Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” Book Review
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is set towards the offset of the 1800s. The protagonist goes by the name Okonkwo. He has lived all his life resenting the poverty that his father represented and the man he was. In his adult life, Okonkwo becomes, extremely wealthy, but is strict and withdrawn from his wives and children. He commits a crime by killing a boy who was under his care during the non – violence week of peace. As a result, he is banished from the community. During the period of exile, white missionaries come to his village and spread the Christian gospel. Okonkwo is shocked by this conversion upon his return because his son is amongst those that were converted (Achebe, 179). Okonkwo constantly battles with the missionaries to the point where he murders one of them. His struggle with all the mixed emotions he goes through causes him to take his own life.
The salient ideas in the novel are religion, culture, and materialism. This three are the major struggles through which the protagonist encounters throughout his existence. The auxiliary points are sin, gender inequality, and communication. These ones play a less outstanding, but a substantial part in the protagonist’s life.
Okonkwo fights the issue of religion with every last bone in him. He feels that religion is a waste of the hard-earned position that the Ibo culture has garnered in the hearts of his people. He is of the strong inclination that the Ibo Culture cannot be undermined, as it does not compare to the Christian religion that the white man brings. He believes that only those that have a weak stance would choose the white man’s religion over the strong belief structure of the Ibo (Achebe, 192).
The novel explores the backwardness and mythical beliefs that the Ibo people had before the white men set in. It explores how much of people’s entire life can actually be based on the existence of certain belief systems to the point where they could take their own lives. There is an illustration of the fact that people could live in perpetual ignorance and yet never doubt their lifestyle until they learn that there is an alternative and much more acceptable lifestyle. Achebe portrays a battle of a man that has all he wants, including a reputation that precedes him with his inner conscious.
I agree with the salient ideas in the novel. This is because so many times in human existence people depend on others around them to guide them without even knowing that the people they look up to could themselves be lost. The novel illustrates that as strong, independent and authoritative as a person may look they have their points of human weakness. Thus, I have observed, with people in positions of power that end up losing it all because they succumb to unrealistic religious convictions or vices such as adultery. The books outlook on the concept of humanity and the battles that make it up is out rightly accurate.
Achebe’s flow of ideas is easy and comprehensible. He does not attempt to force many ideas into the reader’s capacity all at once. Rather, he simply relays his ideas to the reader through simple storytelling. Before portraying the weaknesses of the protagonists, he builds his strengths and ensures that the reader is empathetic towards him. It is for the sole reason that Okonkwo’s life has aspects similar to every human being’s life that Things Fall Apart.
Achebe, A. Things Fall Apart. West Minister: Random House, 1994.