Things Fall Apart Novel Analysis

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Aug. 17, 2009

Ms. Hattabaugh

I.B. English HL 1

Novel Analysis

1. Title: The title of the novel is Things Fall Apart. The title gives foreshadowing details of the book. Things falling apart is a common theme through the entire novel. At the beginning, Okonkwo is the one of the most famous in his village because he threw “The Cat” in wrestling. Though, at the end Okonkwo commits the worst disgrace possible, he kills himself. The title also describes what happens to the tribe’s religion. As Western Civilization begins to colonize the African tribes, the African’s culture diminishes. Soon many Africans have left their own religion and gods to become Christians. Many of the Africans lose their own values and begin to value the customs of Western culture. The title is also very simple and mysterious. Other book’s titles are normally an object or saying from the book, but Things Fall Apart is never talked about or brought up in the novel. The reader is forced to wonder what falls apart or what this title has to do with the book. Things Fall Apart is basically the center of the story.  Achebe took the title of his book from "The Second Coming" (wr. 1919; pub. 1921), by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939; Irish). The poem is very similar to Okonkwo’s life and it makes sense that Achebe would use the line “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;” (Yeat 3). Okonkwo is too high in power and wealth and he can’t hold those things forever. He begins to lose everything that he has worked so hard to have. He first loses Ikemefuna and becomes depressed and angry, and then he gets exiled to another village after killing a man on accident. Nwoye leave’s him after to become a member of the church and after coming back to Umuofia, he kills a representative for the Missionary and kills himself out of fear. As it says in the poem, Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Okonkwo can’t hold forever, so Things Fall Apart.

2. Biographical Sketch: Chinua Achebe or, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, was born November 16th, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. His father, Isaiah, was a Protestant teacher in a missionary school. Chinua was raised religious which probably gave him the idea of the white men converting the

Villages’ many religions. Achebe attended University in Ibadan to 1953 and received a B.A. in English from the University of London. Originally, Achebe studied Medicine but it became too hard and he switched to English. If Achebe had not switched to majoring in English, we would probably not have his literary works. A friend later convinced him to teach English and the school he taught at was built on land where the locals believed the spirits were “unfriendly”. This is how Achebe found the idea of the “Evil Forest” from Things Fall Apart. Things fall apart was published in 1958. The novel was influenced by Achebe’s early life, including the dilemmas of religion and culture shift in Africa. His first book was an instant success and was even turned into a play. Many authors do not become a successful, famous writer on their first, second or even third book, Achebe did. He married Christie Okoli and had four children together as he continued to write books. Other novels include No Longer at ease (1960), Arrow of God (1966) and Anthills of the Savanna (1987). On Achebe’s sixtieth birthday, he was in a car accident and his legs are now paralyzed. Achebe is now 79 years old and teaching at Bard College in New York. Chinua Achebe has become one of the most influential writers in Africa. His novels have become accepted in Western Culture without his writing being influenced with the trends of western culture. Achebe will be one of the classic African writers forever.

3. Themes: A major theme in Things Fall Apart is things fall apart. As previously talked apart, one of the major conflicts with Okonkwo’s life is everything around is falling apart. “Okonkwo was clearly cut for great things. He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife.”(Achebe 8) This is taken from the first chapter of the book. Okonkwo’s life could not get any better; he had the successful farm, wives and children but as his years progress, he loses a lot of that wealth. By the last chapter of the novel, Okonkwo has lost his first born son Nwoye, his religion, and his village. Okonkwo has even committed suicide, an act considered to be an abomination in his village; he cannot even be properly buried. The theme of things falling apart reoccurs throughout the entire book.

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Another theme in Things Fall Apart is the problem of Western colonization. During Okonkwo’s exile, rumors begin to spread of these white people on iron horses and the destruction they caused in another village. Finally white people come to the other villages to build churches and try to get others to follow their strange religion. Western colonization is has its pros and cons. For example, without colonization, some people wouldn’t be able to enjoy the comforts we have today. But Western colonization also destroys ethnic cultures. In the novel, many people begin to follow this taboo religion which divides the ...

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