Things fall apart
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Things Fall Apart. Chinua Achebe 1958. Last modified on 05/5/1998 . Basic Ideas in Achebe’s Novels.

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Things Fall Apart

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Things fall apart

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe

1958


Things fall apart

Last modified on 05/5/1998 

Basic Ideas in Achebe’s Novels

Things Fall Apart- Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart is Chinua Achebe’s response to inaccurate portrayals of African civilization by British writers. The novel reiterates how colonization by European missionaries changed Igbo society after Nigeria was claimed. Leslie Omoara wrote that in this novel we see "only the beginning of the subjection of a people to an alien will".Arrow of God- This novel picks up where Things Fall Apart leaves off, showing further impacts of imperialism. It also illustrates an important theme in Achebe’s novels, in that it reinstates the validity of life without white man’s interference. Achebe’s belief in the importance of dialogue is shown in this novel, as well as others. Almost all novels by Achebe contain proverbs in them.No Longer At Ease- Corruption is the underlying theme in this novel. The novel is a flashback answering one simple question: Why does an educated man succumb to bribes?A Man of the People- This novel is a satire on political motivations in post-independence Nigeria.


Characteristics of ibo igbo

3rd Most populous ethnic group in Nigeria

Lived in villages based on male lineage

All male heads of household were related on father’s side

Villages shared a market and meeting place

Also believed in similar ancestral spirits

Villages arranged in clans of approx. 5,000 people

Characteristics of Ibo (Igbo)


More characteristics

More characteristics

  • Staple crops: yams, cassava, taro, corn, pumpkins, beans

  • High value placed on individual achievements and eloquent speech

  • Palm trees for oil


Things fall apart

Terms

Diala: free adult malesosu: religious outcasts; priests to the godsIbo treated osu with contemptohu: slaves captured in war Chukwu: common god of allChi: each person’s protective ancestral spirit; each person, clan, and village had one


Terms continued

Terms Continued

agbala: woman or man with no title

kotma: court messenger

ogbanje: child who repeatedly dies and returns to its mother’s womb

iwi-uwa: a stone which connects a changeling to the spirit world

cowry shells: money

efulefu: worthless man

foo foo: pounded yam

obi: male living quarters

iba: a fever

ochu: murder

nso-ani: abhorred religious offense

agadi-nwayi: old woman

ekwe: a wooden drum

kola: a a stimulant similar to coffee


Themes

Themes

  • Continual and inevitable change

    No culture is static; refusal to change or to adjust will not stop the process.

  • Balance of traditional masculine and feminine values

    Okonkwo represents a traditional view of masculine power: he is physically strong,

    courageous and hardworking but incapable of compassion and humility

  • The dynamic between the individual and the society

    Individuals derive strength from the societies to which they belong; when that relationship fails Okonkwo, he commits suicide


Things fall apart

Main God Is ChukwuCreator of the worldand of lesser deitiesThe will of the deities is revealed through the oracles.Ani: earth goddesswho regulates life Ugwugwu: Represent the ancestral spiritsChielo: Priestess of Agbala


Themes continued

Themes Continued

  • Irony

    Okonkwo realizes that the hostage boy Ikemefuna is more manly than Nwoye, yet he feels he must kill him to appear manly.

    Proud Okonkwo is banished to the clan of his mother.

    Nwoye rejected Okonkwo just as Okonkwo rejected his own father

  • The novel’s conclusion reduces Okonkwo’s life to a paragraph.

  • Okonkwo’s death is shameful just as his father’s was.


The author

The author

  • Achebe is a social novelist who believed in the social potency of literature

  • Ibo childhood but university educated

  • Taught at several universities in Nigeria, Massachusetts, and Connecticut

  • Paralyzed from auto accident


Significance of tfa

Shows rich, positive view of African culture

Gives Africans a vision of their past

Different from typical African novel told from European point of view

Precursor to pluralism

Affirmation and acceptance of diversity

Title implies cultural breakdown is not limited to Ibo society; it is universal

To refuse to accept change is to be destroyed by it

Significance of TFA


Things fall apart

Style and Point of View

  • Omniscient narrator with deceptively simple style of an African storyteller

  • Use of the fable and proverb to convey symbolic meanings

  • “Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.”

  • Use of foreshadowing and flashback to reveal character and plot


Nigerian politics

1914 Nigeria is created as a political entity

1861: Official British control

1866: Nigeria becomes separate British colony

British traded in palm oil; missionaries converted

Colonialism was ending when TFA was published

Nigeria gained independence in 1960

Nigerian Politics


Modern nigeria

Modern Nigeria

Yoruban (southwestern Nigerian) beaded crowns.

Dancing to tribal Christian rhythms.

A Nigerian farm, possibly similar to that of Okonkwo.


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