Things Fall Apart: A Review of the Novel by Chinua Achebe
things fall apart, pdf
A young Nigerian boy, Okonkwo, rises to be the number one man in his village only to have it all come crashing down around him. A good example of how pride goes before the fall, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, has come to epitomize the African experience in literature and has been adapted into both film and stage performances multiple times. As you read through this review of the novel, you’ll see why it remains important decades after its initial publication in 1958.
When Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was published in 1958, it quickly rose to international fame and acclaim. Since then, the novel has become one of the most popular works of African literature, and its main character Okonkwo has been reimagined as the basis for Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy of sci-fi books. Although Things Fall Apart was written many years ago, its themes are so universal that they can be applied to almost any time period or culture.
The Nigerian author Chinua Achebe was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2007 and 2008. His most famous work, Things Fall Apart pdf, which was published in 1958, tells the story of Okonkwo, a man who resists Western influences and clings to his own traditions even as they fail him. This particular book falls into the historical fiction genre, as it takes place before, during, and after British colonialism in Nigeria during the late 19th century.
If you want to understand the cultural impact of African literature, you can’t do much better than Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The novel, which was published in 1958, follows Okonkwo, an Igbo man living in the pre-colonial period of Nigeria. It is essentially a coming-of-age story that depicts how tribal customs can sometimes change dramatically due to external factors and how those changes can affect an individual and his community on a personal level.
Nigeria-born author Chinua Achebe published his first novel, Things Fall Apart, in 1958, and the book has been incredibly influential in literary circles ever since. The story is all about a man known as Okonkwo and his transition from a respected tribal leader to a rejected outcast, which can be read as an allegory for the transition of traditional African culture to the forces of colonialism that came with Westernization in the 1800s.
The Beginning of the End
At first glance, Things Fall Apart doesn’t seem like a novel about death. The first several chapters describe Igbo life and culture with an air of reverence, but at some point, that respect is yanked away when you realize what’s about to happen: It’s a prequel to No Longer at Ease, one of Nigeria’s first novels. The entire final half of Things (which was written third) deals with Okonkwo’s fall from grace. Is it possible for a writer to start at the beginning and end in completely different places? If that sounds too complex, don’t worry; Achebe handles it deftly. In fact, he’s known for his fluid writing style, which makes him so accessible to Western readers. For example, here are two sentences from page five: Okonkwo was well-known throughout Umuofia as a man who could wrestle well and beat any challenger easily. That may not sound like much on its own, but put into context—the sentence comes after two paragraphs describing how strong and good at wrestling Okonkwo is—it becomes clear that Achebe isn’t just telling us something; he’s showing us through action. In other words, while reading Things Fall Apart, we get to see exactly why people fear their tribal leader so much. We get a sense of his power through his ability to beat others physically.
Early in Things Fall Apart, Achebe brilliantly introduces us to a character who embodies all that is both admirable and deplorable about being a man in Nigeria. He was the type of man that could single-handedly clear a building filled with armed robbers and then spent his evening playing the flute on his balcony (Ch. 1). But Okonkwo also carried deep emotional wounds from his past, which eventually brought him down. Achebe clearly intended for Things Fall Apart pdf to be an insightful reflection on what it means to be a man and not just an entertaining read. But why did Okonkwo fail? And why are other men like him so quick to fall? The following review will attempt to answer those questions.
The End of Life as He Knew It
In a scene that is as painful as it is devastating, Okonkwo comes home one day to find that his three wives have taken all their belongings and left. The wives, who had been mistreated throughout their marriage, have reached their breaking point. Though he begs for them to return, they refuse, vowing never to enter his hut again. This scene reveals just how far Okonkwo has fallen from grace and helps set up his battle with white men, which is a major part of Things Fall Apart. Even though he is more in tune with modern ideas than many others are, there’s no getting around his firmly held traditional values; however much it pains him to do so, he cannot let go. Unfortunately, when faced with something as foreign as Christianity or even English culture, Okonkwo doesn’t know how to deal with it and instead lashes out violently. He would rather die fighting than give up what he knows best.
Okonkwo, Great Manhood, and Society
The title is one of Things Fall Apart’s many ironic statements. By definition, a great man is someone who stands above others; yet Okonkwo is defined in comparison to other men. As readers watch him dominate clan meetings and rely on his strength to marry well, they are led to believe that greatness comes from things like these—and that being a great man means working hard, being recognized as an influential figure in your society, and marrying a woman better than yourself.
The Fate of Christianity in Africa
Things Fall Apart is among those few awesome books you can’t seem to stop thinking about even when you’re not reading it. And once you do put it down, you find yourself dwelling on themes and events long after your last page-turn. The title itself suggests something bigger than a novel, something that rises above individual lives and events because things do fall apart in literature as they do in life. Things become undone and dismantled until there is nothing left but a memory or two, half-truths whispered from lips that were never meant to share them anyway. The fact that these stories are told at all—especially here in Africa—is remarkable. In many places around the world, people have forgotten their own histories; their stories have been lost or stolen away by others who took what was theirs and twisted it into something unrecognizable. It takes great courage to remember our own history, especially when we know how easy it is for someone else to rewrite our story for us. But Chinua Achebe remembers his own story with such clarity that he has no choice but to tell it again and again and again, hoping against hope that someday we will finally hear him over all those other voices drowning out his truth.
Closure in Things Fall Apart pdf?
The ending of Things Fall Apart is abrupt and unsatisfying. After Okonkwo’s death, there is no closure for any character, nor is there any denouement. While novelists often choose to end their books without resolution in order to leave an open-ended narrative that prompts readers to reflect on its themes (the American author William Faulkner famously said that a writer should leave his audience with a rootless name in their mouths), it may have been more effective for Achebe to tie up loose ends after bringing such high drama and tension to the conclusion. Instead, readers are left feeling a little ripped off. It would have also been helpful if he had explored Nwoye’s feelings about returning to Umuofia and confronting his father’s killers; however, Nwoye’s return seems tacked on at the last minute. As readers, we never get a sense of how Nwoye feels about killing Ikemefuna or returning home—and whether he believes that those actions were justified or not. Readers do not know what happens to him once he returns home, except that he leaves Igbo land soon afterwards. Perhaps if Achebe had followed through with these plot lines instead of abruptly concluding them, Things Fall Apart would be viewed as a stronger work today.
Historical Accuracy and Final Thoughts on Chinua Achebe
As a Nigerian-American growing up in New York City, I was always told that I should read Things Fall Apart and that it was my African duty to do so. I never really understood why, but I guess as a Nigerian-American, you have to read Things Fall Apart because—well—you know, things fall apart. However, when reading through Achebe’s masterpiece, it was clear that he had not only a deep understanding of his culture but also a good understanding of what made his characters tick. It is amazing how many times Things Fall Apart can be applied to our own lives. In an age where technology is at an all-time high, we are able to connect with people from around the world and share information more than ever before. This connection has helped us grow as a species and learn about each other’s cultures, traditions, etc., but at times we may lose touch with our roots. Reading Things Fall Apart reminded me of my roots and where I came from; it taught me about things that happened in Nigeria before I was born; it taught me about things that still happen today; most importantly, though, it showed me how people lived back then (and now) and gave me insight into their struggles. If you haven’t read Things Fall Apart yet, then definitely pick up a copy! You won’t regret it!