Things Fall Apart

ISBN: 0273012169
ISBN 13: 9780273012160
By: Chinua Achebe

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About this book

Things Fall Apart is an English-language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe published in 1958 by William Heinemann Ltd in the UK; in 1962, it was also the first work published in Heinemann's African Writers Series. Things Fall Apart is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. The title of the novel comes from William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming".Set in pre-colonial Nigeria in the 1890s, Things Fall Apart highlights the clash between colonialism and traditional culture. The novel shows the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion in Umuofia—one of a fictional group of nine villages in Nigeria, inhabited by the Igbo people (in the novel, "Ibo"). It describes his family and personal history, the customs and society of the Igbo, and the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community during the late nineteenth century.

Reader's Thoughts

Richard

Things Fall Apart Again, Raising More Questions(Warning: This is a skatebike review in that it combines elements of two classic forms – the anecdotal vignette and comprehensive literary analysis – to create an utterly useless monstrosity that is neither one nor the other. In short, you will be made to pedal really hard without getting anywhere.)I first read Things Fall Apart (TFA) as a teenager at school in Johannesburg. This was back in the early 1980s when Apartheid was girding its loins for the “Total Onslaught” from “Commies” gathering on our country’s northern borders. The following passage gives you some idea of the anxious atmosphere that had been contrived at the time:...“Boys in blue and grey uniforms are marching in the afternoon sun. Ten sad rectangles move back and forth between the rugby posts, like human concertinas easing out a tune as the back rows lag, catch up, then lag again. These are the men who will fight the acronyms that have launched a Total Onslaught on The Border: SWAPO, PAC, ANC, MPLA, FNLA, ZANU, ZAPU, UNITA. Some are bad, others good, say the papers, “but when push comes to shove, each and every one of them would rape your mother and hang you little white turds upside down by your balls,” says Mr Cloete, our PT teacher, an ex-drill sergeant.” The question that has plagued me since the 50th anniversary of Things Fall Apart is: why was this book prescribed to us at school? In retrospect, it seems odd that a book intended as a counterpoint to racist perspectives and narratives of Africa espoused in European literature should be placed on the reading lists of students who were, quite frankly, being overtly and covertly brainwashed with a view to perpetuating white dominance and privilege in South Africa. This seemed so implausible that I even began to doubt whether I had actually read TFA at school. But when I expressed these doubts previously, others confirmed that they too recalled having read the book at school. I soon decided that the only way to unravel this conundrum was to re-read this classic novel. Having done so – more than a year after announcing my intention – I fear I am not much closer to the truth. The world described in Things Fall Apart is not a pretty one. Much of the story revolves around Okonkwo, a power-hungry, wife-beating, son-killing potentate, whose only redeeming feature seems to be an unwavering struggle against more perverse forces encroaching on his realm. While there are other characters who represent a variety of alternative perspectives and moralities, the story paints a grim picture of a community governed by customs, traditions and superstitions threatened by an influx of white missionaries and colonists bringing their own customs, traditions and superstitions. To put it bluntly, the average reader might quite easily characterise the book as: black savages being threatened by white savages carrying more powerful weapons. Because I am not untainted – I was suckled on Apartheid’s grotesque breast – I began to wonder whether deep-seated remnants of racism may be causing me to miss the point of this story. Surely Achebe never intended to confirm or perpetuate common prejudice about Africans as savages eking out an existence on the edge of the forest, threatened by drought, war and disease? This question led me to the author’s essay “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’” (Massachusetts Review. 18. 1977. Rpt. in Heart of Darkness, An Authoritative Text, background and Sources Criticism. 1961. 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough, London: W. W Norton and Co., 1988, pp.251-261), which wasn’t too difficult to find online In this critique of Conrad’s classic, Achebe writes: “Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as ‘the other world,’ the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant beastiality.”Achebe subsequently cites various passages from Conrad’s book illustrating the racism underlying the author’s perspective on Africans. I have not read Heart of Darkness, but I am more than willing to take Achebe’s word for it that a white author, writing about Africa in the 19th century, would harbour some downright prejudicial views of any culture beyond his Anglo-Saxon frame of reference. Achebe himself arrives at a similar conclusion, but ultimately aims his sharpest arrow at the fact that Conrad’s book still ranks as a classic and is still a setwork for students of literature. “The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-long attitude has fostered and continues to foster in the world. And the question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art. My answer is: No, it cannot.”All of which brings me back to Things Fall Apart, which is, to the best my knowledge, today considered as much a classic of English literature as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It is often argued that Achebe wrote his book as a counterpoint to the narrow portrayal of Africa and Africans in European literature. One online study guide characterises TFA as follows: “Its most striking feature is to create a complex and sympathetic portrait of a traditional village culture in Africa. Achebe is trying not only to inform the outside world about Ibo cultural traditions, but to remind his own people of their past and to assert that it had contained much of value. All too many Africans in his time were ready to accept the European judgment that Africa had no history or culture worth considering.”But does Achebe’s novel indeed achieve this high-flown objective? Or does the fact that TFA was prescribed to us at high school in Apartheid South Africa point towards a more sinister side-effect of Achebe’s effort to redress Conrad’s one-sided perspective? Was it perhaps prescribed because it inadvertently confirms white prejudices about savage Africans eking out an existence on the edge of an evil jungle? One thing is certain, this book has set me scouring the internet for further analyses. Some of these have offered new insight into how the text should be read, and I have every intention of seeking out other texts on the topic. More specifically, samples of African scholars’ perspectives on this book. However, I doubt whether the average reader will take the trouble to do so. And I wonder whether they will be able to extract the true essence and meaning of this book without a guide to put things into perspective for them.In the closing passage of his essay, Achebe writes: “Although the work of redressing which needs to be done may appear too daunting, I believe it is not one day too soon to begin. Conrad saw and condemned the evil of imperial exploitation but was strangely unaware of the racism on which it sharpened its iron tooth. But the victims of racist slander who for centuries have had to live with the inhumanity it makes them heir to have always known better than any casual visitor even when he comes loaded with the gifts of a Conrad.”Is it possible that Achebe too was “strangely unaware” to what extent his book might be misinterpreted or misrepresented? And to what extent is my own re-reading of his novel tainted by the frame of reference from whence I come? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Chris

