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BOOK REVIEW (THINGS FALL APART)





AUTHOR:     CHINUA ACHEBE
PUBLICATION DATE:   JUNE 17, 1958
PAGES:                                166
PUBLISHER:        WILLIAM HEINEMANN LTD 1958
PRICE:                                    N400
REVIEWER:                          IGE OLUWAPELUMI JOSHUA

The novel, “Things fall apart” was Chinua Achebe’s and most influential novel. Things fall apart was written partially in indignation over the distorted and dehumanized representations of Africans in European fiction. It was written in response to British colonization and its human consequences. The novel described how the Igbo society began to fall apart after the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries at the end of the ninetieth century.
The novel, “Things fall apart is undoubtedly the most authentic narrative ever written about life in Nigeria at the turn of the twentieth century.


PLOT

Things Fall Apart is set in Umuofia, the hometown of Okonkwo, a strong, proud, hot-tempered and industrious man. As a young man, Okonkwo becomes of the greatest wrestlers in the clan. Okonkwo values strength and aggression, traits he believes are masculine, and his worst fear is to be thought of feminine weak, like his father, Unoka, a coward and spendthrift who died in disrepute leaving many village debts unsettled.

In settlement with a neighboring tribe, Umuofia wins a virgin and fifteen-year-old boy. Okonkwo takes charge of the boy, Ikemefuna who lived with Okonkwo’s family for the next three years. Okonkwo finds an ideal son in him and Ikemefuna soon starts to call Okonkwo father. Nwoye likewise forms a strong emotional bond with Ikemefuna. During the week of peace in Umuofia, Okonkwo accusses his youngest wife, Ojiugo of negligence. He severely beats her, breaking the peace of the sacred week. He makes some sacrifices to show his repentance, but he has shocked his community irreparably.

After three years, the oldest man of the tribe, Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a respectful village elder informs Okonkwo in private that the Oracle has said that Ikemefuna must be killed. He tells Okonkwo that because Ikemefuna call him “father, okonkwo should not take part in the boy’s death.
Ikemefuna is marched in a procession, told that he is going back to his original village, and then deep in the woods, one of the villagers hits him with a matchete. The blow is not fatal, and he runs in fear to Okonkwo, calling him father and asking him to protect him. Afraid of being though weak, Okonkwo strikes the boy down, despites the oracle’s admonishment. When Okonkwo returns home, Nwoye deduces that his friend is dead. 

Okonkwo grieve deeply for three days after the death of Ikemefuna. Other tell him that it was a very bad omen for him to strike the killing blow. Slowly he forgets about it and participates in the ceremonial and economic affairs of the village, although the event marks his son Nwoye very deeply.

Soon, Ezeudu passes away, and his funeral celebration draws the entire clan. During the burial, Okonkwo’s gun explodes, killing Ezeudu’s 16-year-old son. Because killing a clansman is a crime against the earth goddess, Okonkwo must take his family into exile for seven years in order to atone. He gathers his most valuable belongings and takes his family to his mother’s natal village, Mbata.

The men from Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s quarter burn Okonkwo’s buildings and kill his animals to clean the village of his sin. During their time in exile, Okonkwo and his family work hard to start a new farm in Okonkwo’s motherland, Mbata. His mother’s kinsmen treat them kindly, but Okonkwo is extremely discouraged by circumstances. He plans for the day he can return to his rightful place in Umuofia.

During the second year of Okonkwo’s exile, Obierika brings several bags of cowries that he has made by selling Okonkwo’s yams. Obierika plans to continue to do so until Okonkwo’s returns to the village. Obierika also brings the bad news that Abame, another village, has been destroyed by the white-man.
While he works in Mbata, the white-men begin to appear among neighbouring clans, causing stories to spread about their power and destruction. When they finally arrived in Mbata though, the clan is fascinated but finds their religion ridiculous. Nwoye however is captivated by the hymn he hears on the first day.

When Okonkwo returns to Umuofia, he sees that the white missionaries, who visited Mbata, his motherland, have really taken root in Umuofia. They have established a school there and a trading post. Thus far only weak men have converted, but the missionaries prove their endurance, more wealthy and people up standing people join them. His eldest son Nwoye converts, and leaves the household for good.

