on February 24, 2000
About a month ago I was assigned to read a book from a suggested reading list in my Lit. & Comp. course. Last Thursday I decided I should probably start looking for a book to read. Since "Things Fall Apart" was readily available, free, and short I decided to go for it. Starting out I thought it was pretty drab and boring. Talking about customs and rituals in some African tribe. "Who cares?" I thought. Slowly as I got deeper into the novel I was beginning to realize something. Achebe put all the tribal information in the beginning to prove something. He proved that we as WASPs aren't always right. The fact that we went into a foriegn country and automatically decided that what we knew was right and everything else is wrong emits the strongest sense of ego possible. Achebe tries to prove that Europeans destroyed much of this planets culture with Onkonkwo and his struggle with life. Okonkwo tried and tried to become the best by achieving all four of his lands titles only to be squashed in the end by a bunch of hypocritical Christians. Americans view themselves as knowing what's right for everyone. None of them see the other point of view. A person knows what's right for them; so let them make their own decision
on November 17, 2014
Read this for an English class and found it quite enjoyable and, at times, profound. The tragically flawed protagonist and diverse array of cultures makes it somewhat hard to follow and keep attached, but you need to think of the narrative as a door to a world that, necessarily and purposely, rejects the modern realities you may have grown accustom to. There are parts of the story, especially near the end, where I feel like the novel tries to pull a Huxley but takes a Joycian approach in that it tells you very little; however, I found myself working most of the novel's meaning through extrapolation rather than through explicit or implicit details. Don't expect any literary indulgence in the form of speeches or recurring symbols. The overarching themes and the variety of perspectives ameliorate the quality of this novel. Overall, the narrative comes and goes with little intellectual injection, but the connections the reader makes can lead to a more profound experience, albeit one that Achebe doesn't work particularly hard to provide.
on January 15, 2002
THINGS FALL APART begins fable-like, telling us a story of Okonko, who is almost a Homeric hero. Honor and masculinity are integral to his character, and what he perceives in his father as laziness and femininity no doubt plays a role in his concern for these qualities. Two major events cause a major change in his life. As a result of an accident, he is cast out of his village for seven years. The other event is the coming of Europeans and their spreading of Christianity.
There is little idealized in the town of Umuofia, where Okonko lives. The lives of the portrayed characters is not shown to be either easy or humane. And the missionaries in this book don't bring pure evil. The converts are converted of their own accord, and due to a trading store, "much money flowed into Umuofia." This book is fortunately free of moralizing. Things fall apart, but new ways are formed, and these ways may be better or worse than the old ways. Still, Achebe's novel is not blind to the destruction that the missionaries bring, and the brutality of their increasing power, which is moving towards domination.
Achebe shows skillfully the dilemmas and problems of two cultures clashing that misunderstand each other. I just watched Nicolas Roeg's film "Walkabout" a few days ago, and though they are quite different stories, they have many parallels, such as the curious ending scene. More importantly, the theme of the mystery of culture, and destruction and self-destruction remain the same. In an age where globalization seems to be the key economic topic, it is crucial that we understand the variety of life on earth, the histories we are involved in, and the need for communication and understanding.
on November 8, 2001
In Chinua Achebes novel Things Fall Apart, Achebe uses literary devices to tell the story a couple of devices she uses are tone, tense, themes, symbols and Foreshadowing, she uses them throughout the entire novel to explain here feelings. The climax of the novel was when the leader of the clan Okonkwo is murdered. The climax of the story was kind of sad because Okonkwo died. The narrator of the novel is anonymous but shows sympathy for some people. The narration is in the third person by an omniscient figure who is focused on Okonkwo but switch through many different characters. Chinua tone of the book was Ironic, she was sort of mocking the tone, almost fable like. She writes in the past tense. The falling action of the novel was when the villagers let the white governments messengers to escape and Okonkwo felt that is was a weakness the village. One of the themes of the novel was the fight between culture and change. Achebes uses some different symbols one was Fire, which represented Okonkwo's nature, a fierce, wild person just like a fire. She used foreshadowing in the book, it was when the locust arrive which symbolizes the arrival of the white men. Things Fall Apart is very good and I urge you to read this book.
on August 31, 2001
Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" is simply a good book. It is not spectacular, nor are its ideas earth-shattering; yet after reading it I felt quite satisfied. The story follows the life of Okwonkwo, an Ibo tribeman. A reknowned warrior in his youth, Okwonkwo strives to work his way out from the shadow of his listless father. Far from a model hero, Okwonkwo is tragically flawed with a quick temper and a rigid mindset. Okwonko serves as a metaphor for his tribe as a whole. Both are in some ways beautiful, some awful, and some tragic - and with the coming of the white man, both are doomed.
Achebe does an excellent job of portraying the clash of two cultures. He skillfully avoids politicizing the events and demonizing one side or the other. Both the tribesmen and the white missionaries primarily consist of honest people. The conflict between the groups arises not out of evil, but out of ignorance. The near perfect ending to the story drives this point home with a subtle blow that will leave you thinking for quite some time.
