Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe | Summary & Analysis


in the introduction of Chinua Achebe's

things fall apart

readers meet the main character okonkwo

who gained fame and respect by winning a

wrestling match against an undefeated

champion since then Okonkwo has became

wealthy marrying three wives and

fathering ten children in whom ophea one

of the nine villages of his clan his

successes contrast with the failures of

his father a gentle musician in debt to

his entire community ashamed of his


Okonkwo was driven to be the opposite of

him fierce and hyper masculine in the

rising action clan elders choose Okonkwo

as guardian of akima funa a boy who

arrives in the village has payment from

a neighboring clan whose members

murdered a woman from a wolf iya akima

funa adjusts to life in a mafia and

comes to view Okonkwo as his father nui

o Kenko son grows fond of akiima funa

but when the priestess chielo orders EK

mo funa to be killed a village elder as

a you do warns okonkwo not to take part

in the killing he does so anyway fearing

that if he doesn't obey the Oracle he

will lose respect Mui in particular is

devastated a Z Maha daughter of Okonkwo

second wife a quiff II becomes extremely

ill with a fever and equi fee is

terrified the child will die later as a

you do dies and during his funeral men

beat ceremonial drums and fire their

guns Okonkwo's gun explodes accidentally

killing as a you do son the punishment

for killing a Klansman is seven years of

exile Okonkwo and his family settle with

his mother's clansmen in an Bonta when

Okonkwo's friend OB Rika visits he

describes the destruction of the album a

clan at the hands of the white man

the Oracle had said that white men would

descend like devouring locusts and

destroy them when missionaries arrived

in in Bonta and other villages and

request land to build a church

villagers begin attending services

including Moyet

who leaves his father to join the

missionaries Okonkwo decides it's

natural for him to have a weak son as he

puts it living fire beget scold impotent

ash oak on coal returns to elope eeeh

after seven years but he finds that much

has changed the missionaries are now

well established he wants to fight them

but obey Rica warns it is too late the

white man's presence extends further

than the church as British officials

have set up a government with a judicial

process led by a district commissioner

Enoch as Ellis Christian convert commits

the crime of unmasking a blue goo Klan

leader in the climax of the novel the

egg woohoo and village leaders respond

by destroying enix compound and the

church in the falling action the

district commissioner jails six leaders

including Okonkwo they're humiliated and

tortured in jail once released

Okonkwo vows vengeance and he killed a

court messenger for trying to stop a

Klan meeting in the resolution of things

fall apart

Okonkwo has hanged himself the district

commissioner reflects that Okonkwo story

might be worth including in his book

called the pacification of the primitive

tribes of the lower Niger

there are many characters in Chinua

Achebe's Things Fall Apart

key among them are Okonkwo's family and

his closest friend the novel's main

character Okonkwo is a respected leader

who has overcome his father's reputation

to achieve great success as a warrior

and farmer hyper-masculine

and fearful of feminine weakness Okonkwo

is quick to anger it's often violent and

ruled by one passion to hate everything

his father had loved this rigidity harms

his family and society he's ultimately

unable to adapt to the changes brought

by Europeans and he commits suicide

rather than endure colonized society

though a gentle and gifted musician

Okonkwo's father única is judged by the

clan as lazy his crops were poor because

he preferred playing his flute and

drinking wine to farming he was also

seen as a coward because he was afraid

of war when Annika died he was in debt

to all of his neighbor's his son Okonkwo

is driven to hate everything about him

akima funa comes to the clan as payment

for a murder committed by one of his

tribesmen the elders place him with

okonkwo who puts his first wife in

charge of the boy EK mucuna eventually

comes to feel at home in a mafia and

Okonkwo and his family grow to love him

as a son and brother Okonkwo's oldest

son nuo yi develops an especially close

bond with Akuma funa Okonkwo betrays

this love by delivering the fatal blow

in akiima Funes murder Okonkwo's oldest

son Mui experiences the full brunt of

his father's discipline Okonkwo fears

that Moyet will grow up weak and

feminine like Annika so he is

particularly hard on him Noah develops a

close bond with ek mucuna but when Akuma

funa is killed

nuoyi cuts himself off from his father

with the arrival of European

missionaries no brakes entirely from his

father's influence and converts to

Christianity equi fee is Okonkwo second

wife she was attracted to him when she

saw his legendary wrestling victory she

couldn't marry him then because he was

too poor but once he achieves success

she left her husband for Okonkwo the

loss of her first nine children forged a

close connection to him and okonkwo

shows more care and concern for her than

his other wives equi fee is particularly

close to her only child a Z MA and

treats her daughter like an equal a