The first missionary, Mr. Brown a white-man, who is popular for his patience and understanding approach. Though an interpreter named Mr. Kiaga, the missionaries, leader Mr. Brown, speaks to the villagers. He tells them that their gods are false and that worshipping more them one God is idolatrous. Mr. Brown  does not allow his followers to antagonize the clan. Although his aim is to convert the residents of Umuofia to Christianity. His health gives out, and he is succeeded by the Reverend James Smith, a rigid man, who is uncompromising, encouraging acts among the converted clan members that provoke the rest of the clan.

When Enoch, a fanatic convert, rips the mask off one of the clan’s masked Egwugwu during a ceremony. The clan retaliates by burning down Enoch’s compound and the church. The district commissioner is upset by the burning of the church and requests that the leaders of Umuofia meet with him. 

Once the gathered, however, the leaders are handcuffed and thrown in jail, where they suffer insult and physical abuse before they are released once the village pays the fine. When they are released, they meet to plan their next move. Okonkwo is finally happy because they seem to be considering war. However, the British administrators send some of his African offices to spy on the meeting and break it up. Okonkwo loses his temper and kill some of the messengers.

No one else follows his lead. In despair, he returns to his compound and hangs himself – a final discretion of the earth goddess. Suicide is such an unclean act that none of the villagers ca cut his body down, they must ask the British administrator, who has come to arrest Okonkwo to bury him.

The commissioner, who is writing a book about Africa, believes that the story of Okonkwo’s rebellion and death will make for an interesting paragraph or two. He has already chosen the book’s title: THE PACIFICATION OF THE PRIMITIVE TRIBES OF THE LOWER NIGER
CHARACTERIZATION
Okonkwo –
Nwoye
Nwoye -  Okonkwo’s oldest son, whom Okonkwo believes is weak and lazy. Okonkwo continually beats Nwoye, hoping to correct the faults that he perceives in him. Influenced by Ikemefuna, Nwoye begins to exhibit more masculine behavior, which pleases Okonkwo. However, he maintains doubts about some of the laws and rules of his tribe and eventually converts to Christianity, an act that Okonkwo criticizes as “effeminate.” Okonkwo believes that Nwoye is afflicted with the same weaknesses that his father, Unoka, possessed in abundance. Nwoye.
Nwoye, Okonkwo’s oldest son, struggles in the shadow of his powerful, successful, and demanding father. His interests are different from Okonkwo’s and resemble more closely those of Unoka, his grandfather. 

He undergoes many beatings, at a loss for how to please his father, until the arrival of Ikemefuna, who becomes like an older brother and teaches him a gentler form of successful masculinity. As a result, Okonkwo backs off, and Nwoye even starts to win his grudging approval. Nwoye remains conflicted, however: though he makes a show of scorning feminine things in order to please his father, he misses his mother’s stories.

With the unconscionable murder of Ikemefuna, however, Nwoye retreats into himself and finds himself forever changed. His reluctance to accept Okonkwo’s masculine values turns into pure embitterment toward him and his ways. When missionaries come to Mbanta, Nwoye’s hope and faith are reawakened, and he eventually joins forces with them. Although Okonkwo curses his lot for having borne so “effeminate” a son and disowns Nwoye, Nwoye appears to have found peace at last in leaving the oppressive atmosphere of his father’s tyran

Ezinma : The only child of Okonkwo’s second wife, Ekwefi. As the only one of Ekwefi’s ten children to survive past infancy, Ezinma is the center of her mother’s world. Their relationship is atypical—Ezinma calls Ekwefi by her name and is treated by her as an equal. Ezinma is also Okonkwo’s favorite child, for she understands him better than any of his other children and reminds him of Ekwefi when Ekwefi was the village beauty. Okonkwo rarely demonstrates his affection, however, because he fears that doing so would make him look weak. Furthermore, he wishes that Ezinma were a boy because she would have been the perfect son.

