It is set in pre-colonial Nigeria that follows the life of Okonkwo, a respected Igbo leader as he grapples with the changing customs and arrival of European colonizers. It follows the downfall of Okonkwo while dealing with themes of colonialism, masculinity, tradition vs change, and consequences of cultural clashes


Things Fall Apart is a novel by Chinua Achebe, published in 1958. It tells the story of Okonkwo, a leader and warrior of the Igbo people of Nigeria, in the late 19th century. Okonkwo is a proud and ambitious man who strives to overcome the legacy of his weak and lazy father. He is respected in his clan for his achievements in wrestling, farming, and warfare. He has three wives and several children, but he is especially fond of his daughter Ezinma and his adopted son Ikemefuna.

The novel depicts the culture and traditions of the Igbo people before and after the arrival of European missionaries and colonial administrators. It shows how Okonkwo and his clan struggle to maintain their identity and values in the face of external changes and challenges. Okonkwo’s life is marked by several tragic events, such as the death of Ikemefuna, who is killed by the clan as a sacrifice to appease the gods; the accidental killing of a clansman by Okonkwo, which forces him to go into exile for seven years; and the conversion of his son Nwoye to Christianity, which causes a rift between them.

The novel ends with Okonkwo’s suicide, after he kills a messenger sent by the British to stop a meeting of the clan elders. Okonkwo’s death is seen as a disgrace by both his clan and the British, who regard him as a savage and a troublemaker. His body is buried by the Christian converts, who are the only ones willing to touch it.

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian writer and professor, widely regarded as one of the most influential African authors of the 20th century. He was born in 1930 in Ogidi, a town in southeastern Nigeria that was part of the British colony at the time. He grew up in a Christian family, but was also exposed to the Igbo culture and language of his ancestors. He attended missionary schools and later studied English literature at the University of Ibadan. He worked as a teacher, broadcaster, and editor before becoming a full-time writer.

Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as a response to the negative portrayal of Africa and its people by European writers, such as Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling. He wanted to show the richness and complexity of African history and culture, as well as the impact of colonialism on African societies. He also wanted to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that many Europeans had about Africans, such as their supposed lack of civilization, religion, and morality.

Achebe’s novel was an immediate success, both in Africa and abroad. It has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. It is considered a classic of world literature and a masterpiece of African literature. It has inspired many other writers, such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Chinelo Okparanta. It has also been adapted into several films, plays, operas, and musicals.


Summary of Part 1

Okonkwo ’ s character is introduced. is a respected leader and wrestler in Umuofia. Hates his father and strives to be the opposite of him Despite all odds, becomes successful, a self-made man. aggressive, violent; beats his wife during The Week Of Peace Kills Ikemefuna, a peace offering by another village who Okonkwo raises as his own Gets exiled because of his accidental killing of a clansman

Summary of Part 2

focuses on Okonkwo’s exile in his motherland, Mbanta. Shows the arrival of the white missionaries and colonialists, who bring a new religion and government to the region. Portrays the conflicts and changes that occur How some Igbo people, such as Okonkwo ’ s son Nwoye, convert to Christianity

Summary of Part 3

Focuses on Okonkwo’s return to Umuofia after his exile. Reveals how much the village has changed under the influence of the Europeans There is a court, a prison, and a church. Okonkwo’s attempts to resist and fight against the colonial rule, but he receives little support from his fellow clansmen It ends with Okonkwo’s suicide, an act considered shameful in Igbo culture


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Cao, Diana. “Things Fall Apart.” LitCharts LLC, November 3, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2020.

“Achebe depicts Igbo society in transition, from its first contact with the British colonialists to the growing dominance of British rule over the indigenous people”

“Pre-colonial Nigeria, 1890s”

“Point of View: Third person omniscient”

“Having killed a fellow clansman, Okonkwo has no choice but to flee the clan with his family. Because the crime is a “female,” or accidental, crime, they may return in seven years.”


“While he works in Mbanta, the white men begin to appear among neighboring clans”

“Enoch, a fanatical convert, rips the mask off of one of the clan’s masked egwugwu during a ceremony, the clan retaliates by burning down the church.”

“District Commissioner tricks the clan’s leaders into meeting with him before handcuffing them. The clan leaders, including Okonkwo, suffer insults and beatings before they are released once the village pays the fine.”

“Okonkwo strikes down the messenger with his machete. Seeing that none of his clansmen support him in his violent action, Okonkwo walks away and hangs himself.”

