Investigating Why The Book Is Entitled Things Fall Apart

1353 words - 5 pages

Title Analysis of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

I believe that the title Things Fall Apart refers to the fact that
without proper balance, things do fall apart. The notion of balance in
the novel is an important theme throughout the book. Beginning with
the excerpt from Yeats' poem, The Second Coming, the concept of
balance is stressed as important; for without balance, order is lost.
In the novel, there is a system of balance, which the Ibo culture
seems to depend upon. It is when this system is upset that "things
fall apart." Okonkwo, the Ibo religion, and ultimately, the Ibos'
autonomy were brought to their demise by an extreme imbalance between
their male and female aspects. These male and female aspects can be
generally described as the external, physical strength of the male,
and the internal, passive and nurturing strength of the female. It was
an imbalance toward the male side that led to the destruction of the
people and their culture.

Okonkwo, the main character in the book, was the son of Unoka, who was
a loafer. Unoka was too lazy to go out and plant crops on new, fertile
land, preferring to stay at home playing his flute, drinking palm
wine, and making merry with the neighbors. He had to borrow money in
order to maintain this lifestyle, and was never able to pay it back.
Okonkwo perceived this trait as an imbalance toward the female side in
his father's character; staying at home and not using one's strength
to provide for the family is what a woman does. In reaction, Okonkwo
completely rejected his father, and also his own feminine side. It was
this deep-rooted antipathy toward anything considered weak or feminine
that played a key role in his eventual downfall. He became a great
wrestler and warrior in his tribe, and began providing for his family
at a very young age, while at the same time starting new farms and
beginning to amass wealth. He was very successful, soon becoming one
of the leaders of his tribe, with many wives and children. His big
ambition was to become one of the powerful elders of the tribe, for
what could be manlier than that?

Unfortunately, everything was not perfect. His son, Nwoye, seemed to
not be showing the characteristics of a real man. He preferred to stay
with his mother, listening to women's stories, rather than to listen
to his father's tales of battle and victory. Later, when missionaries
came to the tribe, Nwoye was attracted to their Christian religion
because of its unconditional acceptance of everyone, much like a
mother's unconditional love. Of this, Okonkwo reflects that "fire
begets ashes"; where fire is the powerful, destructive, male force,
and ashes the inert, weak, female force. Okonkwo is ultimately
defeated when he realizes that his physical strength alone is not
powerful enough to overcome the white man's...

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