I'm a compulsive book marker. I underline and annotate so intently that, after a few reads, a book becomes fairly worthless to me for anything but study. My copy of TFA has, over the years, become such a text--a palimpsest in which I can no longer read the text itself and am forced instead to read what remains, the records of my previous readings of the text. This year, I was briefly without my well-worn copy and purchased a new one--crisp and freshie fresh. The result is that I was able to give this text what is perhaps my second first reading. Once I directly confronted the text itself again, it struck me with the wamping, whumping force that made me love this novel the first time. Few books infuriate me as effectively and fewer still stir up the storm of emotions this one does. By the time I was done, I was so emotionally spent that a bowl of pounded yams could have thrown me in a wrestling match.

Bethan

I enjoyed reading Things Fall Apart. It introduced me to a beguiling world of the completely foreign Nigerian tribal culture and practices - their stories, superstitions, gods, working and family set-ups. Simply and witchily presented, it made me think a lot, and it was honest in its presentation of people and sides, flaws and positives both. Halfway through the book showed the introduction of Christian missionaries and the tensions and conflicts with the native practices and way of life. The Christian missionaries ultimately broke a lot of that, pushed themselves dominantly into it to overcome and conquer the locals, and it seems a shame. I didn't like the Christian missionaries - I just don't get it - but at the same time I realise that as an agnostic-atheist there is something missing in me that means that I just cannot 'believe', and if you believe strongly in something, then it seems a natural conclusion to want to convince others of it. But having said that, I didn't like the traditional side of things much either. A lot of tradition is very conservative which is not a good fit for me either, although I am not saying that the Christians are that much better - lots of sexism, arguably irrational practices like that of throwing away twins because they were seen as an abomination. Both religion and tradition have a hard time moving with new understandings and sometimes even compassion and sensitivity for difference. In terms of the traditionalist side, this was why the protagonist Okonkwo alienated his eldest son Nwoye to the missionaries - because Okonkwo was not sensitive enough to difference and wanted to push his idea of what his son should be like onto Nwoye. This book kept me awake wondering just on what side to fall and then I remembered the words of Krishnamurti who would argue that religion and family and all that kind of stuff is not healthy and just causes division and conflict, so of course then, I came to the rather cool and possibly unexciting and uninteresting conclusion that the solution may lie in simply not having religion, not having superstitions, not having restrictive family set-ups, not having divisions but simply living as people with order and consideration for others. But are humans even capable of that? (I have been told that I am a dreamer !)

