Title and Bibliographic Citation:
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996.
Things fall apart is a book written by Chinua Achebe to serve the purpose of answering inaccurate stereotypes which colonial countries have about Africans. Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian born author who is widely known and recognized as the father of African literature. He was born on November 16, 1930, in Ogidi, a large village in Nigeria and recently passed away on March 21st 2013 at the age of 82 years old. He was the child of a protestant missionary and received early education in English. His upbringing was multicultural where he got to understand some of the cultural aspects ...view middle of the document...
Things fall apart is set in the 1890’s. It describes the rivalry between the colonial government in Nigeria and the traditional culture of the Igbo people. However the book starts with an introductory note about the culture of the Igbo people of Umofia. Umofia is a clan, a lower Nigerian tribe consisting of nine connected villages. The protagonist of the book is Okwonkwo, a wealthy and respected warrior in the clan who is haunted by the actions of his father, Unoka, who died in disrepute. Determined to be different from his father Okwonkwo struggles to become a clansman, a warrior and family provider who will stop at nothing to make sure he earns his respect from the clan.
Okwonkwo was known to be a very rational man with a hot temper, and chauvinistic behavior towards women with whom he constantly associated with weakness. It was this kind of behavior that brought troubles to his homestead when he accidentally killed a kinsman at the funeral of his fellow clansman and personal confidant. As a punishment to this heinous act the community sends Okwonkwo and his family to a 7 year exile and his homestead has to be completely burnt to the ground. Okwonkwo then gathers his family and personal belongings and leaves for his mother’s natal village to start a new life. Although Okwonkwo is disappointed by his misfortunes he cherishes the day when he will go back to his village and reclaim his lost glory.
It is at this point in time during his exile that Okwonkwo receives the news of missionaries setting foot in nearby villages only to be brutally attacked by the inhabitants and bringing an untimely destruction to the village through retaliatory attacks from the white men. Soon afterwards a different batch of missionaries come to visit the village where Okwonkwo was residing, preaching peace and urging inhabitants to abandon their culture as it was inhuman. The leader of the missionaries Mr. Brown is described to be a man full of compromise and benevolence who does not want to impose Christianity on the natives. However he falls sick and is replaced by a rather strict reverend, Mr. Smith who is a stereotypic European and believes all natives should convert. Mr. Smith’s nature triggers confusion in interpretation leading to miscommunication and causing the agitated natives to burn a church to the ground.
The district commissioner orders a meeting with the clansmen to resolve the matter, only for him to arrest the clansmen and torture and detain them. The clansmen are then released from detainment and go ahead to organize a clan meeting but messengers are sent to inform the clansmen to desist. This chain of events causes Okwonkwo – partly driven by his rationality and motivation to attain his lost glory - to react with anger killing one of the messengers while expecting the natives to join in and start an uprising. Unfortunately the natives refuse to join in and Okwonkwo goes home a disappointed man where he hangs himself to death. The elders claim...