THINGS FALL APART. By Chinua Achebe. Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things Fall Apart ; the center cannot. Achebe's Things tr. de Fernando Santos. 5. THINGS FALL APART. [] by. Chinua Achebe. ANCHOR BOOKS. PDF | On Oct 10, , Sankar Ganesan and others published Title of the Book: Things Fall Apart.

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The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others,” writes Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart PDF. Achebe's Things fall apart · Read more · Things fall apart. Read more · Things fall apart · Read more · Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Read more. Achebe's primary purpose of writing the novel is because he wants to educate his readers about the value of his culture as an African. Things Fall Apart provides.

Like Heart of Darkness, Mister Johnson was also quite a popular read; 4 Page its reviews suggest it was a more popular read than Heart of Darkness. Based on the descriptions of Africa and its people by both Conrad and Cary, it comes as no surprise that Achebe and other African writers began to emerge and tell their story of Africa and its people. It is through the insights of Things Fall Apart that the world became more appreciative of Africa and its people and at the same time the truth surrounding the stereotypical ideas that once existed about Africa began to appear in a much clearer light.

Achebe writes Things Fall Apart to encourage his fellow countrymen to take advantage of the educational system that the missionaries introduced to them so as to better their lives. He is determined to take the modern African Literature genre to greater heights as well as to prove to the Europeans the value of the African culture. The novel was published during a period when a lot of writers emerged from Nigeria; among them are Wole Soyinka and Ben Okri.

These writers all play an influential role in modern African Literature, both in their countries, and internationally. Nonetheless, this does not imply that Soyinka and Okri were not successful in their writing careers.

In the writing of Things Fall Apart, Achebe describes the history of Igbo; he does so by describing both the perfections and imperfections of their culture and traditions that made them different from Western cultures. For example, their beliefs in the power of ancestral gods, the sacrifice of young boys, the killing of twins and the oppression of women to name a few. In the novel, the reader is also made aware of the arrival of white missionaries in Umuofia as well as the reactions of Igbo to their arrival.

Although the arrival of the missionaries had some benefits to Igbo, there were also a number of challenges that faced the future of Igbo. I intend to incorporate one critical theory in analysing Things Fall Apart. Postcolonial criticism, for instance, is mainly concerned with literature critiques from countries that are colonies of other countries Tyson Because Achebe originates from Nigeria, a colony of Britain, some of the writing elements he uses in his novels such as language and style are influenced by that.

Reflections on Post-Colonialism Most texts give the definition of colonialism before they define the meaning of the term post- colonialism. Post-colonialism expresses the opposite idea of colonialism. Hence, post-colonialism literature is a consequence of colonialism. A colonised individual is usually forced to follow the culture of their colony regardless if they are against it or not.

Post-colonial writers usually write about how their rich native cultures were destroyed under the power of imperialism. One scholar has suggested that although most countries have gained independence from their colonisers, they are still indirectly subjected in one way or another to the forms of neo- colonial domination Ashcroft et al.

Post-colonialism continues to be a process of hostility and reform. This is seen in the development of new elites in post-colonial nations that are 6 Page often supported by neo-colonial institutions, as is suggested by the development of divisions within these societies that are based on discriminations as varied as race, language or religion.

The literature also aims at inviting the colonised to work together collectively. If they work together and put their differences aside they are surely bound to overcome the pain of losing their culture.

This will enable them to focus on ways that will help preserve the elements of their culture that still exist. However, the literature does not show the colonised as victims of colonialism, but rather it shows that they are confused about their sense of belonging. Most colonised individuals do not know whether to follow their own culture or the culture of the coloniser. Because of this they find themselves combining some of the elements of the two different cultures which make them move back and forth in between their present and past lives, hence their confused sense of belonging.

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This back and forth movement in most instances leads to a miscommunication that can be meaningful. Exposition on the Background of the Novel Things Fall Apart is one of the most influential novels of its time, both on a local and global scale. In order to fully understand the novel and its contents, it is important to look into the history of the novel that led to its publication.

When Nigeria became a colony of Britain in , the country became exposed to the British political structure and its various institutions. Achebe was born in almost a quarter of a century after the British assumed direct control of Nigeria.

It is under these circumstances that Achebe then came to know of both the British culture as well as Nigerian culture. This resulted in the birth of his novel Things Fall Apart.