Malak Alrashed

This book absolutely falls under the category of "For Nigerians Only" because the writer takes you to a whole new world, a world of its own customs and I like that I love to read about other cultures and customs, but here in this book the writer doesn't introduce these customs properly before telling the story. For example: there's something mentioned in the book called The Holy Week which is clearly a sacred time when Nigerians are no longer allowed to fight or argue, but when exactly this week is? Every year? Every month? And why do they do it? Is it a part of the culture or of the religion there? These information are important to me! Or why it is so normal to the women of Nigeria to get beaten by their husbands? And there're so many things that are not explained well in the book I'm sure anyone who is not quite familiar with the culture of Nigeria would find it pretty difficult to keep track.Moreover, the frequent untranslated words and the names of the characters are just confusing! One should stick to ONE LANGUAGE if heshe is to write fiction.Now that I cleared out some points, there are still some things that annoyed me in the book, but I still can't find out what exactly they are. After finishing the book I went to Wikipedia and read the plot summary & I was affected by the summary more than the book itself! I Can't figure out why I mean the writing style is pretty simple, but I felt bored and puzzled while reading it. Sorry.

Fahad

الأشياء تتداعى يبدو أنني لا أتعلم من الدروس!! أجلت الكتابة عن هذا الكتاب كثيراً، انتهيت من قراءته في نوفمبر الماضي، وها قد مرت سبعة أشهر وهو ينتظر على مكتبي بإذعان!! قرأت كثيراً وكتبت كثيراً، ولكنه رغم جماله وقوته بقي مؤجلاً، فقط لأنني ويا للحمق كنت أرغب في أن أكتب عنه أفضل، وهو ليس لوحده في هذا المصير!! هناك كتب أخرى أجلت الكتابة عنها أيضاً، حتى فقدت الرغبة في ذلك وأعدتها إلى مكانها الدافئ في مكتبتي، ولكن قصة أوكونكوو لن تعيش هذا المصير، لن أفقد الرغبة في الكتابة عنها. أول ما فتنني في رواية غينوا أتشيبي هو عنوانها الملهم (الأشياء تتداعى) والذي استقاه من قصيدة لييتس، يا له من وصف حقيقي لسقوط وانتهاء عالم ما، عشنا فيه وظننا أنه دائم لا يزول، ولكن ها هو يتداعى وينتهي مخلفاً أنقاضاً هنا وهناك في ثقافتنا. نشر غينوا أتشيبي الروائي النيجيري روايته هذه سنة 1958 م، باللغة الإنجليزية وسرعان ما صارت من أشهر الروايات الأفريقية، كما قررت كمنهج دراسي في كثير من الدول الأفريقية. في هذه الرواية نعيش مع أوكونكوو الرجل القوي الذي بنى نفسه من الصفر وصار أقوى رجل في قريته، نعيش في عالم القرية الأفريقية ما قبل الاستعمار، دينها وعاداتها وخرافاتها، ثم تبدأ التحولات في الظهور، وهو ما يقلق أوكونكوو فيقف في وجهها، ويقاتل للحفاظ على عالمه كما عرفه، ولكن تتغير العادات، ويتغير الدين بازدياد المعتنقين للمسيحية، وعندما يقتل أوكونكوو مبعوثاً من الحكومة الاستعمارية تكون مغامرته قد انتهت. نهاية الرواية من أجمل النهايات والتي ذكرتني بنهاية (كل شيء هادئ على الجبهة الغربية) لإريك ماريا ريماك، فعلاً كل شيء يتداعى يا أوكونكوو.

