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Ilse Lackner ilse.lackner@gmx.


Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe

Facts about the author:
Chinua achebe was born in Ogidi, in Eastern Nigeria, in 1930.His father was one of the early Ibo converts to Christianity who was evangelist and teacher in the church Missionary Societys village school.Chinua attended his fathers school and having started to learn English at about the age of eight, went on to Government College, in 1944.In 1948 he entered University College and began to study medicine in Ibadan where he graduated in 1953.After teaching for a few months, he joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1954 as a Talks Producer and rose, by way of being Head of the Talks Section (1957) and Controller, Estern Region (1959), to become Director of External Services in 1961.His job took him on long journeys about Nigeria and, as he drove, his mind was busy reviewing the history and life of his people and casting this mass of unique material in the classical fictional moulds he had studied at university.This resulted, in 1958, in the publication of his first novel, Things fall Apart.It was an immediate success and he won the Margaret Wrong Prize.No Longer At Ease was published in 1960 and won the Nigerian National Trophy.Arrow of God came out in 1964 and his fourth, and so far his last, novel, A Man of the People, appeared in 1966. With the massacre of the Ibos in Northern Nigeria in 1966 and the beginning of the Nigerian Troubles, he resigned from the Broadcasting Corporation and moved back to Eastern Nigeria.During the civil war he taught for two years in the United States.The Biafran conflict and his experiences with the war have had a profound effect on Achebe.He wrote about these effects in several essays(Girls at War 1971,a collection of short stories which concern the war). Now he wanted to show how an experience with such a tragic war can change ones attitude to life.

The novel Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe is about a small village in Nigeria, called Umuofia. The novel is divided into three chapters. At the end of the nineteen century the Europeans came to West America were they tried to impose their culture and their religion to the Africans. All inhabitants of Umuofia belonged to the same clan which meant that they shared the same customs and helped each other. The whole village was very religious. However, they had their own religion because they believed in several gods. In same way the people lived isolated because they had no contact to the rest of the world. They were farmers and produced things such as palm oil, that they used to cook. One of the villages leading person was Okonkwo. He really had great influence on the other people. However, the relationship to his son was difficult because he was scared that his son Nwoye would grow up like his grandfather Unoko who didnt work hard enough. One day life in Umuofia changed completely. The Europeans came and destroyed the neighbour-village. At the first moment the people were totally shocked of the white men. Then missionaries from Europe went to Africa because they want the Africans to become Christians. The white men worked very hard to persuade them. Consequently more and more people were exploited by the white men and joined the new religion.

Ilse Lackner

Okonkwo could not trust his eyes because now his ideas were not so important anymore.The white men gained more and more influence. The brought a new kind of government, built new courts and judged people who disobeyed the new laws. The missionaries built new churches, hospitals and now schools were started. It was a great thing for many inhabitants because they could learn to write and read. Apart from these facts the Europeans improved trading and Umuofia was getting rich. While the others were interested in the new religion or the new government Okonkwo tried to preserve his customs. Even his son joined Christianity and Okonkwo was left alone with his ideas. Only his best friend Obierika could understand him but he knew that there was no way out because the people only saw the good things the white men had brought. The white men spread control over the whole village. Okonkwo could not bear the pressure and decided to punish the white men for what they had done. He killed one chief official. Afterwards he noticed that life would never be like in the old days. In his opinion there was no other solution and he commited suicide.

Main characters
___________________________________________________________________________ Okonkwo___________________________________________________________________ The principle character of Things Fall Apart is Okonkwo.At the beginning he is a strong man who fights against things he doesnt agree.Whenever he is angry and cant get his words out quickly enough, he uses hid fists.He has no patience with unsuccessful men because he cant imagine being not successful.He is a wealthy farmer, has just married his third wife and he is a man of war that make him one of the greatest men of his time.However, he also has faults but he is always too proud to admit that he is mistaken, which his clansmen see as a defect in his character.In all, on the good side he id brave, hardworking and energetic but on the bad side he is unbending and inflexible, unwilling to change his traditional way of life.He knows that the people of Umuofia will not fight with him.However he cant live with this people who have destroyed his world and consequently he chooses to commit suicide, the most shameful way to die for a man like he was. ___________________________________________________________________________ Unoka_____________________________________________________________________ Unoka, his father, is the opposite of Okonkwo.He is weak, idle, improvident, unsuccessful and interested in the softer and more kindly aspects of life.Okonkwo tries as much as possible to be unlike his father.He is ashamed of Unoka. ___________________________________________________________________________ Nwoye_____________________________________________________________________ Nwoye is like his grandfather which makes Okonkwo feel angry.He doesnt want to have a son like his father.So he keeps beating Nwoye and exactly this is the wrong thing he does because Nwoye is very sensitive and begins to be afraid of his father.At first he hesitates to join the Christians, but his fathers violence and opposition finally drive him away to attend the mission-school in Umuofia.The new religion gives some sort of answer to the problems that have troubled him before.

Ilse Lackner

___________________________________________________________________________ Obierika____________________________________________________________________ Obierika is a man who thinks about things.He is a man who will obey the law but not blindly.Although he doesnt know what to do about the established order of things when he feels it to be wrong, he nevertheless questions it.He sees how mens faiths must adjust to new circumstances and not bring destruction by blind adherence to the old ways.

The main theme of Things Fall Apart is that of change and the affects on society.New ideasnew ideas in religion, in law, in political, economic and social structure-have their affects on people.These affects have often been noticed in history, for example, when a country has changed its political system (as in revolution) or when an agriculture-based economy has changed to one based on industrialisation.Violence is often a result of such changes.The tragedy of Okonkwo is one expression of that violence.There must have been similar tragedies in history when similar characters have tried to oppose change.