Essay On Things Fall Apart – 3235 Words

It’s no secret that Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” is one of the most important works of African literature. Written in 1958, it remains a timeless classic that resonates with readers from all walks of life. This essay will explore some of the themes explored in this remarkable work and how they are still relevant today.

From its title to its conclusion, “Things Fall Apart” paints a vivid picture of an Igbo man struggling to remain true to his culture while enduring harsh forces beyond his control. It speaks powerfully about the effects colonialism had on indigenous Africans, but also explores universal themes like family conflict and identity crises. Even more remarkably, these ideas are presented without losing sight of the beauty and complexity of traditional tribal cultures.

In addition to being entertaining and thought-provoking, this story offers valuable lessons for anyone trying to understand their place in society. By taking a closer look at “Things Fall Apart”, we can gain insight into ourselves and our world as it continues to change around us.

Overview Of The Novel

Things Fall Apart is a novel that takes us on an unforgettable journey. It serves as a reminder of the harsh realities of colonialism and its effects on African culture during this period in history. The plot follows Okonkwo, a powerful leader in Igbo society, who struggles to maintain his place and identity while attempting to resist change from British colonization. Through this story, we gain insight into the complexities of social life before colonization and how it was irrevocably altered by Western influences.

The title Things Fall Apart aptly describes the themes of the novel; there’s a sense of inevitability about how things are falling apart despite all efforts to prevent them from doing so. We witness Okonkwo’s attempts to uphold his own cultural values against those of the colonizers but ultimately he fails due to their overwhelming power. This illustrates just how powerless individuals can be when up against larger forces beyond their control.

This book gives readers great insight into pre-colonial African societies and how they were changed forever by European colonialism. From this perspective, we learn about human resilience and our capacity for survival in trying times even if we cannot always win every battle or hold onto old traditions intact. Moving forward now with a deeper understanding of what happened during these tumultuous years, let us explore further details about the plot summary of Things Fall Apart.

Plot Summary

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a captivating story that follows protagonist Okonkwo’s journey. Written in an interesting storytelling style, the novel provides insight into pre-colonial Africa and its intricate social dynamics.

The novel is narrated through multiple perspectives and highlights how traditional customs are challenged over time due to cultural changes and imperialism. The plot follows Okonkwo as he navigates his inner turmoil while coping with the changing times around him. As the story progresses, readers get a glimpse of how his character evolves throughout the course of events.

Okonkwo experiences various obstacles which tests his strength and resilience against external forces. His struggles symbolize those experienced by many during this period of change, making Things Fall Apart a powerful narrative on identity crisis during colonialism. From these challenges comes understanding, growth and ultimately acceptance for both himself and readers alike. This makes it an essential read for anyone interested in post-colonial literature or African history.

As we explore further into Things Fall Apart, we look closely at characters’ development next…

Character Analysis

In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe paints a vivid picture of the Iberian culture that Okonkwo is part of. The book serves as an exploration into the complexities of life within this particular society and its unique traditions. As we get to know more about each character in the novel, it becomes clear how their individual strengths and weaknesses shape them and ultimately contribute to the story’s climax.

Okonkwo stands out among all characters as someone who values strength over weakness. He is driven by his fear of being seen as weak like his father Unoka was, which motivates him to constantly strive for power and success. His need for control leads him to be quick-tempered with those around him; he does not hesitate to take drastic measures when necessary. However, despite his aggressive demeanor, there are moments where readers can see glimpses of compassion from Okonkwo towards others.

For example, when Ikemefuna stays with Okonkwo’s family before being killed, Okonkwo shows genuine affection for him even though he knows what must eventually happen. Through these types of interactions, readers gain greater insight into both sides of Okonkwo’s complex personality: one filled with strength but also capable of showing love and understanding at times too.

As such, it becomes apparent that while many aspects of Iberian culture remain unchanged throughout time – including important rituals and ceremonies – people have always been able to grow and develop regardless of cultural constraints or expectations. By analyzing each character individually through symbolism, Achebe demonstrates how change is possible even within systems that seem unyielding on the surface level. This concept can then be further explored in terms examining themes associated with religion, gender roles, class structure etc., allowing us to understand better why Things Fall Apart still resonates powerfully today.


I’m fascinated by the themes present in Things Fall Apart. The novel explores gender roles, colonialism and masculinity through its characters. Okonkwo is the central figure of the narrative, a proud and hard-working man determined to rise above his father’s poverty. He embodies traditional Ibo values such as strength and courage, but he also has an underlying fear of failure which leads him to extreme acts of violence. His rigid adherence to these ideals eventually leads to his downfall.

Colonialism is another key theme in the book; it serves as a backdrop for many of the events that occur throughout. This theme is highlighted by Achebe’s use of language – English words are often used alongside those from native languages, suggesting that cultural traditions are being replaced with Western ones. In this way, colonization becomes symbolic of change; while some accept it willingly others struggle against it desperately, unable to let go of their old ways.

