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Things Fall Apart: A Novel
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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.
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on March 3, 2000
I feel that Chinua Achebe's purpose fr writing the book was ti show the world what really happened during the time period when the Enflish settled in Africa. He captured how life really was before the intrusion into the tribes with thenew strange faith of Cristianity. Lastly it shows how the tribes in Afric were not savages like the white settlers made them out to be. They were civilized people who ha tough morals to live by. Three scintillating events to me that hapened in the book would first be when the gun explodedin Okonkwo's hands and killed the boy. A second event was when Okonkwo and his fellow tribes men were face to face with the messengers and he chopped one of their heads off. The last event would be when Obierika showed the comisioner Okonkwo's body hanging behimd his hut. I feel that the quality of the book was excellant, because it was captivating reading which stirred you and made you want to read more. Another reason why I like the book was it showed the real things that went on in tribes and the social ways through the eyes of a great man like Okonkwo.
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on March 3, 2000
THINGS FALL APART
SUMMARY:
Chinua Achebe's book, Things Fall Apart reveals the unique life of a Nigerian man, which is dominated by fear and anger. The main character Okonkwo is a traditional man who is opposed to change. He adheres to the old ways of going about daily activities, fighting wars, to practicing faith. Throughout the book, Okonkwo experiences many tragic losses such as losing the child, Ikemefuna, and being banished from his home, Umuofia.This book not only shows the positive aspects but it reveals the hardships of life and eventually ends with Okonkwo committing suicide. I believe that Chinua Achebe wrote this book to share his knowlege about Nigerian life, that not many people know about or are familiar with. I think Achebe felt it was important for everybody to learn about African cultureand foreign customs before they can begin to appreciate them.
EXCITING EVENTS:
1.) I thought that the time when Okonkwo was removed from Umuofia was an exciting event. I looked forward to find out how he would react to this problem and the change in his surroundings.
2.) I also thought that the part when Ikemefuna was sent to live with Okokwo was exciting and interesting. I enjoyed reading about how Ikemefuna and Okonkwo's family bonded, matured, and developed relationships and how the family was affected when Ikemefuna had to be killed.
3.) The wrestling matches and festivals around it also caught my attention. It was interesting to learn what cultures do for fun and what they take pride in. In Okonkwo's culture, wrestling is one way to put yourself on the map and make a decent name for yourself.
EVALUATION:
Things Fall Apart was a decent book, but especially if you are interested in African culture It should be recommended for this purpose. The book used a few too many foreign words that became hard to understand. There could have been a little more action, tension, or war scenes involved, but life isn't always dramatic and exciting. I did like it because I find it helpful and useful to read different kinds of literature coming from different view points and perspectives. A little change once and a while can really open up the mind. Overall Things Fall Apart wasn't my favorite book but I appreciated what it had to say. I give it 7 out of 10 stars.
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on March 2, 2000
Derek March 2, 2000 Things Fall Apart
Part I This book begins talking about Unoka. Unoka was known to be lazy and improvident. Unoka's was the father of Okonkwo. As Okonkow grew older he realized how much he did not want to take after his father. When Unoka died, Okonkwo didn't inherit anything because Okonkwo was poor. He didn't have farmland as others did. As Okonkwo grew older, in time he gained high rankings in his tribal clan. He was gifted with three wives and many children. Okonkwo had a very bad agricultural life. The first year he planted his yams the blazing sun scorched everything green on his farmland. The second year Okonkwo planted seeds the rains pored so heavily that the city almost floated away. Okonkwo kept telling himself that he is not a failure. With his persistence he was able to grow yams and other crops for his family. After the harvest Okonkwo received a message from the Oracle saying the child named Ikemefuna had to be sacrificed. The child was very close to Okonkwo. This was a horrendous tragedy and caused Okonkwo many sleepless nights. During a major feast Okonkwo suffers yet another terrible mishap, for a ceremony Okonkwo fired a gun and it exploded ending up killing a sixteen year old boy. For this reason Okonkwo and his family were exiled to his Motherland for seven years. After the seven-year period, Okonkwo came home to a conflict of his people and white men that were trying to take over Umuofia. When Okonkwo finds this out he decides to fight back... You must read this book if you want to find out how Okonkwo and his family survive.
Part II There were many exciting events in "Things Fall Apart". One exciting event was when Okonkwo was sent to his Motherland for seven years. I think this event was very surprising to see how foreign cultures adapt to different situations. One circumstance that I didn't care for in this novel was when Okonkwo let Ikemefuna be killed as a sacrifice for the gods. I think if he stopped this from happening it would have giving me a better understanding of protecting your own people.
Part III My evaluation of this book is three and ½ stars. I especially liked this book because Chinua Achebe brings the reader through one mans life and death. Even though this book had a few loose ends I thought it was a great book for all ages.
