Things Fall Apart – Personal Response

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe showed readers an intense insight into African clan cultures. Whilst strongly focusing on the African clan traditions resembling some kind of religious acts, christianity is contrarily introduced through missionaries called the “White men”. This opposing storyline and the clashes and conflicts arising between the two populations really reflects upon current world issues, raising global significance towards conflicts such as discrimination, violence, misunderstanding and inequality.

Personally, I really enjoyed reading the book, as it made me reflect upon my own interactions with the African culture. The character Okonkwo interested me most, as this dichotomy between Okonkwo and his father was weaved in throughout the entire novel and in my opinion really reflected onto Okonkwo’s actions in the clan. This almost toxic dislike towards his father ended up making him resemble his father more than anyone else. Throughout the beginning, Okonkwo tried so hard to be the opposite of what his father, which eventually, towards the end of the novel, made him repeat his fathers mistakes and gain enemies just the same way.

Furthermore, I found it really interesting how Achebe used gender to distinguish whether a person was strong, determined and possessed with leadership skills in the group or rather just a silent follower and not anyone of great significance. Strong characters were referred to as men, whereas people who made even the slightest mistake were immediately distinguished as women. This makes one question why women are necessarily used as a comparison in this case. Are the societal standards really this discriminating, making women less valued than men? Looking at such conflicts and regulations for gender equality nowadays, an example like this would make such a statement or use of words within the novel fairly controversial or even unacceptable.

Lastly, the hardest part for me whilst reading Things Fall Apart was really getting into the characters and feeling sympathy for the consequences of their actions. Okonkwo as well as other characters who were punished, to me, all seemed to have at least deserved it a little bit and so picking out the “hero” or the “favorite main character” was not possible.

Things Fall Apart Personal Response

After reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, I really like how the author includes important topics in the story and not only colonialism. He includes the role of men and women in society, masculinity, folklores, cultures and their destruction.

In this book, there are a lot of references to the role of men and women in their society. It caught to my attention how the author refers to that topic by adding it to descriptions of their culture.  The author shows a gap between the role of men and the role of women. In the clans, men’s role is more important than women’s role, however, it shows contrast as the one in charge of the Oracle is a woman. It also shows contrast in the power of some goddesses. There are some expressions and cultural practices that show this gap. For example, the bride price for a man to show care for the bride, yams are for men to grow and the other crops are for women to grow, ceremonies being classified if it is for men or women by the way the crowd stood or sat, and crimes having two kinds, male and female, where female crimes are inadvertent.

The author includes masculinity as part of the characterization of Okonkwo, who is willing to be the ideal men in his clan. The author expresses this idea with Okonkwo’s thoughts in the story like, having the fear of failure and weakness, to show affection is a sign of weakness, a true man control his women and children. Including this idea in the story with the main character raises the question if Okonkwo is a tragic hero? Understanding the story, we can see that Okonkwo is one of the few who thinks that war, titles and strength are the most important. Although he is one of the strongest men in his clan, his ideas takes him to kill himself because no one thinks the same. Does this makes him a tragic hero?

I think that folklores in this story is very important as it creates a clearer understanding of their society and culture before colonialism. Folklores shows how colonialism affect the clan and their believes. This topic makes me raise the question; to what extent do folklores influence our actions?

Finally, I like how this book makes you reflect on the real meaning of globalization after all the colonialism around the world and the different ways it affected a lot of cultures.


I enjoyed reading and analyzing the novel: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. I also found it interesting how the story is separated into three different parts, possibly symbolizing three stages of European colonization in Africa. Those from Umuofia regarded speaking to be a skill that they praised. Ironically their downfall is at the hands of the white man who cannot speak their language. I felt that the use of proverbs diminished after the second part of the novel. 

Achebe creates the dichotomy between Okonkwo and his father from the very start of the novel, allowing for questions to be raised as to the male roles in a patriarchal society. Umuofia uses gender roles and traditions within families and in the greater society to keep the people following a certain kind of leader. The culture in Umuofia works as a governmental system as well as a faith. The traditions of Umuofia raise questions as to how culture may influence leadership in society. In today’s time government, culture, and religion are still often mixed together, leading to dangers of misrepresentation, and the creation of out-groups stemming from the popularity of a dominant religion. 