Masculinity is explored through Okonkwo’s character arc and various other male figures within the novel. We witness how ingrained ideas about what makes a “real man” can be both destructive and inspiring at once: on one hand they drive men like Okonkwo toward greatness but on the other they trap them into living up to outdated expectations. It is clear that no single definition exists when it comes to masculinity, yet this tension between upholding tradition and embracing progress remains constant throughout Things Fall Apart.

My next step will be exploring religion in the novel: how it shapes individuals’ identities and relationships within Igbo society.

Role Of Religion In The Novel

Religion is an important theme in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. In the Igbo culture, religion was intertwined with the customs and traditions of the people. It affected how they lived their lives and how social hierarchies were established within their society. Religion had a huge impact on gender roles as well as colonialism which was beginning to encroach upon their land. Here are some ways that religion played an integral role in this novel:

  • Religion provided guidance for daily life through religious rituals such as prayer and sacrifices.
  • The Igbo believed in multiple gods who each had specific responsibilities; these gods served as a form of protection from evil forces.
  • Different clans practiced different religions based on their beliefs, so there was no one unified belief system among all Igbo people.
  • Women often held positions of power within religious ceremonies due to their spiritual connection to goddesses like Ani or Mmuo Nnkwu.

The effect that religion had on Igbo culture cannot be understated, as it helped shape many of its customs and traditions while providing both guidance and protection. This influence can still be seen today even after centuries of colonization have changed much about the region’s history and culture. Moving forward into the next section, we will explore how cultural significance played out throughout the novel.

Cultural Significance

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart has become one of the most widely-read books in African literature, with over 20 million copies sold worldwide. This speaks to its cultural significance and legacy as a pre-colonial tale that resonates with modern readers. The story is set in late 19th century Nigeria, which was then populated by peoples abiding by traditional values and norms.

Achebe’s work offers insight into the culture of Umuofia before it was exposed to colonialism and Christianity. He captures themes such as loyalty, respect for elders, gender roles, communal justice, religion and language – all components of Igbo life at the time. By exploring these topics through his characters’ actions and relationships, he paints an accurate picture of how society operated during this period.

The novel has endured for decades because its portrayal of Nigerian history still rings true today; many aspects remain unchanged from pre-colonial times despite changes in technology or globalization. Through its resilience against time, Things Fall Apart helps preserve important parts of Africa’s past while also inspiring new ideas about modernization. Its cultural legacy is evident not only in academic settings but also on stage and screen: there have been several productions based off the book including a feature film adaptation released in 1999. It is clear that Achebe’s classic continues to shape our understanding of African cultures both ancient and contemporary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1:What Are The Major Themes Of The Novel?

Ans: The major themes of the novel Things Fall Apart are culture, gender roles, colonialism, religion and identity. These themes are all intricately woven together to create a complex story about how individuals must adapt in order to survive within their ever-changing environment.

Culture is a central theme in this novel as it affects everything from family dynamics to how people interact with each other. It also dictates social norms such as gender roles, which play an important role throughout the book. Gender roles shape characters’ behavior and relationships with one another and establish what is considered acceptable or unacceptable for both genders. For example, Okonkwo’s fear of being seen as weak due to his father’s failure drives him to be tough and uncompromising in his interactions with others.

Colonialism is another important theme that has a significant impact on the protagonist, Okonkwo. This foreign presence disrupts his entire way of life by introducing new religious beliefs and customs into the community which eventually leads to its downfall. Religion plays a crucial part in shaping identities and presenting different perspectives on life events which makes it vital for understanding cultural differences between groups and individuals. Lastly, identity is heavily explored within this novel as characters struggle to find their place in society amidst drastic changes brought on by colonization.

These key themes can be further summarized through these points:

  • Culture influences every aspect of life including gender roles
  • Colonialism brings about drastic change disrupting traditional values
  • Religion shapes individual identity and perspective
  • Identity crisis caused by conflicting cultures
  • Characters must learn how to adapt in changing times

Throughout Things Fall Apart we see how various forces like culture, gender roles, colonialism, religion and identity all contribute towards creating difficult yet interesting situations for characters who have no choice but to try and make sense out of them. The complexity of these themes ultimately creates an engaging story full of emotion that readers can relate too even today.

Q2:How Does The Protagonist’s Journey Affect The People Around Him?

Ans: I want to explore how the protagonist’s journey affects those around him in Things Fall Apart. As we follow the protagonist on his journey, it is clear that his struggles have an impact on the people in and outside of his society. We can see this as traditional values begin to fall apart with the introduction of modern values.

The protagonist’s journey has a direct effect on those closest to him, especially during moments when he must choose between traditional or modern values. This causes tension and disharmony within the village, as well as friction amongst family members who cannot agree on which path should be taken. His decisions also ripple outwards beyond his immediate circle, affecting all facets of life for many people.

This clash of cultures and ideals is further complicated by external forces such as colonization and Christian missionaries, leading to further disruption of societal norms and structure. The action that our hero takes ultimately leads to a deterioration in community spirit, leaving people feeling powerless and confused about their place in the world they once knew so well.