While not a perfect book - it was too short to develop the characters to my satisfaction, the language was simple and lacked grace, and the names were often confusing - Achebe's work is well worth the investment of a few hours.
on August 21, 2001
In reading Hiroshima, the author, John Hersey enlightens the reader about the tragedy of the first atomic bomb ever dropped on a city at the exact point at which it hits the town of Hiroshima, 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945. Hersey wrote this book to show the strength of the human spirit. The story is told though the eyes of six survivors that were fortunate enough to escape death. These six civilians discuss their own story of how they managed to survive and keep on going against all odds. Against illnesses, deformities, the human suffering around them, poverty, unlivable conditions, and also getting through a time of discrimination. Even though these six people were injured themselves they still helped the more unfortunate ones that were not as luck as they were. These human beings were willing to live, even after experiencing one of the worst moments in their lives. The survivors had to carry on their own personal lives through their will to survive overcoming their obstructions. They had to go through the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional pain brought to them by the bomb. The six characters lived different lives both before and after the bomb, but were all compelled through the tragedy they suffered and their drive to overcome and live. The morning of August 6, 1945 was one that many people will not forget. Everything was going to plan and people were out doing their normal thing when at 8:15 a bright flash of light covered the whole area. Few could have anticipated its potential devastation. The author let the reader meet the survivors and the reader was put into their shoes. Hersey uses these six characters to show the horror of what really happened when the atomic bomb struck. Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a young single woman who broke her leg and was left unattended to had the drive to go on after being maimed and abandoned by her fiancé to become a nun. Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura had a courageous struggle to keep herself and her children alive, forced to work laborious jobs earning barely enough for food. She became very weak due to the exposure to radiation making her rest from work more often than she is use to. Dr. Terufumi Sasaki was the only doctor to survive in his hospital completely unharmed. He became aware of his good fortune and provided medical help for thousands of injured victims. He had worked for days with no rest trying to save the lives of those who had not as been as fortunate as he had. Years later he died regretting that he had been unable to do more. Dr. Masakazu Fujii had been injured too greatly to help attend to patients, but later went on to fight for peace and raise funds for a variety of projects in the name of the Hiroshima victims. Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge was a German priest who was compelled to work beyond his condition in an attempt to rescue his fellow priests and friends. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a pastor, helped hundreds by transporting wounded civilians and bringing supplies to and from Asano Park. John Hersey wrote the book through first hand accounts not only after the bomb was dropped, but almost forty years later to update on the survivors. Hersey really cares about the story of these six people. He is fascinated with what they have to say and to hear their life story and visits them forty years later to see how they are doing now. The way Hersey uses these people to tell the story is a creative way of writing and is very intimate. This book was a very detailed and smooth flowing book. Since his resources were so direct the book seemed to put the reader in the shoes of these six survivors. The reader stays with the story as each individual tells his or her own personal interaction. Hersey takes the reader though every encounter that each individual comes across and how each individual manages to keep on going and not give up no matter how tough the situations might be. Yet he also manages to keep the reader wanting to know more and go deeper into this tragic, however heroic story. This book is a good investment in reading; it is educational, but also very emotional. Hersey takes the reader though the six survivors accounts with pain and agony, but leaves the reader with a greater understanding of human capabilities and the wisdom that the drive to survive cannot be bounded by language or nationality. This book is without doubt worth reading because it shows the human beings' motivation to live, even after experiencing one's worst time in life. I highly recommend this story of six of the bravest and courageous people that had to experience one of the worst times of their life and now have to live with the affects brought on to them by it.
on October 2, 2000
I just finished reading this book straight through during the course of last night, and I wholly object to the reviewer who said that it couldn't hold an avid reader's attention....
This book presents a portrait of Ibo culture that is sympathetic yet realistic, and a portrait of a man that is portrayed in much the same fashion. The back cover of the book compares this story to one of the classical Greek plays: perhaps this is because of the spartanness of the narrative shared by both; perhaps it is because in both that genre and this work, the main character has a tragic flaw that in the end brings their downfall. Aside from that, they aren't that similar..... excluding the fact that in both a world is portrayed that is very much NOT like our own....
I have a feeling that this work is often pigeonholed with other works about Africa written by predominantly black authors (either in Africa or amongst its diaspora). This is a better work than that: one can take more from it than something surmised as 'alternate' narrative. It is a well-written and constructed work that should earn its place in a human canon not just one of a particular substratum....
Who should read this book? Everyone who likes to read. It is a pretty, well-written story ASIDE from being about Africa in tribal times. Another book that is kind of contact literature-- when white folks come into common with other folks-- is Shisaku Endo's 'Silence': detailing missionary work and prosletizing of Christian missionaries in Japan. Hope someone reads it....
on September 26, 2000
Like some of the other writers here have commented, the first part of the novel is a little boring. The deadpan style of writing was a little too simple if you can say that about someone's writing. That plus the difficulty of sounding the African words made me a little irritated when I read it. I wondered what simpleton had written this text. But then I read a critcism of "Heart of Darkness" written by Chinua Achebe. (In it he says that Europeans have often used Africa as a "foil" to make their own accomplishments seem grander.) Anyway, this essay was obviously the work of a learned scholar. Why would such a sophisticated writer parody the Ernest Hemingway style with far-too-simple declarative sentences?
