22 Jun 2022


Critique of Things Fall Apart

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The novel Things Fall Apart was authored by Chinua Achebe, a renowned African writer. It is broken down into three parts with the last being the shortest and the first the longest. The first part depicts a vindictive tribal life of a Nigerian community. It also introduces the protagonist, Okwonkwo and the complexities of rituals and cultures of Igbo people which serve as the background. Achebe displays Okwonkwo’s strengths and highlights his obsession to succeed. His impulsive and irrational behavior is also revealed when dealing with his family. He does not show love to his children and his three wives. The villagers’ religious faiths, superstitions, and traditions are well captured through the agricultural patterns, ceremonies, and the Egwugwu (Whittaker, 2011). The second part describes Okwonkwo’s life in exile, and the final part explains his return from seven-year exile only to find that so much has changed after the entry of the invasion by the white colonialists. He is disappointed that so many villagers have been converted to Christianity and there is no excitement about his return. Okwonkwo observes the cruelty of the District Commissioner to the village elders, and this compels him to decapitate one of their emissaries. He finally hangs himself after realizing that the clan members do not support him in rebelling against the Colonials. The end of the novel is ironic because the District Commissioner views the outcome as his determined way to the native population. He only records Okwonko’s tragedy in his book “The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” (Achebe, 2001). In the end, Achebe is critical of the British for their insensitivity and also laments Okwonkwo’s death. 

Organizational Development 

Achebe uses several descriptions such as marriage customs, community shared leadership, family and social rituals, religious beliefs and practices and trial processes to reveal the complexity and sophistication of the Igbo society before European in the Niger region. He uses the book to illustrate Okwonkwo’s virtual effort to ascend the ladder of prosperity by his means. He the clearly illustrates how Okwonkwo’s fear of becoming a failure and weak like his father leads to his deterioration and ultimate fall. Culture clash is clearly illustrated both societal and individual, the cultural intolerance and misunderstanding exhibited by Africans who view Christians as foolish and on the other hand, Christians see Africans as heathens. The two rival factions feel that their opponents need realignment (Achebe & James, 2010). Achebe uses this novel to encourage Africans to not to perceive erroneously their cultures especially those that have acquired western education. Personality differences are also well highlighted. Okwonkwo is highly inflexible upon the European arrival unlike his good friend Obierika who is a more rational and reasonable. Here, fate takes its course where the introduction of a new culture speeds up Okwonkwo’s demise. It is ironical! Achebe ingeniously uses the character of Mr. Brown to illustrate the crafty way the Europeans used to convert more Africans. Mr. Brown a more accommodative missionary succeeds to penetrate the deep culture and converts even Okwonkwo’s best friend. Perhaps, should Okwonkwo had been a little flexible; he might have succeeded to lead his community to fight against the colonizers. 

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In conclusion, the Igbo’s failure to stay unified by having a decentralized leadership and their inconsiderate treatment of some of their own made then become colonial victims. 


Achebe, C. (2001). Things fall apart: Cliff notes . New York: Wiley. 

Achebe, C., & James, P. F. (2010). Things Fall Apart . Place of publication not identified: 


Whittaker, D. (2011). Chinua Achebe's Things fall apart: 1958-2008 . New York: Rodopi. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Critique of Things Fall Apart.


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