Ezinma, Okonkwo’s favorite daughter and the only child of Ekwefi, is bold in the way that she approaches—and even sometimes contradicts—her father. Okonkwo remarks to himself multiple times that he wishes she had been born a boy, since he considers her to have such a masculine spirit. Ezinma alone seems to win Okonkwo’s full attention, affection, and, ironically, respect. She and he are kindred spirits, which boosts her confidence and precociousness. She grows into a beautiful young woman who sensibly agrees to put off marriage until her family returns from exile so as to help her father leverage his sociopolitical power most effectively. In doing so, she shows an approach similar to that of Okonkwo: she puts strategy ahead of emotion.

Ikemefuna : A boy given to Okonkwo by a neighboring village. Ikemefuna lives in the hut of Okonkwo’s first wife and quickly becomes popular with Okonkwo’s children. He develops an especially close relationship with Nwoye, Okonkwo’s oldest son, who looks up to him. Okonkwo too becomes very fond of Ikemefuna, who calls him “father” and is a perfect clansman, but Okonkwo does not demonstrate his affection because he fears that doing so would make him look weak.
Mr. Brown:  The first white missionary to travel to Umuofia. Mr. Brown institutes a policy of compromise, understanding, and non-aggression between his flock and the clan. He even becomes friends with prominent clansmen and builds a school and a hospital in Umuofia. Unlike Reverend Smith, he attempts to appeal respectfully to the tribe’s value system rather than harshly impose his religion on it Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown represents Achebe’s attempt to craft a well-rounded portrait of the colonial presence by tempering bad personalities with good ones. Mr. Brown’s successor, Reverend Smith, is zealous, vengeful, small-minded, and manipulative; he thus stands in contrast to Mr. Brown, who, on the other hand, is benevolent if not always beneficent. Mr. Brown succeeds in winning a large number of converts because he listens to the villagers’ stories, beliefs, and opinions. He also accepts the converts unconditionally. His conversation with Akunna represents this sympathetic stance. The derisive comments that Reverend Smith makes about Mr. Brown after the latter’s departure illustrate the colonial intolerance for any kind of sympathy for, and genuine interest in, the native culture. The surname Brown hints at his ability to navigate successfully the clear-cut racial division between the colonizers and the colonized.

Reverend James Smith - The missionary who replaces Mr. Brown. Unlike Mr. Brown, Reverend Smith is uncompromising and strict. He demands that his converts reject all of their indigenous beliefs, and he shows no respect for indigenous customs or culture. He is the stereotypical white colonialist, and his behavior epitomizes the problems of colonialism. He intentionally provokes his congregation, inciting it to anger and even indirectly, through Enoch, encouraging some fairly serious transgressions.

Uchendu - The younger brother of Okonkwo’s mother. Uchendu receives Okonkwo and his family warmly when they travel to Mbanta, and he advises Okonkwo to be grateful for the comfort that his motherland offers him lest he anger the dead—especially his mother, who is buried there. Uchendu himself has suffered—all but one of his six wives are dead and he has buried twenty-two children. He is a peaceful, compromising man and functions as a foil (a character whose emotions or actions highlight, by means of contrast, the emotions or actions of another character) to Okonkwo, who acts impetuously and without thinking.

The District Commissioner - An authority figure in the white colonial government in Nigeria. The prototypical racist colonialist, the District Commissioner thinks that he understands everything about native African customs and cultures and he has no respect for them. He plans to work his experiences into an ethnographic study on local African tribes, the idea of which embodies his dehumanizing and reductive attitude toward race relations.

Unoka - Okonkwo’s father, of whom Okonkwo has been ashamed since childhood. By the standards of the clan, Unoka was a coward and a spendthrift. He never took a title in his life, he borrowed money from his clansmen, and he rarely repaid his debts. He never became a warrior because he feared the sight of blood. Moreover, he died of an abominable illness. On the positive side, Unoka appears to have been a talented musician and gentle, if idle. He may well have been a dreamer, ill-suited to the chauvinistic culture into which he was born. The novel opens ten years after his death.