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on February 28, 2000
This is the story of Okonkwo, a young man living in the land of Umuofia in Africa. He is a strong warrior whose life is dominated by fear and anger. As the story develops, the author gives a clear picture of the everyday life of Okonkwo's tribe, the Ibo. The author deals explicitly with the family life and the religion of the Ibo people. Many of the aspects of this primitive life seem savage and uncivilized to many readers, such as the ritual killing of children and polygamy. About half-way through the book, the local tribes come into contact with British missionaries who settle around them in the hopes of spreading the Christian Faith. This is the point where things begin to fall apart for Okonkwo and his fellow tribesmen as the European missionaries for the most part wish not only to "Christianize" the tribes of Umuofia, but to completely wipe out their African heritage and customs, and to turn the land into a sort of British colony. Sadly, this method of completely wiping out one's culture and replacing it with the culture of one's homeland has been used by many of the mission efforts of Western Christendom throughout the centuries. The author is very descriptive about the tragic effects this form of mission work can have on a culture. Christian missionaries may find this book offensive. However, I believe that it should be read by anyone considering Christian missionary work. The cultural insensitivity exhibited by the missionaries in this book is a pitfall into which all missionaries are in danger of falling in their attempts at spreading the Gospel. For a more Orthodox approach to mission work, I recommend MONKS, MISSIONARIES, & MARTYRS: MAKING DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS by Fr. Luke Alexander Veronis (Light & Life Publishing).
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on January 31, 1999
I too was forced into reading this book for my lit. class. The book was fine but i had some difficulty with relating to the charactors in the book. First there was Okonkwo, who is the main charactor but he also beats all of his wives and children to keep a facade going. Later in the book you are made to almost pity him but can't quite do that after what you have read in the first two parts. I could go on and on but I'm only aloted 1,000 words in this reveiw so i'll stop here with my not being able to relate to charactors. At this moment i am searching the net to find some answers to explain parts of the book and that's how I came across this. I love to read and i love reading historical fiction with John Jakes as my favorite author, but this book just did not sit well with me. I'm trying not to be negative about this book because diffrent people have diffrent taste and mine just did not go with this one book.
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on March 28, 2001
Most of the book is devoted to setting the stage for the final fifth (if you like lengthy descriptions of primitive African tribeswomen preparing meals you're going to love this novel). On the other hand, when someone blandly points out that European influences in Africa destroyed a way of life that perhaps didn't need to be destroyed, you will know from reading this book precisely what that way of life was like. It's a sort of African "Gone With the Wind." Achebe makes no judgments; he simply tells what happened. And he leaves it to you, the reader, to supply your own sense of devastation. I just wish we could have been treated to a little more plot in the first four-fifths of the book. A lot of kids are assigned this book in high school, and I can see why they go stir-crazy trying to sit still and read it. That they are eventually rewarded by a brilliant ending must be, for them, scant recompense for their toils.
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on March 22, 2000
I read this book for a college report, and, like most of my class, didn't much care for it. The tale itself, though coming close to historical accuracy, is bland and dry. The characterization is not developed or presented in an interesting way, and, in essence, it's a book by a man for male readers. There is little depth. There is also much repetition. For example, chapter three, page 12: "Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men usually had." Page 13: "With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had." It is difficult to relate in any way emotionally to the characters, especially Okonkwo, and such makes it difficult to really care what happens to them. From a historical perspective, this book is worth reading to learn how the British colonization of Africa effected the Africans, but I wouldn't recommend it for enjoyment.
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on April 5, 1998
The book titled "Things Fall Apart" is an excellent book that combines the African stories with the qualities of the entire humanity. I read this book twice and it opened my mind, the first 4 chapters were boring but I didn't loose the interest. This book is definitely outstanding, my English teacher Ms. Nora Syran she recommended this book for it's quality messages to the reader and Im agree with her. I started reading this book over my spring break, while my friends were parting I was reading the coolest book I ever read. Okonkwo was a tragic character because he spent his entire life trying to be successful even with the bad reputation his father (Unoka) left to him, Okonkwo was outrageous he knew everything I admire him. I want to said that the book I just read was cool but it didn't satisfied my literature necessities. Anyway I love to read books like this one...END
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on April 21, 2001
After reading Things Fall Apart for my english class, I can't really say that I've learned that much about imperialism.(which is what I think this book is about)
The book is extremely simple and easy to understand. It is not like a Skakespearean play or anything. I'd think the most important point in the book was to figure out how "things fell apart." I'm pretty sure my anchor assessment is on that, and that's what I'm studying most on, and trying to get examples and quotes. For a book in english class, it isn't so bad. But I can't say that the book taught me that much about the British coming to Africa to take over land and stuff. This book's ok if you just use it for a bit of leisure reading or bathroom reading.
Don't expect this to be a real educational experience, though. You'll hurt your head trying to figure out all the proverbs and symbolism. NHS rules!
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