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Things Fall Apart

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1993.

Chinua Achebe's novel reflects historical fact as it fictionally portrays traditional African life in a Nigerian village before and after the coming of the white man. The author portrays history in a subjective way, clearly sympathetic to the plight of the Africans, especially the hero Okonkwo, and critical of the imperialistic Europeans. The book is effective in transmitting the injustices of imperialism and the tragedy of the Africans and their way of life in large part because it so realistically portrays both oppressor and oppressed.

Achebe describes the Nigerian village as one defined by traditions and rituals which give the society order and organization. The author gives his novel historical accuracy by including all the prejudices, chauvinism and superstitions of the African people. Achebe is saying that, whatever their problems, the Africans had found a way to live with one another and with the land, and that way was based on traditional beliefs and values which permeated the society.

Okonkwo is a hero, but a flawed hero. We come to know African society through him, and we come to know the impact of the white man's coming on Africa through his tragedy. He gives the title personal significance, because his death symbolizes the falling apart of traditional African life because of the white man's ways. As a heroic character, Okonkwo was doomed by the white man's ways, so he chose to control his own fate by suicide. The reader sympathizes with Okonkwo and feels his plight intimately because Achebe has allowed us to experience with him the loss of his traditional African way of life step by step. We share his frustration and rage and helplessness in the face of a tide of change:

Why, he cried in his heart, should he, Okonkwo, of all people, be cursed with such a son? . . . To abandon the gods of one's father and go about with a lot of effeminate men cluc...

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Things Fall Apart. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:33, May 19, 2019, from