“District Commissioner comes to fetch Okonkwo the next day, the clansmen lead him to his hanging body instead, saying that they cannot touch it, since it’s an abomination for a man to take his own life. The District Commissioner finds this custom interesting, making note of it for his book on Nigeria, which he plans to title The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.”

“The District Commissioner plans to write a book on his experiences in Nigeria, and the title he chooses—The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger—reveals his superior attitude towards the Igbo people, whom he treats as objects of study rather than as actual people with their own complex customs and beliefs”

“W.B. Yeats called “The Second Coming”: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.””

“their love of proverbs or how they make judicial decisions”

“Okonkwo and his son Nwoye also symbolize tradition and change, respectively”

“Okonkwo begins to fall out of favor with the clans, and his descent signals the crumbling of traditional Umuofia society. His adherence to tradition also drives him to kill his own surrogate son, Ikemefuna, driving away Nwoye in the process. Nwoye feels cold when he contemplates certain aspects of Umuofia society—such as leaving infant twins out to die and the idea of sacrificing innocents like Ikemefuna—and this pushes him to join the Christians when he’s given the chance later in the novel”

“He becomes known for his wrestling prowess, and we are told that this cannot be attributed to luck: “At the most one could say that his chi or personal god was good. But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very strongly; so his chi agreed.””

“However, once things start turning sour for Okonkwo, he begins to blame his fate.”

“torytelling is also a form of education for the clan—whether they’re masculine war stories or feminine fables, storytelling defines different roles for clan members and moves them to action”

“The ability to read and write in English begins to represent power”

“he expresses the wish that his daughter Ezinma were a boy”

“The dialogue between one of the clan leaders of a neighboring tribe, Akunna, and Mr. Brown reveals how much both systems of religion have in common. Akunna agrees, for example, that their wooden carvings of deities are just that—wooden carvings—but he likens it to the figure of Mr. Brown: he’s also just a conduit or symbol for the western God. Akunna expresses what the narrator has already suggested—that the Umuofia people only pretend to believe in certain aspects of their religion, such as the masked gods who are really tribe members wearing masks. This dialogue about religion does a lot to carry out Achebe’s mission of depicting Nigerian society as one that’s far from primitive—depicting it instead as a culture with mythologies and rituals and an understanding of the mythologies behind those rituals.”

“The poem uses plenty of ominous Biblical language in describing an apocalyptic scenario, which parallels the situation in the novel where religion is the vehicle for the fall of Umuofia society.”

“he gazes into the fire after his son joins the Christians: “Living fire begets cold, impotent ash.””

“proverb—“the palm-oil with which words are eaten”—is used to describe the functioning of proverbs themselves. This meta-textual trick only further stresses the centrality of this stylistic device, and it also asserts that proverbs function as a kind of mitigation of what might otherwise be harsh or overly-direct statements.”

“Igbo culture is shown to be dynamic and merit-oriented, a society in which mobility is permitted and encouraged based on personal achievement”

“Dangerous animals became even more sinister and uncanny in the dark. A snake was never called by its name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string”

“Unoka is described as an ill-fated man with a bad chi or personal god. He died of swelling in his stomach and limbs, which is an abomination to the earth goddess and prevented him from having a proper burial. He was instead carried to the Evil Forest and left to die.”

“Okonkwo did not inherit a barn, title, or wife from his father, but in spite of these disadvantages, he began to sow the seeds for a successful future even during his father’s lifetime. He threw himself into work, out of fear of his father’s pitiful life and shameful death.”

“The proverb about chi is akin to the American saying “fate favors the bold,” implying that a person can make their own fate by being aggressive.”

“the girl from Mbaino is given to Udo without dispute and considered a full replacement for his murdered wife, giving us a glimpse into Umuofia gender roles and the bias in favor of masculinity. The women are treated as interchangeable”

“Okonkwo wants to help his son by giving him skills his own father didn’t give him, but his method is harsh, alienating his son instead.”

“Ezeudu advises him not to participate in the killing, since Ikemefuna calls him father.”

“Ikemefuna is a victim of fate”

“repulsed by the violent customs of his people against those who are weak”

“Okonkwo’s vision of masculinity is not one that’s shared by everyone in the clan. Okonkwo sees weakness in consulting a woman, whereas the other men don’t believe that such behavior lessens Ndulue’s achievements.”