Robert Beveridge

This is another classic example of "what in the world are you thinking assigning this to high school kids?" It's a pretty durned fine book, and there is much therein upon which to reflect, but I'm guessing the adolescent and recently-postadolescent crowd is going to feel a book like this is being rammed down their throats. And they're probably right.Thankfully, I'm a year or so too old to have been assigned this in school, and I picked up a copy vaguely remembering classmates below me had had to read it. Perhaps my lack of memory about much of my high school and college days is a good thing, because I went into this novel without any preconceptions. I also went into it having read a few books from Heinemann's African Writers Series over the past few months, so I have something of a grasp on what African novelists were doing in the late fifties. (Not a bad idea, actually, since the "storytelling" nature of such tales can be jarring to someone who's used to modern American lit-- for example, your typical high school student.) All this being the case, Things Fall Apart, considered by many western critics to be the premier work of African literature of this century, may be quite deserving of its laurels.Okonkwo is a tribal elder in Umuofia, a large village in southern Nigeria. He's the very essence of a self-made man, having inherited nothing from his father. Of course, events can't just go on day to day as we want them to, and a series of stumbling blocks face Okonkwo after he is given the care of a teenager the village has taken as a spoil of war.The book is compared to classical Greek tragedy, and there are certainly elements of it here. However (remembering recent reading in Abel), to cast this as a true Greek tragedy would force a reading that says the tribal gods sent Christian missionaries to Umuofia in order to punish Okonkwo for various transgressions. I'm about halfway to accepting that this is what Achebe was after, actually. Otherwise, one is forced to read this in kind of the same way as the old joke whose punchine is "Job, something about you just sporks me off."One way or the other, the writing is fluid, easy, and captivating, and the storytelling style is one I've always been drawn to (as opposed to the missionaries-- one white person, at the very end of the book, thinks to himself that one of the most annoying things about the tribe is their "superfluity"). I liked this one, surely more than my schoolmates who were assigned it. Those of you who were, and hated it, might want to try cleansing your palates with something by, say, Cyprian Ekwensi, or a different, lesser-known book by Achebe (A Man of the People would be a good start). Then tackle this one again. It's worth it.

Roy

I have been meaning to get around to this book for years. It did not disappoint. Things Fall Apart is the story of an African man named Okonkwo. He is an important man in his tribe and lives the way he understands a man's life is meant to be lived. To compensate for the weaknesses of his father his main purpose is to demonstrate strength. In order to achieve a greater degree of success he figures he must be more ambitious, aggressive, and domineering. And this is what he pulls off. So long as his place is firmly established in a world that is familiar to him, one in which he understands the rules and what it takes to excel, all is well. But after Christian missionaries arrive in the village we learn that this is not the story of a man, but rather, the chronicle of a way of life that is destined to fall. Okonkwo's gods fail to measure up against the Christian God mainly because ancient ways are always overwhelmed by the march of modernity. The gun is mightier than the machete, science outmatches superstition, and what on the surface appears to be a more compassionate way of life triumphs over barbarism because biblical cruelty is more cleverly disguised. A fascinating novel indeed.