Zenith is Okonkwo's only child with his

second wife equi fille she's close to

her mother and Okonkwo's favorite he

shows a special connection to her and

respects her boldness often wishing she

were a son Oba Rica is a conquest

closest friend like Okonkwo he has

achieved great status within the clan he

too has multiple wives and children

during Okonkwo's exile from moi via OB

Rika cares for his land and property Oba

Rica is more nuanced in his thinking

than Okonkwo and able to express himself

he rebukes Okonkwo for participating in

ek mo Funes murder tells him to have

patience with his children and cautions

him about the power of the missionaries

let's talk about some of the symbols of

Chinua Achebe's things fall apart

referring to his rage Okonkwo's nickname

roaring flame symbolizes the incendiary

nature of his masculinity Okonkwo's rage

is never far from the surface and often

takes the place of dialog whenever he

could not get his words out quickly

enough he would use his fists the

narrator describes okonkwo as living

fire distinct from his son Louie who is


impotent ash a question raised by the

novel is whether Okonkwo's kind of

living roaring flame ought to survive

and whether it's a positive model of

passion or masculinity the principle

crop of ebo farmers and a staple of

feasts yams symbolize wealth and status

as well as masculinity we learn in

chapter 3 that okonkwo first begins to

earn respect in the clan when he borrows

and plants some 800 yam seeds growing

yams is thought of as a man's job

because it is so challenging in Chapter

four we're told yam the king of crops

was a very exacting King a Klansman who

succeeds at growing yams proves himself

and earns the respect of those around


locusts represent the devastating

effects of European contact and

Christian missionaries in chapter 15 the

Oracle states directly that the white

men are locusts consuming everything in

their path this is a turn in the novel

in Chapter 7 the arrival of actual

locusts brings joy as a dietary delicacy

but in Chapter 15 Evo culture represents

all that is consumed by British rule and

Christianity in Chapter 15 one white

missionary comes to the area told by the

Oracle that the white man will spread

destruction the people kill him he is

soon followed by many more foreigners

until their presence is felt in all the

villages like locusts they bring some

benefits education and medicine but at

the same time they also devour the clans

traditions and culture

let's talk about some principal themes

of Chinua Achebe's things fall apart

the title of the novel nods to the

destructive effects of European

colonization as well as to more general

pressures put on a changing culture over

the course of the novel we see how

things fall apart both before and after

the arrival of the missionaries culture

and change are those key themes the

colonizers bring new religion new

justice and new government with little

thought to how ebo society functioned

previously the British assume arrogantly

that they're bringing culture and

enlightenment to primitive people but

the novel works hard to show a fully

functioning ebo society that includes

elaborate belief systems thriving

agricultural communal justice and many

other markings of well-established

social organization in parts 1 & 2

especially we come to know a culture

rich in celebration ritual music dance

and storytelling changes come about

rapidly when the white men and

missionaries arrive the impact is

negligible at first

rumours stories but soon materializes

into churches schools and new government

institutions the outcasts are the first

to abandon ebo tradition to them the

cultural changes seem to offer new

status and recognition equalizing


Okonkwo refuses to shift his beliefs and

behaviors particularly because the

British do not see the ebo as their

equals he falls apart literally in the

end his power and status reduced to

suicide fate versus free will in the

evil religion an individual's Chi or

personal God is said to predetermine

that person's fate a person's failures

and successes are thus attributed to

that person's Chi and yet this fate is

not all-powerful as an ebow proverb puts

it when a man says yes his Chi says yes

also this shows the belief that a

person's will can influence their Chi

Okonkwo works hard to become a wealthy

respected leader of the clan with his

drive to dissociate himself from his

father he said to have overcome his Chi

but when he accidentally kills as a you

do son and is forced into exile he

curses his fate he now believes that

fate rather than his own Drive rules his

destiny betrayal Okonkwo believes the

men of the clan should resist the

incursions of the white man and used

their warrior skills to drive the

missionaries from their territory in

Okonkwo's eyes the clan responds to

these foreigners with passivity rather

than strength he sees the clans

acceptance of the missionaries as a

betrayal of the clans tradition and of

their warlike ancestors although II came

of Funes execution is demanded by the

Oracle and therefore an accepted part of

ebo tradition whole conquest

participation can be seen as a personal

act of betrayal

Okonkwo helps kill the boy who called

him father

noise departure from the clan makes

Okonkwo wonder how any man could abandon

the gods of his father this for okonkwo

is the ultimate betrayal