Obierika -  Okonkwo’s close friend, whose daughter’s wedding provides cause for festivity early in the novel. Obierika looks out for his friend, selling Okonkwo’s yams to ensure that Okonkwo won’t suffer financial ruin while in exile and comforting Okonkwo when he is depressed. Like Nwoye, Obierika questions some of the tribe’s traditional strictures.

Ekwefi -  Okonkwo’s second wife, once the village beauty. Ekwefi ran away from her first husband to live with Okonkwo. Ezinma is her only surviving child, her other nine having died in infancy, and Ekwefi constantly fears that she will lose Ezinma as well. Ekwefi is good friends with Chielo, the priestess of the goddess Agbala.

Enoch -  A fanatical convert to the Christian church in Umuofia. Enoch’s disrespectful act of ripping the mask off an egwugwu during an annual ceremony to honor the earth deity leads to the climactic clash between the indigenous and colonial justice systems. While Mr. Brown, early on, keeps Enoch in check in the interest of community harmony, Reverend Smith approves of his zealotry.

Ogbuefi Ezeudu -  The oldest man in the village and one of the most important clan elders and leaders. Ogbuefi Ezeudu was a great warrior in his youth and now delivers messages from the Oracle.

Chielo - A priestess in Umuofia who is dedicated to the Oracle of the goddess Agbala. Chielo is a widow with two children. She is good friends with Ekwefi and is fond of Ezinma, whom she calls “my daughter.” At one point, she carries Ezinma on her back for miles in order to help purify her and appease the gods.

Akunna - A clan leader of Umuofia. Akunna and Mr. Brown discuss their religious beliefs peacefully, and Akunna’s influence on the missionary advances Mr. Brown’s strategy for converting the largest number of clansmen by working with, rather than against, their belief system. In so doing, however, Akunna formulates an articulate and rational defense of his religious system and draws some striking parallels between his style of worship and that of the Christian missionaries.

Nwakibie -  A wealthy clansmen who takes a chance on Okonkwo by lending him 800 seed yams—twice the number for which Okonkwo asks. Nwakibie thereby helps Okonkwo build up the beginnings of his personal wealth, status, and independence.

Mr. Kiaga -  The native-turned-Christian missionary who arrives in Mbanta and converts Nwoye and many others.

Okagbue Uyanwa -  A famous medicine man whom Okonkwo summons for help in dealing with Ezinma’s health problems.

Maduka -  Obierika’s son. Maduka wins a wrestling contest in his mid-teens. Okonkwo wishes he had promising, manly sons like Maduka.

Obiageli -  The daughter of Okonkwo’s first wife. Although Obiageli is close to Ezinma in age, Ezinma has a great deal of influence over her.

Ojiugo -  Okonkwo’s third and youngest wife, and the mother of Nkechi. Okonkwo beats Ojiugo during the Week of Peace.

SETTING:
The story of Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things fall apart takes place in the Nigerian village of Umuoia in the late 1880s, before missionaries and other outsiders have arrived. It was a period in colonial history when the British were expanding their influence in Africa, economically, culturally, and politically. Umuofia is an Igbo village with very well defined traditions. The neighbouring clans fear Umuofia because its warriors and medicine-men are powerful. Each person has a hut, which is refered to as “Obi”, and is located in the center of a compound. Each gender harvests different types of crops (the men harvest yam, and the women harvest coco-yam, beans and cassava).

When Okonkwo is expelled from Umuofia, he gathers his most valuable belongings an takes his family to is mother’s natal village, Mbata, he was received warmly and is given two or three plots of land to farm and a plot land to build a new compound of hurts. The next seven years of Okonkwo’s life are spent in the village of Mbata. Okonkwo later returns to Umuofia where the rest of the novel takes place.

LANGUAGE:
The author of Things fall Apart, Chinua Achebe presents the complexities and depths of an African culture to readers of other cultures as well as to readers of his own culture. By using English in which he has been proficient since childhood – he reaches many more readers and has a much greater literary impact than he would by writing a language such as Igbo. Achebe incorporated elements of the Igbo language into his novel. By incorporating Igbo words, rhythms, language and concepts into an English text both his culture, Achebe goes a long way to bridge a cultural divide. 