The change came as a result of his curiosity, as well as the curiosity of other young Africans who were exposed to education, as to why the Westerners have suddenly developed an interest in their land and were now more than ever determined to enlighten it.

In the novel Things Fall Apart the people of Umuofia are separated into two groups immediately following the arrival of the white missionaries in their land.

The first group of people are Igbo followers and the second group of people are followers of the white missionaries. Converts to Christianity choose to abandon their own religion, traditional ways of life and fellow people to follow the white man and his ways. The views about life that the white men have are totally different from the views that the Igbo have. What seems utterly appropriate and acceptable in traditional Igbo culture does not appear so to the white missionaries. They are quick to want to change certain elements of traditional Igbo culture that according to them are inappropriate and unacceptable.

The women of the clan are aware of this and have accepted this ritual; in some cases the first wife can even suggest to her husband to look for a younger wife. The younger wives are also expected to respect the first wife. These women along with their husbands live together in peace and help each other with taking care of the children and other household chores.

However, the white missionaries are against polygamous marriages, based on some scriptures for example, Malachi found in the New Testament that forbid Christians against such an act. For instance, Igbo religion says that twins must be killed because they are a sign of the work of the devil, small boys should be sacrificed to the gods as a sign of peace offerings, and so forth.

However, the fifth commandment teaches believers that only God has the power and authority to decide when the life of man shall end and nobody else. The obvious cultural clash that exists between the white missionaries and Igbo in Things Fall Apart is one that also emerges in The Arrow of God. The people of Umuaro become divided on their own without any external influences; this creates a very strong sense of hatred among them and the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood that once existed is lost.

One of the similarities between these two novels is that both the people of Umuofia and Umuaro are divided as a result of the conflict that is caused by the arrival of white missionaries in their villages. While the division among the people of Umuofia is caused by the influence of the white man the division among the people of Umuaro is not.

Here, Achebe shows the readers that although the missionaries are to be blamed for the destructiveness of their religion to Igbo society, readers should also consider that tribes can also become divided on their own, hence the blame should go both ways and not just to the Europeans. In both novels Achebe uses regionally inflected language to describe the lifestyles of his characters as well as the environment where the plots are set respectively.

Achebe timelessly uses proverbs in these novels both to preserve Igbo culture and language as well as to show their value not only to him, but the entire Igbo community. Throughout the novel Achebe craftily uses his characters to speak in proverbs when they address one another. The use of proverbs is very important in conversations as the Igbo believe them to be a fountain of wisdom and of respect. From the onset of the novel Achebe makes readers aware of the importance of proverbs in conversation.

When Okoye pays Unoka a visit to ask him to settle his debt, and although Unoka is late with the payment, Okoye does not lash out at Unoka about his overdue debt. Rather, the neighbours share a kola nut, give thanks unto the ancestors and then go on to discuss the debt by speaking in proverbs 3.

This maintains good relations between the two neighbours even though they are discussing such an issue that usually causes conflicts between people. He also predicts of the future of Igbo and where they are headed if the white missionaries are to be successful in taking control of Umuofia. With the use of the English language, Achebe is successful in fully detailing the life of Okonkwo who at the beginning of the novel is a very famous young man in all the nine villages of Umuofia.

However, as the novel develops and white missionaries begin arriving in Umuofia along with their government and institutions, Okonkwo who tries to protest the change is in the end buried without respect or dignity and his fame is soon forgotten because of the greatest sin in Igbo religion that he commits by taking away his own life.

One of the main reasons that Things Fall Apart was successful is because of its detailed descriptiveness of Igbo culture as seen from the perspective of its author, who had an insider outsider position as a result of being raised in a Christian household, which meant that he was not allowed to participate in traditional Igbo rituals although he was Igbo Owomoyela Yeats: Things Fall Apart is centered on the life of the protagonist of the novel, Okonkwo.

As the novel develops Okonkwo accidentally kills a man and he and his family are exiled from Umuofia. During his exile white missionaries arrive in Umuofia and change the village. When Okonkwo returns to his village he sees the major transformations that Umuofia has undergone during his exile.

Unhappy with the change, Okonkwo and other villagers come together to drive the white missionaries out of their land. Their efforts are in vain as the missionaries send their messengers to abort the meeting. Okonkwo kills one of the messengers and in shock at his actions the villagers let the other messengers escape. The messengers report back to the missionaries and they take off to bring Okonkwo to justice only to find him dead.

