Summary: With over eight million copies in print world wide, Achebe’s work is a definitive novel in African literature. Filled with powerful language and finely drawn characters, Things Fall Apart also shimmers with the sounds and sights of village life. Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger. Things Fall Apart traces the growing friction between village leaders and Europeans determined to save the heathen souls of Africa. But its hero, a noble man who is driven by destructive forces, speaks a universal tongue… Read more.
I teach this book every year, and every year I’m impressed. This was a different recording I found, and I have to say it blows the others out of the water. Chinua Achebe was a genius in his day, and his words continue to ring true to millions across the globe. Don’t miss this book!
Very interesting story. Themes of love, conquest, tradition, and acceptance that spread across cultures and across times. Not my usual choice, but glad I read it. Provides a lot of perspective into the colonialist time when Europeans were spreading across Africa.
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Summary of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart, by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, was written in 1958, and is widely acclaimed as the quintessential 20th century African novel written in English. It is studied extensively throughout Africa, as well as the English speaking West, including the UK and US school systems.
The novel follows the story of Okonkwo, who is a well-off and honored warrior from a reputable Nigerian tribe. Okonkwo suffers shame from his late father, who he viewed as lazy and a spendthrift, and has worked hard to pay off his debts, and hsi son, Nwoye, he also sees as a failure and worries he will wind up like his father.
The audio of Things Fall Apart opens with a paragraph describing the strength and honor of Okonkwo:
Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honour to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, from Umuofia to Mbaino. He was called the Cat because his back would never touch the earth. It was this man that Okonkwo threw in a fight which the old men agreed was one of the fiercest since the founder of their town engaged a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights.
This view of his son is quickly foiled, as Okonkwo is soon granted another boy, Ikemefuna, from a neighboring village, as part of a business traction. Okonkwo soon begins to favor the new bey over his own son.
During this time, the village sees several incidents, including the arrival of the locust plague to the town. This is seen as a positive occurrence, however, as the tribe will collect, cook, and eat the locusts.
One day, a village elder reveals that the boy must be killed, due to a prophecy. Ultimately, Okonkwo is the one who winds up killing the boy, after which he is tormented for weeks.
Then, Okonkwo accidentally shoots a fellow tribesman during the funeral celebration for one of the village elders, and is forced to leave the village for 7 years.
He takes his family to his mother’s hometown, where he begins a new life. Soon after, missionaries arrive in the town. Though they begin to convert the tribe peacefully, their interactions later turn violent.
Some hardline missionaries attack members of the clan who refuse to convert, after which the clan retaliates and burns the church, only to be tricked and arrested by the white men. Okonkwo kills a white man at a tribal meeting, believing that his clan is ready for war and an uprising will ensure.
When the clan votes for peace, Okonkwo is on the verge of being imprisoned, when he hangs himself.-
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