I will admit that this book is a good work of literature but I question whether it is a Great Book. How many of it's 100,000 U.S. sales annually arise because students are compelled by their teachers to read it. Is the real reason this book is widely read that it attacks European culture, colonialism, and church missionaries? After all, attacks on the majority by the minority, such as "Why the Caged Bird Sings", have elevated writers of mediocre talent, write: "Alice Walker", to international acclaim. (Toni Morrison is not a mediocre talent so say the critics with which I usually agree. I have yet to read her work but look forward to doing so.)
As the review posted at Amazon.com says, Achebe does not get carried away and gloss over the brutal nature of African village culure. He describes the warfare between tribes and implicitly attacks the pride that the villagers have in being great warriors. He describes how twins are thrown away at birth. (It was not clear to me if they killed them and then buried them in the Evil Forest.)
But Chinua Achebe himself is a product of the colonial, meaning British, culture that he attacks. Brought up on English literature and short-listed for the Booker prize he owes much to the Victorian Era. Had there been no colonials there would be no "Things Fall Apart".
Not all books that kids in school have read for many years are great books. For example, Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a good book. But why do so many schools assign it as if it was a great book? And I think that "Things Fall Apart" would probably be good to assign to highschoolers. But let's not call a work of literature great simply because it attacks western civilization.
on March 8, 2000
I enjoyed Chinua Achebe's, Things Fall Apart, and would recommend it to anyone. Chinua Achebe is a great author and shows it in his books. I think when he was writing this book he wanted people to learn about other cultures in the world. The way that these people live and react to their problems is much different than what I see in my life. He writes about a man named Okonkwo, who faces fear and anger when missionaries come to his homeland, in Nigeria. In one part of the book, Okonkwo is forced out of his home and sent to live in his motherland because he accidentally shoots and kills another man. Later he comes home and tries to win back his old neighbors and friends who are now followers of the Christian faith. Also, the men in the clan are to raise strong boys into men. This may be a problem for Okonkwo as his son withdraws into the Christians. One of the most exciting parts of the book is when the tribe gathers together to have wrestling matches. The men, women, and children go against each other like wild animals and it is very exciting. Next, Okonkwo faces one of his hardest tasks when he must kill a young man he has been caring for. Okonkwo could never forgive himself but it was something that the tribe leaders ordered. Okonkwo finally loses control of himself and makes the ultimate sacrifice fearing that the missionaries from Britain would gain too much control. I liked this book because in my life I don't get to see or hear about how people such as Okonkwo had to face their troubles. This book teaches a valuable lesson about Western imperialism and shows how the Western countries influenced the African tribes.
on March 6, 2000
Things Fall Apart is an excellent book that introduces the reader to both the African Ibo culture and the struggles of one individual. This novel opens with the despcription of simple daily life in the village of Umuofia educating the reader of the primitive daily life in Nigeria at the turn of the century. The novel describes the village life as it was before the white man at all times making the reader aware that their simple village life is about to change. The main chracter Okonkwo is a strong warrior whom possesses all of the villages most repsected attributes. However, he is man that struggles with the fear of failiure and uncontrollable anger. Throughout this novel we see how these qualities lead to self-destruction in the face of a changing world. The end of the novel most clearly shows how severe Okonkwo's destructive nature has become in an unexpected way. When I first began to read Things Fall Apart I did not understand the importance of the novel. As I easily read along I was not understanding many of the deeper messages that the book was communicating. I was simply enjoying the folklore and the simple stories that were told within the novel. However, this changed when the novel took a turn from describing less of the village life and more of Okonkwo's struggles. It was here that I began to see all the issues that an African villager might have been facing and understanding Achebe's message. Okonkwo was a man that was faced with the changes brought about with the white man. Okonkwo feared the impact that these men might have on future genrations and questioned whether village life would ever be the same again. I saw this message as valid for not only historical analysis but also present day analysis. We live in a world, and I live in a country that sees the need for further colonization and development in foreign countries to offer the natives a better way of life. However, this novel clearly presented that although a foreign country might have good intentions they are not always what it best for the country. The reason is that the outsiders are never truely understanding of the culture that existed prior to their arrival and therefore can never offer what is best for the culture. In this novel we see that although the Ibo life was imperfect, with the arrival of the white man, a war zone of ideologies was created in which neither culture lived peacefully. I thoroughly enjoyed my read of Things Fall Apart and would recommend it to any reader interested in the African culture and history. I recommend that, even if some of the descriptions seem rather dry, stick with it and you will find Achebe's messsage thought provoking and powerful.