The Europeans became hungry for Africa's natural resources, resulting in their arrival into Africa as well as their hostile takeover of the land. He loved language and music, the flute in particular. He is lazy and miserly, neglecting to take care of his wives and children and even dies with unpaid debts. Okonkwo spends his life trying not to become a failure like his father Unoka. Nwoye is Okonkwo's son, about whom Okonkwo worries, fearing that he will become like Unoka. Similar to Unoka, Nwoye does not subscribe to the traditional Igbo view of masculinity being equated to violence; rather, he prefers the stories of his mother.

Nwoye connects to Ikemefuna, who presents an alternative to Okonkwo's rigid masculinity. He is one of the early converts to Christianity and takes on the Christian name Isaac, an act which Okonkwo views as a final betrayal. Ikemefuna is a boy from the Mbaino tribe. His father murders the wife of an Umuofia man, and in the resulting settlement of the matter, Ikemefuma is put into the care of Okonkwo.

By the decision of Umuofian authorities, Ikemefuna is ultimately killed, an act which Okonkwo does not prevent, and even participates in, lest he seem feminine and weak.

Ikemefuna became very close to Nwoye, and Okonkwo's decision to participate in Ikemefuna's death takes a toll on Okonkwo's relationship with Nwoye.


Ezinma is Okonkwo's favorite daughter, and the only child of his wife Ekwefi. Ezinma, the Crystal Beauty, is very much the antithesis of a normal woman within the culture and Okonkwo routinely remarks that she would've made a much better boy than a girl, even wishing that she had been born as one. Ezinma often contradicts and challenges her father, which wins his adoration, affection, and respect. She is very similar to her father, and this is made apparent when she matures into a beautiful young woman who refuses to marry during her family's exile, instead choosing to help her father regain his place of respect within society.

Obierika is Okonkwo's best friend from Umuofia. He is a strong and powerful man in Umuofia, but unlike Okonkwo, he is a reasoning man and is much less violent and arrogant. Obierika often talks Okonkwo out of making rash decisions, and helps Okonkwo when he is on exile from Umuofia. He fully understands the changes going on in their society, and that their clan no longer had the unity it did before the white man appeared in Umuofia.

Obierika's son, Maduka, is greatly admired by Okonkwo for his wrestling prowess, which in Okonkwo's opinion is something his own son, Nwoye lacks. Obierika is considered the voice of reason in the book, and questions certain parts of their culture, such as the necessity to exile Okonkwo after he unintentionally kills a boy.

Ogbuefi Ezeudu is one of the elders of Umuofia. He is regarded as very wise, and gives Okonkwo good advice. He is the one who brings Okonkwo the message from the Oracle that Ikemefuna should be killed, but he also warns Okonkwo not to participate in the boy's execution, since Ikemefuna calls Okonkwo "father", a warning Okonkwo does not heed.

At Ezeudu's funeral, Okonkwo's gun misfires, accidentally killing the dead elder's son, for which Okonkwo and his family go into exile. Brown is a white man who comes to Umuofia. Unlike most Europeans portrayed in the novel, he shows kindness and compassion towards the villagers, thereby earning their love and respect.

He eventually develops an illness that leads to his death. The title is a quotation from " The Second Coming ", a poem by W. Most of the story takes place in the fictional village of Iguedo, which is in the Umuofia clan.

Umuofia is located west of the actual city of Onitsha , on the east bank of the Niger River in Nigeria. The events of the novel unfold in the s. The customs described in the novel mirror those of the actual Onitsha people, who lived near Ogidi, and with whom Achebe was familiar. Within forty years of the arrival of the British, by the time Achebe was born in , the missionaries were well established. He lived in the British culture but he refused to change his Igbo name Chinua to Albert. Achebe's father was among the first to be converted in Ogidi, around the turn of the century.

Achebe himself was an orphan raised by his grandfather. His grandfather, far from opposing Achebe's conversion to Christianity, allowed Achebe's Christian marriage to be celebrated in his compound.

In a interview with The Paris Review , Achebe said, "the novel form seems to go with the English language.


There is a problem with the Igbo language. It suffers from a very serious inheritance which it received at the beginning of this century from the Anglican mission.