Kira

The fact that this book sympathizes with yams more than it does the victims of imperialism is kind of shocking to me. I mean, I could sit here and praise Achebe for being a person of colour who really made it, because he did, and that deserves recognition, but does that mean I have to praise the content of this book? Because truth be told, I don't understand it. I don't understand how a book like this can manage to project the message that white = civilized, and black = barbarian. Maybe I missed something, here. Maybe I missed the big message I was supposed to have drawn from this book. Or maybe this book is just plain bad, and all these English teachers preaching about this over-hyped tripe being a classic are simply too afraid to address the fact that the writing is awful, characterization poor and the overall point completely muddled and blurred to the point of no return. The fact that this book is being praised by white teachers in front of white kids is kind of frightening, because what is it doing? It's not changing anyone's mind about imperialism. All it's doing is magnifying the less ideal parts of tribal life, and minimizing the damage done to said tribal life by white imperialism. This book literally rationalizes white violence and it has this really weird and sort of scary "if you can't beat 'em, join em" mentality (remember Nwoye? All we see is abuse when he's living with his black family, and then when the white people take him in, suddenly all his problems are solved and he's on the path to godliness. What a safe message to project on to the white west, right? It's not like we live in a culture that is desperate to associate black parenting with abuse.)The unsympathetic black characters just really drive this surprisingly racist message home. Was I supposed to give a shit that Okonkwo killed himself? He got what he deserved. I'm 100% positive that I was not supposed to be cheering for the death of the protagonist, but I couldn't help it. He was the most painful, headache-inducing person to waste time reading about. The author threw in so much blatantly obvious hubris that Okonkwo quit being interesting and became a rakey asshole. There comes a point where you have to let go and stop trying to force yourself to sympathize. It was clear, at the point of Okonkwo's death, that we weren't supposed to care anyway. Okonkwo is just another caricature of the Big Bad Black Man. A caricature that has been encouraging violence, murder and excessive punishment by the judicial system against men of colour since...well, forever. I don't want to bring up Florida, but can I please bring up Florida?It's not even like this book was well-written. It was heinously boring and slow, and things happened just for the sake of it. For example, the wedding served no plot purpose, and Okonkwo's exile just happened. The boy died in like, one paragraph, and then suddenly Okonkwo was in the other village, feeling sorry for himself and giving his children inappropriate names. That's another thing that got me; unimportant things took forever to happen, while big events were whisked away in a few sentences. That's bad pacing. That's bad writing, period.The only character I actually connected with was Nwoye, and this is a problem. It's a problem because Nwoye was the only character that anyone connected with, and he is a convert. He has essentially left his black tribal upbringing behind and joined the white imperalist church, and what drove him away was Okonkwo's abuse and the "really nice white guys". This dichotomy of Big Bad Black Men/Good God-Fearing White Men is exactly why Nwoye being one of the very few sympathetic characters is a problem - because the conflicting characterization of Nwoye and Okonkwo does nothing but cast the African tribal life that Nwoye was born into in a negative light. Good for Nwoye, the white readers say, as he joins the white church. Good for him for escaping the abusive hand of his black family! Nwoye is not white at all, and this reinforces the message even more powerfully: look at the nice white people taking in that black boy. Wow, how charitable of them!This White Guy Jesus complex is woven throughout this book in such an incredibly disturbing way. It's bad enough reading it as part of the story, but seeing it as something written by a Nigerian person is horrible. This is internalized racism at it's most frightening. Unsurprisingly, this book is also rife with horrific sexism, and it's that same sexism that only serves to promote this book's message: that black is bad. The black women in this book are abused in awful, disgusting ways, so much so that it's uncomfortable to watch. It's not about "look what the white men did to the black women" because the black women in this book only suffer under the authority of the black men. What is this reinforcing? Oh, yeah. Big Bad Black Man. Never mind that the women have absolutely no agency and no characteristics other than the creative ways in which they are abused. Ezinma is portrayed as having spunk, but to what end? All we expect for her is to be abused. How is this even accurate? White male imperialists were storming African countries and raping every black woman they could find. Where is this discussed? Nowhere. All we see are abusive black men and quiet justified white men. And in the background of it all? Commodified black women. They have no voice and their stories have no point, and all they do is give Okonkwo a reason to bitch and moan. All the women are there for is to be obstacles in the male characters' lives. How the hell is this okay?Granted, this was forced ENG3U reading. My teacher told me it was amazing, and this could mean two things: firstly, her white guilt was getting the better of her, or secondly, she wasn't doing her job properly. Because her job should not be to nod her head and feed her students racist/sexist crap stamped with the "classic" label. Her job ought to be instilling a profound knowledge and love of literature within her students, and that is what being critical of literature is all about.I freely admit that I hate this book. I hate what it represents and I hate that it's pretending to be a revolutionary piece of work when in fact it's just a glorification of the White Savior Complex. I'd rather not read about nice white people setting up their churches and rescuing black boys from their evil black families, because that is bullshit. Throughout history, white people have fucked shit up with wild abandon, whether it be storming across the frontier and murdering Natives or elbowing their way into Africa and raping/pillaging tribes into obscurity or putting sexual/religious/racial minorities behind electric fences in the name of fascism. And to this day white people are still telling themselves that they have a crusade to carry out: that they're somehow pro-freedom if they have a black friend or if they like reading about Egypt. This worldwide culture of white supremacy was going on when the first white person set foot in Africa, and it was going on a couple of weeks ago at the VMAs. And what is this book saying about it all? Nothing. It's saying that white = clean, and black = dirty. If that is not racism, then I do not know what is.I don't know why students are expected to like all the books they're forced to read at school. Why they're expected to love something just because it's a "classic". Classics are books just like any other, and more often than not, they're mired in racism, sexism, heterosexism, and every other -ism you can think of. I hate most of them.And get this: for my final exam, my teacher expected me to write an essay on how amazing this book was. I did not. I wrote an essay on how embarrassingly below-par the authorship was, and how damaging it was to black people, to black women, and to black culture in general.I got a hell of a mark for it.

