Montana – Things Fall Apart PR

I always had difficulty understanding how the structure and diction could massively change the understanding of a text. Things Fall Apart has been one of the best examples from my understanding. Shifting from feminist books such as The Colour Purple, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles, to Things Fall Apart was not a smooth transition. Achebe’s simplistic phrases were on par with Hardy’s illustrious and lengthy descriptions, creating equally vibrant images. I initially found it difficult to get used to Achebe’s uncomplicated writing style, but there was never a point where it impeded my understanding of Onkonkwo’s story. Achebe’s uncomplicated diction and structure of Things Fall Apart worked together to evoke a vivid personal response for me.

Achebe’s straightforward diction toward Onkonkwo’s feelings left me in shock. Raw descriptions of Onkonkwo’s outbursts cling to my memory my brain, similar to a traumatic reoccurring event, specifically when he

ran madly into his room for the loaded gun, ran out again and aimed at [Ikemefuna] as she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn. He pressed the trigger and there was a loud report accompanied by the wail of his wives and children. He threw down the gun and jumped into the barn, and there lay the woman, very much shaken and frightened but quite unhurt (p. 39)

Achebe presents Onkonkwo’s anger clearly, and irrefutably. The objective truth is that Onkonkwo “ran madly into his room for the loaded gun” and not for any other reason. One of the main reasons I found this so shocking is that interpretations and guesses were an integral part of analyzing previous works. There aren’t any eloquent descriptors, instead, Achebe uses stark, exact, near-elementary language you feel forced to understand.  You can’t hide behind misinterpretation, as you may be able to do in Hardy or Ibsen.

The context of the culture and spirituality of the Umuofia clan allowed the passionate expression of Ekwefi’s motherly love for her daughter to be realized in its entirety. I adored the scene of Ekwefi following her daughter and the Oracle. It was an intense humanizing moment for her, especially as a woman, which touched me deeply. Knowing her trouble with children in the past, we understand how Ekwefi feels when she says “that if she heard Ezinma cry she would rush into the cave to defend her against all the gods in the world. She would die with her” (p. 108). In the context of how important the various gods are for Umuofia, Ekwefi shows a true allegiance towards her family over her spiritual beliefs. I would love to watch this scene in a cinematic retelling, I can imagine it so clearly. The emotional impact of Ekwefi’s loyalty as a mother left me appreciative of my family, especially of my mother, as I wonder if she would stand against the gods for me too.

Things Fall Apart PR

I had mixed feelings about “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. There were things I did and did not like about the book.

One thing I really liked was how Okonkwo reminded me of characters in Greek tragedies. He is neither completely good nor bad, but is flawed enough to be granted our sympathy. Also, I liked how many characters were not two-dimensional, but were complex and well-written. For instance, when Okonkwo kills the 16-year-old son of Ezeudu, “Obierika and half a dozen other friends came to console him” (pg. 124). Okonkwo typically demonstrates what today we call “toxic masculinity”. He is often devoid of emotions that he deems to demonstrate weakness, such as empathy. However, Achebe crafts a more emotional and tragic version of his protagonist. This was one of my favorite aspects of the novel, being Achebe’s masterful and unique approach to characterization.

However, one thing that inhibited me from enjoying the novel to the fullest extent that I could was the fact that “Things Fall Apart” is very different culturally. For instance, the names of places and characters, as well as Achebe’s use of a traditional Ido narratiuve technique, resulted in a greater difficulty regarding comprehension and in-depth understanding of the novel. However, I want to reiterate that this “drawback” is not the fault of Achebe, but rather my own lack of cultural background knowledge.