They sent out a missionary by the name of Dennis. Archdeacon Dennis. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you p. In the Igbo system the earth goddess acts as a counterbalance to male strength. If the Igbos have not achieved the ideal balance of male and fe- male, they d o seek to limit a male's abuse of his control over the female, and there are even indications that elements in the society see their wives as equals.

While the tribe does denigrate the womanly by derisively call- ing fear and sensitivity agbala, or "woman," it also includes men like Ndulue who treat their wives as equals: Ndulue and his wife were al- ways said to be of "one mind," and Ndulue "could not do anything without telling her" p. Achebe suggests that not only does Ndulue's example exist, but it is also passed on in a song about this great warrior whom the rest of the tribe can admire p.

His harshness be- comes sacrilege.

During the Week of Peace he will not stop beating his wife, "not even for fear of a goddess" p. And Obierika sees Okonkwo's part in Ikemefuna's death as a crime against the Earth: Ultimately, Okonkwo's destruction is tragic because, although it is brought about by the unjust system of the white man, Okonkwo is responsible in part because of his defiance of the sacred laws of the clan.

As Robert Wren asserts, ozo re- quires that every ambitious man of wealth periodically distribute his excess , In order to take any of the titles of the clan, a man has to give up a portion of his wealth to the clan. As Achebe explains in Arrow of God, long ago there had been a fifth title among the Igbos of Umuaro-the title of king: But the conditions for its attainment had been so severe that no man had ever taken it, one of the conditions being that the man aspiring to be king must first pay the debts of every man and every woman in Umuaro , Along with the representation of the viability of Igbo institu- tions in a world without Europeans, Achebe gives a sense of the beauty of Igbo art, poetry and music by showing how it is interwoven with the most important institutions of the clan and by creating a sense of the Igbo language through his own use of English.

The decorating of walls and bodies or the shaving of hair in "beautiful patterns" recurs in vari- ous ceremonies. Music and dancing are a part of Igbo rituals which call for talent such as that of Obiozo Ezikolo, king of all the drums.

Stories become the means of inciting men to strength, of teaching about the gods, and of generally passing on the culture. Okonkwo tells "masculine stories of violence and bloodshed," but the mothers talk of the tor- toise's "wily ways," the techniques available to the weak, and of the pity of the gods pp.

Things Fall Apart

To show how conversation is respected, Achebe throughout illustrates how careful the Igbos are in their choice of words so that they can make a point without offending their listener or listeners. As Achebe says, for the Igbos "proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten" p.

Thus, for example, Unoka refuses to pay Okoye by asserting that "the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them1'-in other words, Unoka will pay his large debts before his small ones p. Achebe himself uses proverbs to explain his culture: And the proverbs help to establish the morality on which the tribe depends. Most villagers, for example, though respecting industry and success, dislike the pride which causes a man like Okonkwo to deal brusquely with other men: In addition to portraying the dignity of Igbo village life, Achebe makes it clear that the Igbos did not need the white man to carry them into the modern world.

Within the Igbo system change and progress were possible. When old customs were ineffective, they were gradually discarded. Formerly the punishment for breaking the Week of Peace was not so mild as that meted out to Okonkwo, an offering to Ani.

Things Fall Apart 50th Anniversary Edition

But after a while this custom was stopped be- cause it spoiled the peace which it was meant to preserve" p. Such changes were likely to be brought about by men who, like Obierika, "thought about things," such as why a man should suffer for an inad- vertent offense or why twins should be thrown away pp.

Although Achebe has the Igbo culture meet certain standards, he does not idealize the past. Probably the most troubling aspect of Igbo culture for modern democrats is the law that requires the killing of Ikemefuna for the sins of his clan.

Achebe's description of Ikemefuna makes him a sympathetic character, and it is difficult not to side with Nwoye in rebelling against this act. Nevertheless, Igbo history does not seem so different from that of the British who think they are civi- lizing the natives. A form of the principle of an eye for an eye is involved in Mbaino's giving Mbanta a young virgin and a young man to replace the "daughter of Mbanta" killed in Mbaino.

It is the Old Testament principle cast in a more flexible and gentler mold, for the killing of Ikemefuna is dependent on the Oracle and thus is not, like the Old Testament law, inevitable.

