Table of Contents Plot Overview Okonkwo is a wealthy and respected warrior of the Umuofia clan, a lower Nigerian tribe that is part of a consortium of nine connected villages. He is haunted by the actions of Unoka, his cowardly and spendthrift father, who died in disrepute, leaving many village debts unsettled. In response, Okonkwo became a clansman, warrior, farmer, and family provider extraordinaire.
Even if the author doesn't consciously identify an intended theme, the creative process is directed by at least one controlling idea — a concept or principle or belief or purpose significant to the author.
The theme — often several themes — guides the author by controlling where the story goes, what the characters do, what mood is portrayed, what style evolves, and what emotional effects the story will create in the reader. Igbo Society Complexity From Achebe's own statements, we know that one of his themes is the complexity of Igbo society before the arrival of the Europeans.
To support this theme, he includes detailed descriptions of the justice codes and the trial process, the social and family rituals, the marriage customs, food production and preparation processes, the process of shared leadership for the community, religious beliefs and practices, and the opportunities for virtually every man to climb the clan's ladder of success through his own efforts.
The book may have been written more simply as a study of Okonkwo's deterioration in character in an increasingly unsympathetic and incompatible environment, but consider what would have been lost had Achebe not emphasized the theme of the complex and dynamic qualities of the Igbo in Umuofia.
Clash of Cultures Against Achebe's theme of Igbo cultural complexity is his theme of the clash of cultures. This collision of cultures occurs at the individual and societal levels, and the cultural misunderstanding cuts both ways: Just as the uncompromising Reverend Smith views Africans as "heathens," the Igbo initially criticize the Christians and the missionaries as "foolish.
Writing as an African who had been "Europeanized," Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as "an act of atonement with [his] past, the ritual return and homage of a prodigal son. Destiny Related to the theme of cultural clash is the issue of how much the flexibility or the rigidity of the characters and by implication, of the British and Igbo contribute to their destiny.
Because of Okonkwo's inflexible nature, he seems destined for self-destruction, even before the arrival of the European colonizers.
The arrival of a new culture only hastens Okonkwo's tragic fate.
Two other characters contrast with Okonkwo in this regard: Brown, the first missionary, and Obierika, Okonkwo's good friend. Whereas Okonkwo is an unyielding man of action, the other two are more open and adaptable men of thought.
Brown wins converts by first respecting the traditions and beliefs of the Igbo and subsequently allowing some accommodation in the conversion process. Like Brown, Obierika is also a reasonable and thinking person.
He does not advocate the use of force to counter the colonizers and the opposition. Rather, he has an open mind about changing values and foreign culture: Obierika's receptive and adaptable nature may be more representative of the spirit of Umuofia than Okonkwo's unquestioning rigidity.
For example, consider Umuofia's initial lack of resistance to the establishment of a new religion in its midst. With all its deep roots in tribal heritage, the community hardly takes a stand against the intruders — against new laws as well as new religion.
What accounts for this lack of community opposition? Was Igbo society more receptive and adaptable than it appeared to be? The lack of strong initial resistance may also come from the fact that the Igbo society does not foster strong central leadership.
This quality encourages individual initiative toward recognition and achievement but also limits timely decision-making and the authority-backed actions needed on short notice to maintain its integrity and welfare.
Whatever the reason — perhaps a combination of these reasons — the British culture and its code of behavior, ambitious for its goals of native "enlightenment" as well as of British self-enrichment, begin to encroach upon the existing Igbo culture and its corresponding code of behavior.
A factor that hastens the decline of the traditional Igbo society is their custom of marginalizing some of their people — allowing the existence of an outcast group and keeping women subservient in their household and community involvement, treating them as property, and accepting physical abuse of them somewhat lightly.
When representatives of a foreign culture beginning with Christian missionaries enter Igbo territory and accept these marginalized people — including the twins — at their full human value, the Igbo's traditional shared leadership finds itself unable to control its whole population. The lack of a clear, sustaining center of authority in Igbo society may be the quality that decided Achebe to draw his title from the Yeats poem, "The Second Coming.
This theme is also played at the individual and societal levels. In the story, readers are frequently reminded about this theme in references to chi, the individual's personal god as well as his ultimate capability and destiny.
Okonkwo, at his best, feels that his chi supports his ambition:LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Things Fall Apart, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Tradition vs. Change Fate vs. Free Will. In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, women of the Igbo tribe are terribly mistreated, and viewed as weak and receive little or no respect outside of their role as a mother.
Tradition dictates their role in life. These women are courageous and obedient. These women are nurturers above all and they. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe- 5 Meaningful Quotes Revolving Around Okonkwo.
In the essay Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, there are five meaningful quotes that revolve around Okonkwos status during his life. Things Fall Apart study guide contains a biography of Chinua Achebe, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
. Things Fall Apart is about the tragic fall of the protagonist, Okonkwo, and the Igbo culture. Okonkwo is a respected and influential leader within the Igbo community of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. He first earns personal fame and distinction, and brings honor to his village, when he defeats Amalinze.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Yet his attitude echoes so much of the depiction of Africa; this attitude, following Achebe's depiction of the Igbo, seems hollow and savage. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.