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A characterization of okonkwo in chinua achebes novel things fall apart

But it offers far more than access to pre-colonial Nigeria and the cataclysmic changes brought about by the British. Chinua Achebe is the ideal teller of this story, born in Nigeria in 1930 and growing up in the Igbo town of Ogidi.

  • His fanaticism and nonbending stance set the stage for the imposition of European rule of government and law;
  • However, he refuses to show affection because he thinks it is a sign of weakness, and he is disappointed that she is not a son.

He spoke Igbo at home and studied English in school, imbibing the dual culture. Achebe is in great demand throughout the world as a speaker and visiting lecturer, and is presently teaching at Bard College in New York. Achebe uses that most English of literary forms, the novel, to make his story accessible to Westerners, and interlaces the narrative with Igbo proverbs and folktales.

The novel challenges Western notions of historical truth, and prods readers into questioning our perception of pre-colonial and colonial Africa. More than half the novel is devoted to a depiction of Igbo culture, artfully drawn as we follow the rise to eminence of the protagonist. As a champion wrestler and a great warrior, Okonkwo is a natural leader.

His flaw, however, is that he never questions the received wisdom of his ancestors. For this reason he is not drawn in a flattering light, but his culture is given a full and fair depiction. He would rather play his flute than repay his debts.

Things Fall Apart Teacher’s Guide

It follows, then, that land, a full barn, expensive titles, and many wives confer status. Our protagonist is ambitious. Indeed, one of his flaws is his fear of failure, of becoming like his father. Viewing society from the inside, students can make inferences about why a high value is accorded to clan solidarity, kinship, and hospitality, and the reasons for courtship and funeral customs.

In a culture without written language, the arts of conversation and oration are prized. Wisdom is transmitted through proverbs, stories, and myths. The agrarian cycle of seasons, with their work and festivals, the judicious use of snuff and palm wine, the importance of music and dance, all could be noted and compared to similar Western mores.

Law and justice keep the peace, pronouncing on a land dispute or the killing of a clansman. A priestess and masked tribesmen interpret the Oracle, speaking for ancestors and gods. They enforce taboos against twins and suicide, and offer explanations for high infant mortality. The second and third parts of the novel trace the inexorable advance of Europeans.

The first white man to arrive in a nearby village is killed because of an omen, and in retribution all are slaughtered by British guns. Christian missionaries seem to be madmen, their message of wicked ways and false gods attractive only to outcasts. But along with Christianity come hospitals and schools, converting farmers to court clerks and teachers.

Things Fall Apart Characters and Analysis

Trading stores pay high prices for palm oil. Government is closely linked to religion and literacy. Okonkwo, upholder of the ways of his ancestors, is inevitably cast in the role of tragic hero.

In exile during the first years of colonization, he has less understanding of the power of the Europeans than his now-passive kinsmen.

His doom is swift and sure. This guide uses the contemporary spelling, Igbo, rather than Ibo. It provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual society.

These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing the life of nature, history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Things Fall Apart is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within. The novel is structured in three parts.

  1. Ikemefuna Okonkwo took in this boy from a nearby village.
  2. She calls her mother by her name and Ekwefi treats the child like a peer.
  3. Under his watch, things remain peaceful. It provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual society.

What do the divisions reflect about the stages of life of the protagonist? How do the divisions move toward and illustrate the collapse of Igbo society? What is the point of view of the narrator? How does the point of view contribute to our understanding of the conflicting cultures? What techniques does the narrator use to evoke a participatory role for the reader? How does this contrast with the ending, when Okonkwo is deliberating about an adequate response to the British humiliation of the Igbo elders in jail?

Achebe uses storytelling flashbacks to describe the relationship of Okonkwo and Unoka. What do the flashbacks reveal about their relationship? What is the effect of the use of storytelling to illustrate the flashbacks?