The Igbo vocabulary is emerged into the text almost seamlessly so the reader understands the meaning of most Igbo word by their context and by doing this he helps the non-Igbo reader identify with and relate to this complex Igbo culture. 

Achebe adds another twist in his creature use of language by incorporating a few examples of Pidgin English (a language that has developed from mixture of two languages) Achebe uses only a few pidgin words or phrases – tie-tie (to tie); Kotma (a crude form of court messenger), and Yes, sah. 

Achebe’s use of Igbo language, speech patterns proverbs, and richly drawn characters create an authentic African story that effectively bridges the cultural and historical gap below the reader and the Igbo.

NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE:
Things fall apart is written in the third-person and omniscient point of view. It can share the thought of many characters, tough it often focuses on just the main characters, including Okonkwo, Ikemefuna, Nwoye and Ekwefi even the District commissioner in the last paragraph. The shifting viewpoint allows the reader to consider all sides of the conflicts and reach his/her own conclusions about their outcomes. 

Even though the third-person narrator maintains an objective point of view, the interjection of vivid imagery/figurative language and Ibo vocabulary suggests an underlying purpose. This style of narration helps to provide more insight into the Igbo people’s culture values and social customs. Thus, Achebe presents his novel in the form of a traditional story, highlighting the richness of Ibo culture, and the dangers of immutability.

THEME:
A novel’s theme is the main idea that the writer expresses. It can also be defined as the underlying meaning of the story. The theme of a novel is more than its subject matter, because an author’s technique can play a strong role in developing a theme as the actions of the characters do.

The foremost theme of the novel is that European colonization and the conversion of Christianity of tribal people has ruined a complex and traditional ancient way of life in Africa.
The imposition of western cultural beliefs and the administrative apparatus were thought to be just as well as civilizing although in reality they had the opposite effect of being cruel and inhuman practices that suppress large native populations to the British. 

Another noteworthy theme that is explored in this book is the fallibility of a ma life Okonkwo he is determined to be a lord of his clan. He rises from humble beginnings to a position of leadership, and he is a wealthy man. He is driven and determined, but his greatness comes from the same traits that are the source of his weaknesses. He is often too harsh with his family, and he is haunted by a fear of failure. Other themes in the novel include: Tribal belief, clash of culture of culture, Destiny, social disintegration.


GENRE OF THE NOVEL (TRAGEDY)
Judging from the title of the novel,
“Thing fall Apart” is a tragedy. It narrates the story of an African clan being invaded by outsiders and falling to pieces. 

The novel also tells the story of Okonkwo. He is also considered a tragic hero. A tragic hero holds a position of power and prestige, choose his course of action, possess a tragic flaw, and gains awareness of circumstances that leads to his fall. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw is fear of weakness and failure.

TONE:
In the novel, Achebe was as objective as possible without exaggeration and elaboration. He allows the reader to impose emotion on the text and decide for themselves whether characters are admirable, justified or vindicated in their behaviours. Nevertheless, towards the end, Achebe begins to express sympathy towards the Umuofia by describing the cruelty and inhumanness inflicted on the people by the white colonial government.

THE REVIEW
Things Fall Apart is about the tragic fall of the protagonist, Okonkwo and the Igbo culture. Okonkwo is a respected and influential leader within the Igbo community of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. He first earns personal fame and distinction, and brings honor to his village, when he defeats Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling contest. Okonkwo determines to gain titles for himself and become a powerful and wealthy man in spite of his father's weaknesses.


Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was a lazy and wasteful man. He often borrowed money and then squandered it on palm-wine and merrymaking with friends. Consequently, his wife and children often went hungry. Within the community, Unoka was considered a failure and a laughingstock. He was referred to as agbala, one who resembles the weakness of a woman and has no property. Unoka died a shameful death and left numerous debts.


Okonkwo despises and resents his father's gentle and idle ways. He resolves to overcome the shame that he feels as a result of his father's weaknesses by being what he considers to be "manly"; therefore, he dominates his wives and children by being insensitive and controlling.


