is referring to. The falcon represents the young generation of the clan; the falconer represents the elders. This is a story of how things really do fall apart. The story is centered around Okonkwo, a great wrestler and elder of the clan. He is the son of an indolent man, who was constantly in debt. Okonkwo's father was often referred to as a woman, which was a great insult. Growing up, Okonkwo develops a phobia of becoming his father, and does everything is his power not to. With this phobia came an abominable stubbornness. His first step in becoming a "real man" (opposed to his father) was to prove his strength, in doing so he became the great wrestler of his clan. Doing so earned him a lot of accolades and honours. He earned a lot of land, and married three different wives. However, with all of his fame and fortune, he was unable to escape his internal conflicts due to his stubbornness and his becoming frustrated easily. One example of this was when a young male warrior and a young virgin girl were sent to Okonkwo's village in exchange (as a sacrifice) for a heinous crime committed against his clan. This was a crime that otherwise would have resulted in an all out war; a war which Okonkwo's clan and village would have earned an easy victory. The young boy is sent to live with Okonkwo and his family for quite some time. During this time Okonkwo becomes very attached to him, so attached that it seems as if the boy is one of his own.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Colonialism and Independence in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart." 22 Oct 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

- The voice of Africa has evolved over the decades. There was a time when the writings and the teachings of Africa Society and culture came from the European writers given their side of the story only. Colonial and Post Colonial Literature has taught us that there is always another voice and another side of a story. Literature from Africa at one point had no voice for itself. Colonial Literature is the writing and studies of the native cultures and societies of Africa. This is a time when the European nations conquered and controlled Africa....   [tags: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Colonialism]

Research Papers
1900 words (5.4 pages)

Colonialism and Independence in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

- Things Fall Apart - Colonialism and Independence "Turning and turning in the widening gyre The Falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." ~W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming" This excerpt is almost a summary of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Things Fall Apart is a novel about nineteenth century Nigeria, before colonialism and the granting of independence. It is a story of a great wrestler and elder of a Nigerian clan comprised of several villages....   [tags: Things Fall Apart essays]

Free Essays
867 words (2.5 pages)

The Arrow Of God : A Traditional Social, Political, And Religious Structure

- Arrow of God is set among the Igbo people of southern Nigeria a few years after the First World War. Though the British had claimed colonial rule over the Igbo land in 1885, expeditions to subdue individual Igbo villages were still being undertaken amidst the First World War. The fictional villages of Umuaro in the novel have had little interactions with the colonial power which claims to rule them before the beginning of the novel and although they have been exposed to Christianity and other aspects of European society retain a traditional social, political, and religious structure....   [tags: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Colonialism]

Research Papers
1353 words (3.9 pages)

Things Fall Apart and The Lover Essay

- In his novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe responds to European colonialism. He portrays the struggle between convention and conversion in addition to struggle between race and colonial power. Within her novel The Lover, Marguerite Duras reformulates this idea of colonialism. Duras switches the power roles associated with colonialism through her modification of traditional precepts of race and class. Chinua Achebe’s novel is a candid response to European colonialism and its effects upon traditional African culture....   [tags: Achebe and Duras, colonialism]

Research Papers
851 words (2.4 pages)

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay

- Chinua Achebe is a well known contemporary writer from Africa. In his first novel, Things Fall Apart, deals with the conflict of cultures and the violent changes and values brought upon by the British colonialism of Nigeria. Critics say that Achebe book “Things Fall Apart” was influenced by Yeats’s view of history and time in his poem, “The Second Coming” and his use of Irish Folklore. A.G. Stock commented that Achebe was influenced by Yeats’s use of Irish legends to produce his understanding of the chronological process....   [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]

Research Papers
1699 words (4.9 pages)

Essay about Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart And The Great Gatsby

- In Things Fall Apart and The Great Gatsby, Chinua Achebe and F. Scott Fitzgerald discuss, in a historical context, the decline, and furthermore, the impending collapse of established societies, specifically: Igboland and America. Achebe’s eponymous motif, that of “things fall[ing] apart,” is ingrained in both novels, as their respective authors discuss the “widening gyre” of chaos that may bring even the greatest of individuals and societies to their insignificant demise. Although the threat of European Colonialism is introduced to the Igbo people in Things Fall Apart, Achebe argues - through his development of Okonkwo - that perhaps the Igbo culture was already diminishing prior to the arri...   [tags: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Igbo people]