Although these effects can seem devastating at times, there are some positive aspects too; through understanding each other’s point of view we can learn compassion and new ways of living together harmoniously despite differences – something very important in today’s world. Ultimately, while difficult choices need to be made along the way, it is only through recognizing change and adapting accordingly that progress may occur without completely falling apart.

Q3:How Does The Novel Portray The Clash Between Traditional And Modern Values?

Ans: In Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, the clash between traditional and modern values is explored in an interesting way. This could be seen as a reflection of Nigeria’s own struggle during the period of colonization. According to statistics, by 1960 90% of Nigerians were under colonial rule – showing how much their lives had changed in just over 50 years.

The protagonist Okonkwo has been brought up with strong traditional beliefs that are at odds with the new ways being imposed upon him and his people. He struggles to accept this change, trying desperately to stick to old traditions despite all around him changing rapidly and drastically. His journey reflects those of many other characters who have found themselves facing difficult decisions regarding tradition versus progress.

Achebe uses several literary devices throughout the book such as symbolism and imagery to illustrate the conflict between these two sets of values which can cause so much tension within society when they collide. For example, there is a scene where Okonkwo breaks down after seeing a young boy killing a sacred python – something he would never have done before but was now part of life in Umuofia due to the influence of missionaries from abroad. The reader can see how hard it must be for someone like Okonkwo whose entire life is based on upholding tradition, to come face-to-face with something so contrary to what he believes in and holds dear.

It is clear that Achebe wanted readers not only to understand but also sympathize with those caught in between two worlds and struggling to find somewhere comfortable enough for them. In doing so, we learn about our own realities and think more deeply about how different cultures interact – something still very relevant today no matter what context you look at it through.

Q4:What Is The Significance Of The Title?

Ans: The title of the novel Things Fall Apart has deep significance and symbolic meaning. It is a phrase from William Butler Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’, which speaks to chaos, destruction and the end of an era. The title reflects the themes of the book, particularly when it comes to examining traditional beliefs in Igbo culture clashing with modern values.

The title also implies that no matter what happens, things eventually fall apart and change occurs whether we want it or not. This message is seen throughout the novel as Okonkwo’s village begins to adapt to foreign influences. In addition, his own rigid adherence to tradition ultimately leads him further away from his own people instead of helping them stay together during their period of transition.

In Things Fall Apart, we see how certain changes occur naturally while others require conscious effort on our part if we are to maintain balance between different forces around us – be they old traditions versus new ones or cultural clashes. Ultimately, this book suggests that although some changes can’t be avoided, there will always be a chance for harmony if both sides are willing to compromise and understand each other better. Therefore, the title serves as a reminder of this idea that nothing remains static forever; yet even in times of upheaval compassion has its place too.

Q5:How Does The Novel Explore The Concept Of Masculinity?

Ans: No other novel has explored the concept of masculinity like ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe. This powerful and insightful book delves deep into the traditional African society, to reveal how things fall apart when it comes to gender roles and expectations. Through its vivid descriptions and detailed characterization of Okonkwo, Achebe paints a picture of what it means to be a man in an ever-changing world.

Okonkwo is determined to prove his worth as a man, but this ambition leads him down a path of destruction. His masculine pride pushes him further away from who he truly is – leading him to commit acts that are not only frowned upon in his tribe, but also deeply damaging for himself and those around him. He sees strength as something that should come at any cost; even if that means sacrificing family or honouring societal norms over personal morals. In doing so, he finds himself losing everything he holds dear – including respect from his peers and love from his family.

Achebe’s exploration of masculinity allows readers to reflect on their own views surrounding gender roles and expectations in society today. Through careful character development we are able to understand why Okonkwo behaves the way he does –and thus discover ways in which we can encourage healthier expressions of masculinity within our own lives. By exploring how things ‘fall apart’ due to outdated ideas about what makes someone a ‘man’, this remarkable novel offers us insight into the importance of understanding ourselves better before forcing others onto certain pathways dictated by tradition or prejudice.


In conclusion, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a compelling literary exploration of the clash between traditional and modern values in an African society during colonization. Through its story of Okonkwo’s journey, this novel offers readers insight into how the colonizer-colonized relationship can affect individuals, families, and communities. The title itself reflects the tragedy of this situation – that when things fall apart due to external forces, it can be difficult for those involved to put them together again.

The novel also tackles important themes such as masculinity and gender roles within pre-colonial Igbo culture. It shows us how these concepts are changing through time with the introduction of new ways of thinking from foreign influences. We see Okonkwo struggle to conform to what he believes is expected of him as a man while dealing with his internal conflict over change. This leads him down a path of destruction not only for himself but for those around him as well.

It is estimated that over three million copies of Things Fall Apart have been sold since its initial publication in 1958; making it one of the most popular African novels ever written. This speaks to its timelessness’ and relevance today, continuing to inspire conversations about our own societies and cultures throughout history and beyond.

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