Further, the sacrifices of the virgin to replace the lost wife and of the young boy become a way to "avoid war and bloodshed" while still protecting one's tribe from injustices against it p. Achebe, then, seems to depict this episode in terms which relate it to the development of the British, while also sympathizing with the impulses to change in Obierika and with the revulsion of Nwoye against the sacrifice which to him is so like the abandonment of twins in the Evil Forest pp.

The sacrifice of the virgin, of course, is also a reminder of the sacrifices of young virgins in the classical literature which is so basic a part of the British heritage. Achebe presents the past as admirable, but not without flaws which can be eliminated.

He does so both because he holds his own art to a standard of truth and because he sees that the history he is trying to re-create to give his people dignity will be credible only if it in- cludes faults: This is where the writer's integrity comes in. Will he be strong enough to overcome the temptation to select only those facts which flatter him?

If he succumbs he will have branded himself as an un- trustworthy witness. But it is not only his personal integrity as an artist which is involved.

[PDF] Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe EBook Book Download Online Summary

The credibility of the world he is attempt- ing to re-create will be called to question and he will defeat his own purpose if he is suspected of glossing over inconvenient facts. We cannot pretend that our past was one long, technicolour idyll.

We have to admit that like other people's pasts ours had its good as well as its bad sides , 9. Further, these faults explain in part why the British are able to de- stroy the old Igbo culture. Culture in Achebe's Things Fall Apart Those who initially convert to Christianity are members of the clan who have not been fully incorporated into clan life. The first woman convert in Mbanta has had four sets of twins who have been thrown away.

Once the osu, the outcasts, see that the church accepts twins and other matters seen by the clan as abominations, they join the new church.

Nwoye, the gentle son who cannot accept Okonkwo's harshness and especially his killing of Ikemefuna, finds in the poetry of Christianity the promise of brotherhood. Achebe makes it clear that the poetry rather than the rationality of Christianity wins Nwoye's "callow mind" p. The British also control the people through fear, trade, educa- tion and treachery.

The Igbos fear the whites because the massacre at Abame and the ability to survive in the Evil Forest in Mbanta suggest that the white man's medicine is strong. Further, soldiers back up the rule of the district commissioners and the word of the court messengers. Another incentive to accept the British is the desire for wealth: Finally, many come to believe Mr. Brown's argument that the leaders of the land will be those who learn to read and write.

If the British cannot achieve their goals in a straightforward manner, they sometimes stoop to treachery: Okonkwo and the other key leaders in his village suffer their worst humiliation because the district commis- sioner tricks them into a palaver where they leave their weapons out- side, a British practice which Robert Wren finds reported in A.

Afigbo's investigations of local traditions Wren , Even the Igbos' virtues tell against them in the breaking of the clan. Their tolerance of the missionaries allows the Christians to get a foothold in the villages. Their law against killing another member of the clan prevents them from killing the converts to Christianity.

Although Achebe depicts the treachery and ignorance and intol- erance of the British, he does not represent the Europeans as wholly evil. Both the Igbo and the British cultures are for Achebe a mixture of types of human beings. Okonkwo and Mr. Smith are warrior types who will not compromise when their own cultures are threatened.

Okonkwo favors fighting the Christians when in Abame one of them kills the sa- cred python, and he favors war with the Christians in Umuofia. In the end he cuts down the court messengers who come to disband the meeting in Umuofia.

Likewise, the Reverend James Smith is against compro- mise: Brown, on the other hand, is more like Akunna or Obierika. He and Akuma are willing to learn about the other's beliefs even if they are not converted to them. He and Obierika are thoughtful de- fenders of their own cultures. Obierika realizes that if Umuofia kills the Christians, the soldiers from Umuru will annihilate the village.

Achebe's novel, then, depicts for both Africans and Americans the actual and potential sources of modem Nigerian dignity.Unlike most, he cares more for his daughter Ezinma than his son Nwoye whom he believes is weak. The Europeans became hungry for Africa's natural resources, resulting in their arrival into Africa as well as their hostile takeover of the land.

Skip to main content. The views about life that the white men have are totally different from the views that the Igbo have. Their courts are spearheaded by the oldest men of the village, whose wisdom and knowledge is trusted in the power of their ancestral gods to guide them to give fair and unbiased ruling.

They also depend on language to define their social rank in their society. Although it is not the best decision to be taken by him, it is understandable why he does it. Achebe's World. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.