Because Okonkwo is a leader of his community, he is asked to care for a young boy named Ikemefuna, who is given to the village as a peace offering by neighboring Mbaino to avoid war with Umuofia. Ikemefuna befriends Okonkwo's son, Nwoye, and Okonkwo becomes inwardly fond of the boy.


Over the years, Okonkwo becomes an extremely volatile man; he is apt to explode at the slightest provocation. He violates the Week of Peace when he beats his youngest wife, Ojiugo, because she went to braid her hair at a friend's house and forgot to prepare the afternoon meal and feed her children. Later, he severely beats and shoots a gun at his second wife, Ekwefi, because she took leaves from his banana plant to wrap food for the Feast of the New Yam.


After the coming of the locusts, Ogbuefi Ezeuder, the oldest man in the village, relays to Okonkwo a message from the Oracle. The Oracle says that Ikemefuna must be killed as part of the retribution for the Umuofian woman killed three years earlier in Mbaino. He tells Okonkwo not to partake in the murder, but Okonkwo doesn't listen. He feels that not participating would be a sign of weakness. Consequently, Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna with his machete. Nwoye realizes that his father has murdered Ikemefuna and begins to distance himself from his father and the clansmen.


 so he visits his best friend, Obierika, who disapproves of his role in Ikemefuna's killing. Obierika says that Okonkwo's act will upset the Earth and the earth goddess will seek revenge. After discussing Ikemefuna's death with Obierika, Okonkwo is finally able to sleep restfully, but he is awakened by his wife Ekwefi. Their daughter Ezinma, whom Okonkwo is fond of, is dying. Okonkwo gathers grasses, barks, and leaves to prepare medicine for Ezinma.

A public trial is held on the village commons. Nine clan leaders, including Okonkwo, represent the spirits of their ancestors. The nine clan leaders, or egwugwu, also represent the nine villages of Umuofia. Okonkwo does not sit among the other eight leaders, or elders, while they listen to a dispute between an estranged husband and wife. The wife, Mgbafo, had been severely beaten by her husband. Her brother took her back to their family's village, but her husband wanted her back home. The egwugwu tell the husband to take wine to his in-laws and beg his wife to come home. One elder wonders why such a trivial dispute would come before the egwugwu.

In her role as priestess, Chielo tells Ekwefi (Okonkwo's second wife) that Agbala (the Oracle of the Hills and Caves) needs to see Ezinma. Although Okonkwo and Ekwefi protest, Chielo takes a terrified Ezinma on her back and forbids anyone to follow. Chielo carries Ezinma to all nine villages and then enters the Oracle's cave. Ekwefi follows secretly, in spite of Chielo's admonitions, and waits at the entrance of the Oracle. Okonkwo surprises Ekwefi by arriving at the cave, and he also waits with her. The next morning, Chielo takes Ezinma to Ekwefi's hut and puts her to bed.


When Ogbuefi Ezeudu dies, Okonkwo worries because the last time that Ezeudu visited him was when he warned Okonkwo against participating in the killing of Ikemefuna. Ezeudu was an important leader in the village and achieved three titles of the clan's four, a rare accomplishment. During the large funeral, Okonkwo's gun goes off, and Ezeudu's sixteen-year-old son is killed accidentally.


Because the accidental killing of a clansman is a crime against the earth goddess, Okonkwo and his family must be exiled from Umuofia for seven years. The family moves to Okonkwo's mother's native village, Mbanta. After they depart Umuofia, a group of village men destroy Okonkwo's compound and kill his animals to cleanse the village of Okonkwo's sin. Obierika stores Okonkwo's yams in his barn and wonders about the old traditions of the Igbo culture.

Okonkwo is welcomed to Mbanta by his maternal uncle, Uchendu, a village elder. He gives Okonkwo a plot of land on which to farm and build a compound for his family. But Okonkwo is depressed, and he blames his chi (or personal spirit) for his failure to achieve lasting greatness.