David

This had been on the top of my Amazon recommendations list for well over a year, so I finally succumbed (succambe?) and ordered it. I can imagine why it was recommended - I wish I liked it more than I did. Of the two related stories, I liked the second - the account of the changes brought by the outside world - better. Though I can see how others might find the first story equally powerful, it reminded me too much of Hemingway, both because of its exploration of "what it means to be a man" and the writing style. I couldn't work up enough sympathy for the main character to see him as a tragic figure. If he appeared in a more familiar context, I'd have no hesitation in pronouncing him a forgettable jerk; to view him differently because of the "foreign setting" doesn't really seem warranted. Taking it out on your wives and kids just because you have unresolved father issues is being a jerk in any culture. So his behavior in the first story didn't earn him any sympathy. Developments in the second story, where he could be viewed as a victim of external circumstances beyond his control, made it easier to feel for him.A point in the book's favor is that I did read it in one sitting.Your enjoyment of this book is likely to be directly proportional to your enjoyment of Hemingway.

Madeline

How To Criticize Things Fall Apart Without Sounding Like A Racist Imperialist:1. Focus on the plot and how nothing very interesting really happens. Stress that it was only your opinion that nothing interesting happens, so that everyone realizes that you just can't identify with any of the events described, and this is your fault only. 2. Explain (gently and with examples) that bestowing daddy issues on a flawed protagonist is not a sufficient excuse for all of the character's flaws, and is a device that has been overused ad naseum. 3. Also explain how the main character is a generic bully, with no unique characteristics that make him interesting to the reader. Crack joke about Achebe stealing Walt Disney's How To Create A Villain checklist and pray no one beats you to death for it. 4. Do not criticize the rampant misongyny present in the book. It is part of the culture, and is therefore beyond criticism by you because you are not in a position to understand or comdemn what you have not experienced directly. 5. Do not say that the frequent use of untranslated words and confusing names that were often very similar made the story and characters hard to keep track of at times. Achebe is being forced to write in English, a foreign tongue, because he is a post-colonial writer and the fact that the book is written in English stresses his role as a repressed minority, something that you are incapable of understanding, you racist imperialist! Read for: Perspectives on Literature

