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Ideas for Things Fall Apart Socratic Seminar

Similarities between Oedipus Rex and Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo as tragic character

Making connections to any of the supplemental readings throughout the unit

How does the novel apply to us? To our world? Does this novel have a universal appeal? Explain.

What is the most important theme in the novel?

Assess the role of the colonists in the novel? Are they all good, all bad?

Is Okonkwo successful in not becoming like his father? Explain?

Gender (masculinity and femininity) throughout the novel? How is it defined? How does this
shape certain characters? Do these definitions need to change? What might Achebe be
suggesting?

Explore the role(s) of fear and anger in the novel. How are the characters driven and shaped by
fear? Does fear play a part in the outcome of the novel? Why is fear a key component of the Ibo
system of belief (or is it)? Why is fear such a large part of Okonkwos character? How does it
affect him? Is there any element of fear in our lives that we also see in Ibo culture? What might
this suggest about perceptions of failure? What happens when people live their lives fearing that
they will fail?

The theme for this semester has been change, tragedy, and transformation. How does this theme
relate to the novel? Is change destructive? How does Okonkwo handle change? How does Nwoye
handle change? Is change best when it occurs from the inside? Outside? Is Achebe saying
anything about change?

Concerning Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, Achebe claims, The question is whether a novel
which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be
called a great work of art. My answer is: No, it cannot." Do you agree with Achebe? Can a work
like Conrad's be considered great, or does its portrayal of Africa and Africans keep it from truly
speaking to all readers?

How is culture defined? What happens when differing cultures meet? What are some ways that
people respond when they dont understand someone elses culture or experiences? Explain. How
does culture evolve? Is this good/bad? How can people successfully gain an understanding of
another culture and the people in it?

Ultimately what is more important to literature, the development of plot, themes, or characters?
Explain.

How do you interpret the ending of the novel? Explain.

What aspects of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe seem to question or criticize? How does
Achebe use characters like Obierika, Okonkwo, and Nwoye to offer such social criticism of Igbo
society? How do the people of Umuofia react to change?