I also found it interesting how tradition and ways of thinking, differed between those who were part of the Igbo culture and those who were part of Christianity. Igbo is shown on many accounts that its theologies provide freedom for the person to choose what they believe in; it’s not up to the community or the person to convert him. With the colonization of the Europeans, Achebe demonstrates another face of religion, in which there is only one right way to believe, and those who disagree are ostracized. Achebe shows a gradual shift in the theologies of the people of Umuofia throughout the three parts of the novel. At the beginning of the story, the death of a Umuofian woman sparks retribution, and Ikemefuna must pay the price with his life, despite him having no correlation with the matter. This may show the theologies of the people and making wrongs right. This changes at the end of the story when the leaders of Umuofia are taken by the Christians. They are beaten, whipped,  starved, deprived of a restroom, and disgraced by shaving their heads. When they are finally returned to Umuofia, they do not take action to find retribution for the Christians, despite the people’s energy and sorrow at what had been done. The contrasting of these two instances reveals the change the people of Umuofia experienced throughout European colonization. 

From the death of Okonkwo, colonization is shown through a darker lens. Not only does colonization kill those who fight against it, but it leads Okonkwo into such deep despair that he would take his own life, despite the societal construct that it is unacceptable and a sign of weakness. Okonkwo is portrayed as the ultimate form of despair, from being well respected to taking his own life. Raising the question of how much people deserve.

I greatly enjoyed reading the novel, however, it was slow at times. Achebe raised important questions pertaining to colonization, culture, religion, and masculinity. 

Things Fall Apart Reflection

Of the many intriguing questions Achebe presents in his book, Things Fall Apart, perhaps the final portions, when white men are colonizing the local people, reminds readers the most of the title. It is the downfall of freedom in the societies of black tribal people, but at the same time bringing new chances for societal advancements. Achebe presents this contradiction by showing readers’ Okonkwo’s sadness towards the colonization of his village. He also presents the shocking benefits that the white men are willing to give to the tribal people. Finally, Okonkwo’s death towards the ends completely shut downs the potential for everything to return to once it was before.

Okonkwo’s reaction of his own village begins the quite, sad realization of the downfall against white men, creating sympathy for him from the readers. They might somehow relate to him too as culture itself is a subjective topic: it develops from the ground up. This means that culture is the product of the culmination from the land people live in, before culture there are natural orders that one should follow. Therefore, no one has the right to interrupt the natural flow of things. Okonkwo is a great example of what an Umuofian man is: he understands the importance of his own practices, the rules and the value of masculinity through the dispute against his very own father. Although today’s standard will seriously questions Okonkwo’s masculinity, it is something that defines him. In this way, Achebe more or less frames him as the representative of the Umuofian culture as a whole. For Okonkwo to be so sad shows the true descent of his culture.

Despite the cruel reality, the situation is surprisingly somewhat brighter than that, which starts the question of whether or not if colonization is so terrifying. In the beginning of Chapter 21, Achebe describes the wealth the white men provides for Umuofia: trading of palm-oil and kernel brings great fortune for them. Not only that, Mr. Brown even promises education for the villagers so that the villagers can maintain control of their land. Although these are clear advantages for the villagers, it is clear how the oppressors are manipulating them. They buy natural resources with a high price so that villagers can comfortably rely on their economy. Additionally, the colonizers trap them into the education trap because clearly, the irony is that they are the one controlling them. So now, Umuofians can comfortably sell away their freedom, relying on the benefits that they get from the colonizers. One might argue that such sacrifice is, at best, ignorant or at worst, foolish, but there is a catch. If Umuofians are to succeed in pushing away the white men, they will go back to their life before, which is restrictive, both economically and in terms of education. Their cultural practices will continue to be disregarded from the outside as well as potentially inside their community. Therefore, this matter calls into the question of freedom: what is freedom? And is there any “true” freedom that one can grasp of?

Finally, the death of Okonkwo leaves a bitter conclusion in the face to preserve originality of a culture. Just when Okonkwo kills himself, his own tribe leaves him behind as a disgrace, labelling his action as a sin against the earth. The ending turns off any hope for things to go back the way before. It marks the descent of a hero, from achieving the greatest of heights for his people, only to fall down rapidly to the level of a dog, as Obierika bitterly says. In this way, readers can see how the people of Umuofia still somewhat preserve their own beliefs, but not in a way that is meaningful. It is not meaningful that they do not set exceptions for such heroic action of Okonkwo but simply lies to themselves that they are doing the right course of actions. That to rely on the white men to do their favor of bringing Okwonko down is right. In a way, the people of Umuofia is not only the slaves for the white men, but also the ones who surrenders in the face of their very own culture.