Research Papers
1862 words (5.3 pages)

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay examples

- Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart The last chapter of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" concludes with the sentence: "He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger." This refers to the District Commissioner's chosen title for a book he has written that would have the African people, the Igbo tribe specifically, as the main subject. From the title itself, one can say that the writer has an unfavorable bias against his subject....   [tags: Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart]

Research Papers
1060 words (3 pages)

Colonialism Of A Civilized Culture Essay

- Colonialism of a Civilized Culture Ian Smith, a British politician, once said, “I would say colonialism is a wonderful thing. It spread civilization to Africa. Before it they had no written language, no wheel as we know it, no schools, no hospitals, not even normal clothing.” Although many people believed in the benefits of colonialism in the past, people now have changing opinions after learning the stories told by the Africans. Chinua Achebe wrote a novel, Things Fall Apart, in which Okonkwo, a Nigerian native, and his Igbo clan deals with white men trying to colonize, or pacify and control, the Igbo clan in the 1900’s....   [tags: Igbo people, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe]

Research Papers
904 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on The Two Faces of Reality in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

- The dark and mysterious black hole that is the unknown may often lead to false assumptions concerning what is foreign or distant from personal realities, creating the risk of spawning offensive racial stereotypes that marginalize the truth and result in widespread belief in falsehood. Chinua Achebe looks to combat this phenomenon through his writing in Things Fall Apart, as he narrates the story of Okonkwo and his village. The novel challenges stereotypical characteristics attributed to Africa and its people by offering an insider’s perspective on the complexity of Ibo society and colonialism....   [tags: stereotypical, culture, colonialism]

Research Papers
845 words (2.4 pages)

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay

- Post colonialism deals with cultural identity in colonized societies and the ways in which writers articulate that identity. Things Fall Apart is a good novel that serves as a reminder of what Nigeria once was. It shows how a society can deal with change, how change affects the individuals of that society, and how delicate a change can be; so much so that the people themselves are surprised at the change. Things Fall Apart is an English novel by the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe which was published in 1957....   [tags: things fall apart, chinua achebe]

Research Papers
3008 words (8.6 pages)

Related Searches

However, when the time comes for the sacrifice of the boy to be made, the other elders excuse Okonkwo from the "hunting trip." Yet, because of Okonkwo's hubris and fear of looking like a woman, he is determined to go on the mission. Okonkwo's determination wouldn't have been so bad, but he worsened the situation by making the first strike on his "son" and then proceeded to watch the other elders brutally massacre the little body. Achebe does this to let the reader know of the significance of the gender roles among the Ibo people, and to alert the reader to the types of sacrifices and the types of cultures that are experienced among the Ibo people.


Later on in the story Okonkwo really pays for his stubbornness. During a large gathering in the center of Umuofia (Okonkwo's village), he shoots his gun off into the air. The action had a very tragic reaction. In reaction, the stray bullet fell down from the sky and struck an innocent bystander. This was an accident of fatal consequences. The bullet ended up killing the unsuspecting civilian. This incident resulted in the exile of Okonkwo and his family to his motherland for seven years. Things took a drastic turn for the worse while Okonkwo was absent from his village, resulting in a return to a place he barely knew.


During part one of the story, Achebe takes the reader through the daily lives of the Ibo people. It is not until part two that the reader is introduced to the European missionaries. The purpose of Achebe's waiting until part two to introduce that missionaries was to wait and immerse the reader into the everyday life of the Ibo people, so he or she could feel as though he or she was a part of the clan, then the author shifts the momentum of the story. Part two displays the affect the societal changes have on the members of the Ibo clan. The author concentrates the attention on the conflict between the people of Umuofia (Okonkwo's village) and the Christian missionaries. The missionaries succeed in taking over Umuofia and transforming the once Ibo tribe in a Christian one. As a result, Okonkwo is so distraught with the result of his village he ends up committing suicide.


Things Fall Apart is a novel displaying the effects colonialism plays on a region. It was published and released at the time when Nigeria was acquiring their independence. It serves as a reminder to the people of Nigeria of their heritage and of what once was. It is an accurate display of how society deals with change; the affect change has on individuals, and the harm a resistance to inevitable change plays on a village. If only the falcon could have heard the falconer, maybe things would not have fallen apart.


Return to