During Okonkwo's second year in exile, he receives a visit from his best friend, Obierika, who recounts sad news about the village of Abame: After a white man rode into the village on a bicycle, the elders of Abame consulted their Oracle, which told them that the white man would destroy their clan and other clans. Consequently, the villagers killed the white man. But weeks later, a large group of men slaughtered the villagers in retribution. The village of Abame is now deserted.


Okonkwo and Uchendu agree that the villagers were foolish to kill a man whom they knew nothing about. Later, Obierika gives Okonkwo money that he received from selling Okonkwo's yams and seed-yams, and he promises to do so until Okonkwo returns to Umuofia.


Six missionaries, including one white man, arrive in Mbanta. The white man speaks to the people about Christianity. Okonkwo believes that the man speaks nonsense, but his son, Nwoye, is captivated and becomes a convert of Christianity.


The Christian missionaries build a church on land given to them by the village leaders. However, the land is a part of the Evil Forest, and according to tradition, the villagers believe that the missionaries will die because they built their church on cursed land. But when nothing happens to the missionaries, the people of Mbanta conclude that the missionaries possess extraordinary power and magic. The first recruits of the missionaries are efulefu, the weak and worthless men of the village. Other villagers, including a woman, soon convert to Christianity. The missionaries then go to Umuofia and start a school. Nwoye leaves his father's hut and moves to Umuofia so he can attend the school.

Okonkwo's exile is over, so his family arranges to return to Umuofia. Before leaving Mbanta, they prepare a huge feast for Okonkwo's mother's kinsmen in appreciation of their gratitude during Okonkwo's seven years of exile.

When Okonkwo returns to Umuofia, he discovers that the village has changed during his absence. Many men have renounced their titles and have converted to Christianity. The white men have built a prison; they have established a government court of law, where people are tried for breaking the white man's laws; and they also employ natives of Umuofia. Okonkwo wonders why the Umuofians have not incited violence to rid the village of the white man's church and oppressive government.


Some members of the Igbo clan like the changes in Umuofia. Mr. Brown, the white missionary, respects the Igbo traditions. He makes an effort to learn about the Igbo culture and becomes friendly with some of the clan leaders. He also encourages Igbo people of all ages to get an education. Mr. Brown tells Okonkwo that Nwoye, who has taken the name Isaac, is attending a teaching college. Nevertheless, Okonkwo is unhappy about the changes in Umuofia.


After Mr. Brown becomes ill and is forced to return to his homeland, Reverend James Smith becomes the new head of the Christian church. But Reverend Smith is nothing like Mr. Brown; he is intolerant of clan customs and is very strict.


Violence arises after Enoch, an overzealous convert to Christianity, unmasks an egwugwu. In retaliation, the egwugwu burn Enoch's compound and then destroy the Christian church because the missionaries have caused the Igbo people many problems.


When the District Commissioner returns to Umuofia, he learns about the destruction of the church and asks six leaders of the village, including Okonkwo, to meet with him. The men are jailed until they pay a fine of two hundred and fifty bags of cowries. The people of Umuofia collect the money and pay the fine, and the men are set free.

The next day at a meeting for clansmen, five court messengers who intend to stop the gathering approach the group. Suddenly, Okonkwo jumps forward and beheads the man in charge of the messengers with his machete. When none of the other clansmen attempt to stop the messengers who escape, Okonkwo realizes that they will never go to war and that Umuofia will surrender. Everything has fallen apart for Okonkwo; he commits suicide by hanging himself.

CRITIQUE:
It is a realistic novel, it concern the socio-political aspects of the novel including the fiction between the members of the Igbo society as they confront the intrusive and over powering presence of western government and beliefs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CHINUA ACHEBE

Chinua Achebe born in 1930, Nigerian novelist and poet widely recognized as the father of the African Novel.
Born in Ogidi, Nigeria, when Nigeria was still a British colony, Achebe studied at a missionary school and earned a degree in English literature and history from the University college of Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan). He subsequently taught at various universities in Nigeria and the United States, including a long tenure as professor of languages and literature at Bard College in New York State.

BOOK REVIEW (THINGS FALL APART)    BOOK REVIEW (THINGS FALL APART) Reviewed by IFEDAYO AKINWALERE on 8:22:00 am Rating: 5

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