In Chapter One, how does Achebe foreshadow the presence and ultimate fate of Ikemefuna? Describe the judicial function of the egwugwu and its relationship to the living, particularly to Igbo women. Why is it also related to the spiritual world? How does Achebe illustrate the blending of the spiritual and real worlds? How does the killing of Ikemefuna foreshadow the fall of Okonkwo?

Why is Okonkwo exiled? Why is the exile ironic?

  1. Does their role make them less valuable than men? Achebe is in great demand throughout the world as a speaker and visiting lecturer, and is presently teaching at Bard College in New York.
  2. His doom is swift and sure. This string of successes is interrupted when he accidentally kills a man and is forced into exile for seven years.
  3. Why do the community celebrations make Okonkwo unhappy?
  4. What do these rituals reveal about the level of sophistication of pre-colonial Igbo civilization? Under his watch, things remain peaceful.
  5. He is the most authentic representative and protector of traditional society. Compare and contrast him with other white colonists.

When and how is the white man introduced? What attitudes toward the Igbo people do the white men bring and how do their attitudes determine their treatment of the Igbo people?

How does Achebe use incidents to paint the general character of the white colonizers? Character and Conflict 1. How does Okonkwo achieve greatness as defined by his culture? Why is Unoka, who suffers from a swelling in the stomach, left to die in the evil forest? How does Okonkwo differ from his father?

What are his feelings toward his father? Cite examples in the attitude and actions of Okonkwo that show the Igbo division of what is considered manly and what is considered womanly. Why is Okonkwo unhappy with his son and heir? How do his feelings toward Nwoye compare with his feelings toward Ikemefuna? Why is Ikemefuna killed? How does Nwoye react to the sacrifice? Okonkwo changes significantly after the killing of Ikemefuna. Why does Nwoye convert to Christianity?

How does his conversion affect his relationship with his father? How is his portrayal different from the Igbo characters? Compare and contrast him with other white colonists. How do his actions show disdain for Igbo traditions? Setting and Society 1. The novel begins in Umuofia and ends in Umuofia.

  • Imagery and Language 1;
  • When and how is the white man introduced?
  • Okonkwo treats him like a son, and Nwoye learns under his tutelage and regards him as the older brother he never had;
  • They enforce taboos against twins and suicide, and offer explanations for high infant mortality.

What surprises you about life in an African tribal community? What preconceptions did you bring to your reading that were either reinforced or changed? Why do the community celebrations make Okonkwo unhappy? Igbo culture is patriarchal. What is the role of women in the community? Does their role make them less valuable than men? How does wife beating reflect the community attitude toward women? Near the beginning of the novel, we learn that Okonkwo has several wives.

What does this arrangement reveal about family life in the community? Describe the Igbo extended family system.

  • Achebe uses that most English of literary forms, the novel, to make his story accessible to Westerners, and interlaces the narrative with Igbo proverbs and folktales;
  • Wishing to show his strength and his loyalty to village traditions, Okonkwo strikes the fatal blow;
  • How does the point of view contribute to our understanding of the conflicting cultures?
  • How does it affect individuals?
  • How does the killing of Ikemefuna foreshadow the fall of Okonkwo?

How does it help Okonkwo to survive his exile in Mbanta? Compare and contrast Umuofia and Mbanta. How do their similarities and differences add to an understanding of the Igbo culture?

TEACHING GUIDE

A significant social marker in Igbo society is the honorific title system. Describe how the use of titles allows Igbo members to compare themselves with each other.

What is the symbolic meaning of the Week of Peace for the Igbo people? Agriculture is important in the Igbo community. How does sharecropping contribute to the prosperity of the community? How does it affect individuals? What is the significance of the yam? What is the purpose of the New Yam Festival? How is it related to the religion of the community?

Things Fall Apart Characters

Explain the concept of ogbanje. Show how it is reflected in the relationship of Ekwefi and Ezinma. What do these rituals reveal about the level of sophistication of pre-colonial Igbo civilization? How does pre-colonial life in Umuofia differ from Western society? Cite examples of any similarities and differences.