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Things Fall Apart Novel

The book “Things Fall Apart” is the first book written by an African author that had worldwide acclaim. The book was written by Chinua Achebe, who was from Nigeria, in 1958. The novel was distributed by the publishing company, William Heinemann Ltd, in 1958. This was the first book sold by William Heinemann Ltd. in their African Book Series. The author, Mr. Achebe, got the title “Things Fall Apart” from his favorite poem, “The Second Coming”, that was written by his favorite poet, W.B. Yeats. The main theme of the book was the village life of a Nigerian tribe before colonialism, during colonialism, and after colonialism.

The main character in the story is the tribal leader, Okonkwo, of the fictional tribe, Ibo. Chief Okonkwo is not only the leader of the Ibo tribe, but he also the wrestling champion for the village. The story discusses the struggles that Okonkwo faces when the European missionaries come over and try to take control of his village for colonialism. This tale of Chief Okonkwo and his tribe is written in two books “Things Fall Apart” and “No Longer at Ease” which was published in 1960.

Chief Okonkwo is selected the leader of the Ibo tribe after the death of his father. Okonkwo tries to build his own life and legacy apart from his father because his father died a disgraced leader of the tribe. Okonkwo’s father was a womanizer, gambler, and neglected his children. Okonkwo once he became Chief of Ibo had to pay off the debt his father owed to many of the villagers. Okonkwo felt that he had to prove his masculinity on a regular basis and that is why he was the local wrestling champion among the surrounding villages.

The story also places light on how many European empires, like Great Britain, found the need to invade other countries and place them under their rule by colonialism. The novel goes into detail of how the Christian missionaries took it upon themselves to try and force their customs and beliefs on the natives. Also, how the Christian missionaries tried to convince the local African villagers that they were savages and needed to be tamed by the civilized Europeans. The ironic thing is that the European conquerors were the savages because if the local Nigerian villagers failed to cooperate brute force was used by the Europeans to place the villagers into submission.

Tragically, at the end of the novel, the main character, Okonkwo kills himself because he is unable to get his people to organize and fight back against their oppressor, the Christian missionaries. The story shows how difficult it can be for one person to be the leader of a group of individuals who refuse to unite together against a common enemy. Also, how the group will blame their leader for their problems, if he does not rescue them from their oppressor.


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