Things Fall Apart (N268)
Things Fall Apart (N268)
Okonkwo lives with his Ibo clansmen in a Nigerian village in the late 1800's. Driven by fear that he will be considered a failure like his father, he is determined to prove himself stronger, tougher, more violent, and more honorable than anyone else. He works hard at growing yams, the "man's crop"; he fights hard, bringing back his enemies' skulls; and he takes two titles- signs of power and honor which involve generously giving to the community. He marries three wives and has eight children, all of whom he tries to keep under strict control. A fiercely proud and short-tempered man, Okonkwo fears being seen as a failure above anything else.
The author of Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, introduces the complex rules, patterns, values, and rituals of Okonkwo's society. The Ibo people love dance, music, and wrestling matches, and Achebe weaves their vivid language, proverbs, and stories into the novel. The 10,000 men of the clan meet together to seek peaceful solutions to problems with other clans, and elders wisely resolve disputes within the clan. On the other hand, the priestess and her Oracle hold the power of life and death. Many children die young, and twin babies are "thrown away" in the forest. When the Oracle demands that an innocent boy hostage be killed, the men of the village immediately obey.
At a funeral celebration Okonkwo's gun explodes and he accidentally kills a boy. As punishment, he is exiled from the clan for seven years. Losing his place and possessions in his village and going to his mother's kinsmen, he begins to struggle with some aspects of his society. Yet when vast changes begin with the arrival of white missionaries, he closes his heart against new ideas despite his earlier misgivings.
Okonkwo returns to his village, where a missionary ministers to a small flock of believers. This wise and godly man is replaced by another missionary, less sensitive to local traditions, who helps to provoke a conflict between the young believers and the other men of the village. When a white administrator and corrupt soldiers, contemptuous and ignorant of the complex rules of Okonkwo's society, get involved in the conflict, they humiliate the community and bring tragedy to Okonkwo. Things have fallen apart, and Okonkwo's world is changed forever.
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