Things Fall Apart In the book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe is trying to give an explanation of what it is like to live in an African society. The story is about a man named Okonkwo who is a member of the Ibo tribe. Achebe is telling the story of Okonkwo from his childhood till his death. Before I read this book I did not have a very good idea of how people lived in Africa, and the ideas of I did have about life in traditional African societies turned out to be untrue. Achebe did a very good job of illustrating a traditional African society, and by reading this book I now have a much better idea of what life is like in a non-western society.
I think that this was Achebe’s goal in writing this book, to educate people about some of the struggles people have and life in traditional African societies. The title Things Fall Apart is a good choice for a title of this book. The main character, Okonkwo, did not like the way his father lived. He thought that a man should be strong and do typical male tasks. But Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, did not fit mold according to Okonkwo. Okonkwo was ashamed of his father, and told himself that he would make a better life for himself and his family.
Okonkwo was able to do this, he became very successful in the Ibo tribe and had gained a very high standing in the tribe. It was his goal to become an elder in the tribe, and it looked like he was going to achieve that goal. Okonkwo was banished form the tribe for seven years for killing a boy, and was forced to live with his mother’s tribe for the seven years. Okonkwo lost all of his titles and his standing in the Ibo tribe. After the seven years had passed, Okonkwo went back to the Ibo tribe and had to start his live over.
Over the seven years that Okonkwo was away, the Ibo tribe changed a lot. Most of these changes were do to the missionaries which had come to Africa to try to convert people to Christianity. Okonkwo could not accept these changes, and in a rage of anger he killed a clansman. This was the worst crime a man could commit. After Okonkwo did this he realized that there was no hope for redeeming himself and no way that he could become an elder. So he hung himself because he could not live with the fact that he would never regain his standing in the tribe.
He would have most likely been killed for committing this crime anyway. Basically Okonkwo’s life fell apart on him, hence I feel that the title Things Fall Apart is very fitting for this book. I thought that Achebe did a good job at writing this book. After getting into the book I found it very easy to read and follow. It took a while to get use to the names of the people in the book, and the Ibo words and phrases.
I thought that the purpose of this book was not directly stated, but it was implied. The purpose was to show people what it is like growing up in a traditional African Society, and Achebe did a good job a showing that. The book is chronologically organized, starting with Okonkwo as a child and ending with his death. I feel that the audience level for this book would be high school and above. I think that there are a lot of implied messages and ideas that mature readers will pick out easier than younger readers.
I feel that the book is not biased, and I feel represents the African people as well as the white missionaries fairly. So overall I feel that the book was very well written and found it enjoyable to read. I found it ironic that both Okonkwo and his father, Unoka, ended up the same way. Both ended up being put in the evil forest after their death. Unoka ended up in the evil forest because he did from a strange disease, while Okonkwo ended up in the evil forest because he had killed a clansman.
I found this ironic because it seemed the Okonkwo tried to everything different from his father. Okonkwo did not agree with the way Unoka lived, and he told himself that he was not going to live that way. And for the most part his life was completely opposite of his father’s life. Even though they took completely different paths in life, their paths led them to the same place. The reason that the Ibo tribe had changed so much while Okonkwo was in exile for the seven years, was the arrival of the missionaries in Africa. The missionaries accepted people who the Africans believed to be outcasts.
The Africans thought that these people they thought to be outcasts would bring bad luck to the missionaries. They also tried to jinx the missionaries by giving them the evil forest to build their churches. When the missionaries were able to survive in the evil forest with the outcasts, the Africans thought that the god of the missionaries was more powerful than their gods and ancestors. This led many African people to convert to Christianity. Okonkwo could not stand the missionaries, and thought that the Africans should kill them and drive them out of Africa.
But he was the only one in the Ibo tribe who felt this way. He tried to convince his fellow tribesmen to go to way against the missionaries, but the would no. This is what caused Okonkwo to kill the guard, who was a fellow clansman and eventually himself. Another of the main ideas going on in the book Things Fall Apart is the difference between communal aspects and individual aspects in a traditional African society. It seemed to me that there were both some communal aspects and individual aspects in the Ibo tribe.
The community is very important to the survival of the tribe and the people often work together for the betterment of the tribe. There are also individual aspects in the Ibo society. Each person has his own chi, or personal god. This personal god is to watch over a person and protect them. Some people have a stronger chi than others, and they will achieve a higher standing in the society. This is very important to some of the people in the tribe, and Okonkwo is one of those people.
He does a lot to help better the Ibo society, but he also wants to have a high standing in the Ibo society for himself. Overall I think that Chinua Achebe did a good job of painting a picture of a traditional African society. Many people, especially people from western countries, have no idea of what life is like in an African tribe. I would say that the strength of this book was the picture that it painted of the Ibo society. Achebe included several different points of view of live in African society.
The two different points of view that stick out in my mind are that of Okonkwo and Oberika. Oberika is a good friend of Okonkwo, but the two lead very different lifestyles. Okonkwo is very masculine, while Oberika could be considered more feminine. Okonkwo believes that the Ibo tribe needs to go to war with the missionaries and drive them out. Oberika feels otherwise and thinks that the two groups can coexist happily.
Achebe also presented many different issues which are important to African societies. Many of the customs and beliefs that are important to a African tribe were different to me. One of the main beliefs was the belief that twins were considered outcasts and they were put into the evil forest. But I feel that the way African tribes treat a person who kills a clansman is fair. In American society it seems that many people have been somewhat desensitized to murder. It happens so often that people don’t think much about it unless it directly affects them.
In African societies this it the worst crime that a person could commit and will always end up in death for the person who committed the crime. So some of the customs and beliefs in an African society I have a hard time accepting, while others I can easily identify with. From reading this book I learned a lot about what it is like to live in a traditional African society. I must admit that I didn’t know much about African societies before reading this book, and most of what I believed turned out to be false. Many people would consider a society like the Ibo society primitive.
True they might not have many of the technology and conveniencies that we as Westerners have, but do those conveniencies make our lives any better? I do not think that a person should be judged on the number of material possessions they have but what kind of a person they are. Western societies today seem to be very individualistic. Many people seem to look out for themselves and no one else. This is not always true in African societies, many times the community comes before the individual. So I think that there is a lot to be learned from traditional African societies about how to live and how to survive.