Pa

I bought “Things Fall Apart” and was excited and eager to read it knowing that (1) it has sold millions and millions of copies since its debut in 1958, (2) has since stood as a symbol of a crown achievement of African literature, and (3) has sort of turned Chinua Achebe into a Hemingway of Africa. But as life has taught us many times before: great expectations come with greater disappointments. While “Things Fall Apart” never quite fell apart it never really took off either. But I should be more forgiving and gentler here considering that it is a debut novel written in the late ‘50s by a young African writer in a second language about his own native country Nigeria at the dawn of a new era—the birth of a free and independent Africa. Seen through this prism, "Things Fall Apart" was a remarkable attempt by Achebe to paint the story of Nigeria on the big canvas of Africa’s pre-and post-colonialism. Briefly, “Things Fall Apart” tells a story of the tragic rise and fall of a strong, masculine tribal man Okonkwo, a champion wrestler, a successful farmer, the son of an effeminate, failing father, and the husband of three wives and a half dozen children, who vowed to take charge of his own destiny but instead lost it to a deep fear of failure and frailty. Major themes thread through the book – the tension between the old and the new, tradition and modernism, tribalism and colonialism. The fate of Africa is like the fate of Okonkwo himself – tragic but defiant. "Things Fall Apart" is an easy read—the writing is lucid and simple — and the book provides great insights into Africa’s history though as a work of fiction it didn’t leave much of an imprint on me. Maybe Achebe’s another "so-called" masterpiece “Arrow of God” could do what “Things Fall Apart” didn’t—lift me up and take me away.

Clif Hostetler

This is a novel about the clash of Nigerian traditional culture with British colonial power at the turn of the 20th century. The author is Nigerian and wrote the book about what would have been the experiences of his grandfather's generation. This book does much to do away with the perception of African traditional societies as being primitive, simple and backward. The first part of the book is filled with numerous short stories that show how Nigerian society functioned prior to the arrival of the Europeans. It elaborated on their religion, government, system of money, art and judicial system. However, it is an honest description of traditional society that includes its less desirable features such as infanticide, mistreatment of women, ritual killings, and patriarchal traditions that honored and praised male violence. When this traditional culture begins to be changed by colonial intrusions, some native Nigerians were open to change and others indifferent. The main character was a rigid fundamentalist and refused to change.The second and third parts of the books tells the story of British colonial powers gradually replacing traditional Nigerian governance with their own system of laws. Some of the British were flexible and sensitive in dealing with traditional culture. Others were rigid in their dealings with Nigerians and showed no respect for traditional ways. I appreciate that fact that the book portrayed the two sides as neither all good or all bad. It provides another example of the fact that change happens, and the story of life is dealing with it.When it comes to colonial power versus traditional African culture, we all know who came out on top at least in the short term. Of course Nigeria eventually won its independence in 1960. But it could be argued that some of instability and internal violence that country has experienced since then may have been caused by the loss of traditional social structures.

Fatin

I think Achebe definitely did a brilliant job in convincing the reader to sympathize with all the characters. I did have to go over a few passages twice or thrice to understand their culture, and God, the sexism is difficult to stomach, but I think, I'm not sure, I think I loved it. It is always so interesting to read up on cultures on practices which are viewed as disgusting and wrong in today's time, especially when they're written so well. I enjoy hearing the other side's story immensely. I was left with this dull ache because of the death of traditional African culture due to "white people" inflicting their religion and culture on them.

Flesheating D-Ray

This is my new favorite book because within five minutes, a person's reaction will tell me how defensive they are about being considered racist, whether or not they've been accused that minute.This is an excellent way to identify racists, for fun and profit.Seriously, covering it in class has been like, "Fielding Racists 101" and "How to Sound Over-Defensive When Talking About How African People Are Actually More Violent, No Totally" class.One guy actually said there was literally no parallel or point of reference for Okonkwe's behavior in America and that it was literally impossible to understand how he could be so brutal.Which is funny, just really hilarious. Since he basically claimed that America does not have:1.) Domestic Abuse2.) FarmsThis is wonderful news. I will inform all farmers and domestic abuse victims forthwith; their troubles are over.Which is interesting, because the story being set in Africa IMMEDIATELY DIVORCED a person from understanding ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED AT ALL, despite the similarities to what we may experience in America. Hm.Anycase, this book made me think and gave me a much needed different camera angle on literature (especially the Colonially linked kind) and that's all I really asked of it. I guess you could consider me a happy customer, in that respect.P.S. EVERYONE GETS 10 JACKASS POINTS FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT AFRICAN NAMES IN A BOOK INTENDED FOR AFRICAN PEOPLE TO READ HAHAHAHAHAHA

Hayden Casey

SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes SparkNotes! I really enjoyed this one.

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