Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Essay

2063 words - 8 pages

Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” chronicles the life of Okonkwo, a strong man whose existence is dominated by fear and anger, and the Ibo tribe, a people deeply rooted in cultural belief and tradition. As events unfold, Okonkwo’s carefully constructed world and the Ibo way of life collapses. The story of Okonkwo’s fall from a respected and feared leader of the Ibo tribe to an outcast who dies in disgrace dramatizes his inability to evolve beyond his personal beliefs, affecting the entire Ibo tribe beyond measure. The “things” that fall apart in Achebe’s novel are Okonkwo’s life – his ambition, dreams, family unity and material wealth – and the Ibo way of life – their beliefs, culture and values.
The greatest force that compelled Okonkwo to succeed was his fierce desire to be nothing like his father, resulting in his deep seated fear of failure and weakness. Thus, Okonkwo bred a furious temper, abusing his wives and children, and ruled his home harshly and without benevolent emotion. “Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness” (Achebe, 1958, p. 13, para. 1). His father, Unoka, was considered a failure by Ibo standards; labeled agbala (“agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title” (Achebe, 1958, p. 13, para. 1), he was regarded by his village, Umuofia, as lazy and effeminate; Unoka died heavily in debt and had taken no tribal titles in his lifetime. Okonkwo was ashamed of Unoka, and was obsessed with becoming the antithesis of him; this obsession would ultimately prove to be a tragic character flaw for Okonkwo and serve as the foundation not only for his success, but also for his demise.
In an unfortunate incident at the market in Mbaino, one of Umuofia’s female tribe members is killed by a neighboring clan and, in accordance with Ibo custom, an ultimatum was dispatched: “choose between war on the one hand, and on the other the offer of a young man and a virgin as compensation” (Achebe, 1958, p. 11, para. 2). Because the village of Umuofia is widely feared, Mbaino peacefully presents a fifteen year old boy and a virgin to Umuofia as retribution for the killing, and it is decided the boy, Ikemefuna, will stay with Okonkwo until the elders decide his fate. “Ikemefuna's stay in Okonkwo's home was supposed to be a temporary arrangement -- until the clan decided what was to be done with him -- but he ended up living as a member of the family for three years” (Akwani, 2011, para. 11). Okonkwo places Ikemefuna in the home of his most senior wife, who is also the mother of Okonkwo’s oldest son, Nwoye.
Ikemefuna is very well-liked by Okonkwo and his family, and becomes a mentor and best friend to Nwoye. Okonkwo feels dismay that Nwoye is taking on the torpid characteristics of his grandfather, Unoka, and is quite pleased that Nwoye is thriving and maturing under Ikemefuna’s guidance. ...

Find Another Essay On Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Unique Cultures in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

1995 words - 8 pages Unique Cultures in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart     There are a variety of cultures in this world and each culture is unique. Usually when one was born and raised in a certain culture, that person may adapt to that culture for a period of time. It is sometimes difficult to look into someone else’s culture, and understand their culture. Sometimes one must keep an open mind, study the culture

The Inflexibility and Hubris of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

951 words - 4 pages The Inflexibility and Hubris of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart This novel is the definitive tragic model about the dissolution of the African Ibo culture by Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo, a great and heroic leader, is doomed by his inflexibility and hubris. He is driven by fear of failure. He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father. Unoka, for that was his father's name, had

Tragedy in Colonial Africa by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

1388 words - 6 pages “darkness,” both Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart draw upon contrasting viewpoints and cultures, as well as an ironic play of “darkness” between the Europeans and the Africans, to construe the tragedy unfolding in Colonial Africa. To begin comparing and contrasting these two pieces of literature, one must first examine the authors. Conrad was a white European, educated, and was a sailor who sailed up the

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1413 words - 6 pages 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

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1067 words - 5 pages elderly. Although the social structure played an essential role in balancing life in the society, it played a more significant role in the demise of the Igbo community. Because of their rigid structure, the people isolated the osu, or the outcasts, outside their society. Due to their actions, this led the osu to convert to the new religion. The Igbo people were not able to cooperate with the new religion that was imposed upon them and eventually led to the rise of disunity.   Works Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: William Heinemann Limited, 1959. Print.

Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"

947 words - 4 pages INTRODUCTION:Chinua Achebe has penned the book "Things Fall Apart" as retaliation against the Western books portraying African cultures and tribal religions as brutal, savage and animalistic. He attempts to portray through his book that the people of the African Igbo tribe are not savages or mindless tribals, they are a people with a history and a culture and a well thought out way of life. He also tries to give a realistic portrayal of the Igbo

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

1126 words - 5 pages The definition of sexism is discrimination on the basis of sex. In many cultures sexism was and still is a controversial topic. In fact, women in America couldn’t even vote until the 1920’s. The abundant masculinity in this novel is not sexism but just how the culture functions. Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart is not sexist towards women; in fact, it shows that women are essential to the Ibo society and posses a great amount of strength

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

1767 words - 7 pages In Chinua Achebe’s Classic 1959 novel Things Fall Apart, we are faced with the foreign ways of the Ibo people of present-day Nigeria. The story is told through the experiences and often times thoughts of protagonist Okonkwo, an imperfect but respected clansman whose fear of appearing weak drives every decision he makes. In the peak of conflict, Okonkwo is exiled for seven years, loses much of the esteem he had gained and finds his bad Chi to be

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

1812 words - 8 pages Fear is like religion which can poison thoughts and bias views before overwhelming and ultimately taking over one’s innocence and morals. In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s reprehensible actions are caused by his fogged view of right and wrong since his life is dominated by a lifelong fear of failure. Okonkwo’s profound fear of failure originated from his failures of his father Unoka, and Okonkwo’s life purpose is to be the

Gender in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1920 words - 8 pages contradictions in relation to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Above all the tribe values physical prowess, it places a great deal of importance on individual achievement, these attributes are in fact intended to ensure the security and permanence of the group. For like most early societies this is a society that is dominated by a passion for survival. Umofia therefore cultivates the notion of the heroic ideal based on physical prowess. The

Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

963 words - 4 pages Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart    Okonkwo, as presented by Chinua Achebe in the novel Things Fall Apart, wished to be revered by all as a man of great wealth, power and control--the antithesis of his father. Okonkwo was driven by the need to exhibit utmost control over himself and others; he was an obsessive and insecure man. Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was "a failure," "a loafer," and "People laughed at him" (1426). This

Similar Essays

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Essay

1737 words - 7 pages , the majority of natives were affected by the political, cultural, religious, and economic changes which are depicted in the Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. The novel primarily focuses on small villages such as Umuofia village in southern Nigeria, and the native’s first and prolonged contacts with the British expansionism or missionaries. In the novel, Achebe depicts the political changes that have occurred from pre-European arrival and post

Power Of Women In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

980 words - 4 pages Power of Women in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart     The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a commanding account about the rise and fall of an African tribe. The powerful narrative depicts the life and customs of the people and how they change through the years. Theere are many different ideas and characters that are preseneted throughout the novel. The depiction of women is one aspect that is of extreme relevance. It can be shown

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Exploring The Ibo Culture

2187 words - 9 pages Marginalization is the social process of being relegated to the fringe of society. One such example of marginalization is the marginalization of women. This paper is an attempt to explore the Ibo culture and to discuss women as a marginalized group in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Things Fall Apart is a 1958 English novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Achebe is indebted to Yeats for the title as it has been taken from Yeats’ poem

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart The Downfall Of The Ibo

2285 words - 9 pages One of Chinua Achebe’s goals in Things Fall Apart is to portray Ibo culture vividly and honestly. Unlike European perspectives of the Africans – such as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness – Achebe’s representation explains intricate customs, rituals, and laws and develops individual characters. Things Fall Apart shows Ibo society to be fully functioning and full of life. However, Achebe maintains his objectivity and avoids giving the Ibo any undue