Things Fall Apart is a great piece of literature for raising questions about masculinity, the role of women and the importance of culture in the face of colonization. Okonkwo at first appears as a typical man who is strong, one-dimensioned masculine, over time, reveals to readers the other sides of him that he can be fearful, anxious in the face of great disasters. The book also presents many aspects of tribal culture that feels truly original and real, in the support of Achebe’s raw language. Something that is worth questioning from the examination of colonization is that what if it never happened? What if history goes on with cultures never crossing each other and only preserves everything about it? How would it feel then to have everywhere in the world be truly distinct from one another? It would seem that the world could be what everyone never imagined before.

Things Fall Apart PR

I enjoyed reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I never thought about missionaries this way and can now imagine how much they changed the African culture. The story seems to favour Christianity as the missionaries prove the Umuofian people’s beliefs wrong.

The main character Okonkwo is portrayed as the Umuofianian image of masculinity. The reader automatically does not like his image as he constantly loses his temper and beats his wives. Later on in the story, we begin to feel sorry for him as he is the only one who seems to want to fight back against the white missionaries. We learn his story and can understand why he acts the way that he does. This of course is not forgiveness for the bad he has done but we judge him less than we used to. At first I did not like Okonwko but as I learned about his past and when many members of his clan convert to Christianity I began to take his side. I almost felt bad as Umuofia did not have any fight left in them. Only Okonkwo seemed to want to defend their culture, and religion.

The “white man” in the novel are portrayed as bad people. They come in peacefully to  try to convert the African people to Christianity but once someone tries to stop them or cause them harm they come guns blazing. The white British people, like Okonkwo, do not seem to care about how people feel about them. This was interesting to read and I feel bad for what white colonialists have done to villages in Africa and around the world.

Things Falling Apart

How does Chinua Achebe show the pressures of masculinity through the characterization of Okonkwo? 

   Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was very engaging, unique’s novel explored many themes, including colonization and cultural change. The novel raised questions about what true power was and the pressures of men within society. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo is seen as a strong warrior who represents the ideal man in the Ibo society. Throughout the novel, we see him treat his wives and children harshly due to his high expectations. However, he stands out in the community due to his success and well-being as a man. In parts 1 and 2 of the novel, we are introduced to the Ibo culture and the values of the Ibo community, which is rich in culture, including elaborate belief systems, communal gatherings, justice, ceremonies, unique agriculture,  and overall the importance of community and working together. This novel portrays the effects of colonialism and the true pressures of masculinity through the characterization of Okonkwo and the diction used. 

   The pressure of masculinity in society can be seen through the characterization of Okonkwo. This is due to his fear of becoming anything like his father and is clearly stated within the novel. “Perhaps down in his heart, Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo’s fear was greater than this. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father” (p.13). This is evident as he acts aggressively and harshly towards his wives and children when upset, beating and shouting regardless of his belief system: “[Okonkwo] walked back to his obi to await Ojiugo’s return. And when she returned, he beat her very heavily. In his anger, he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm, pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody halfway through, not even for fear of a goddess.” (p.20). It is evident that he values personal power even if that means avoiding the rules of the clan because of power; however, in the novel, we see him suffering internally because men were supposed to stay strong, show no emotion, and, of course, never act as “women .”Throughout the novel, we see that Okonkwo does not show emotion even towards the people he likes, including Ikemefuna, which he is very close to; “Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly unless it is the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness” (pg. 23). This hardship was experienced by Okonkw after having to kill Ikemefuna orders from the Oracle, where suffered because of his actions killing Ikemufuna due to societal pressures and status and not being seen as weak. 

   Toxic masculinity is seen through the actions of Okonkwo due to acting out harshly and being whatever the father was not. Even when colonization happens, by the end, we see Okonkwo refuse to witness the falling of everything he has devoted and worked for in his entire life. He is determined to not throw it all away for a new society where he would be powerless and have no status because he is not considered equal to the colonizers.