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Book reviews
Okonkwo generally feels that masculinity can best be expressed through aggression and anger. Because of this, he often beats his wives, sometimes even threatening to kill them: "And so when he (Okonkwo) called Ikemefuna to fetch his gun, the wife who had just been beaten murmured something about guns that never shot. Unfortunately for her, Okonkwo heard it and ran madly into his room for the loaded gun, ran out again and aimed at her as she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn. He pressed the trigger and there was a loud report accompanied by the wail of his wives and children" (Achebe, 39). Okonkwo tends not to think about things, and he acts impulsively and inconsiderately. His relationship with his lazy father has shaped much of his violent and ambitious demeanor. He wants to rise above his father's legacy of spendthrift, indolent behavior, which he views as weak and therefore feminine. This association is inherent in the clan's language - the narrator mentions that the word for a man without an expensive, prestige-indicating titles is agbala, which also means "woman." In general, Okonkwo's idea of manliness is not the clan's. Yet others who are not effeminate do not behave in this way. Obierika, unlike Okonkwo, tends to think before acting upon his will. Obierika refuses to accompany the men on the trip to kill Ikemefuna, but Okonkwo not only volunteers to join the party that will slaughter Ikemefuna, but he is also the one to stab him violently with his machete simply because he is afraid of appearing weak: "As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, "My father, they have killed...
pages: 3 (words: 569)
comments: 0
added: 12/18/2011
Okonkwo is a well known man in the Umuofia village, famous for defeating great wrestlers nearly twenty years ago. He was a violent angry man who lashes out at nearly everything that he finds the least bit unacceptable. His greatest fear is the possibility of turning out like his father who was a lazy cowardly man who left many great unpaid debts. Late at night, Okonkwo heard the town crier saying that all the men should meet in the market the next morning. A Umuofia woman had been killed in the Mbiano market and the payment for this crime was the exchange of one virgin and one boy from the Mbiano tribe. The virgin was presented to the husband of the murdered woman, and the boy, named Ikemefuno, lived with Okonkwo until the elders decided what to do with him. Ikemefuno was scared when he first moved to Umuofia, but he soon made it his home. He made a close friend to Okonkwo's oldest son, Nwoye. Okonkwo, although he didn't show it, he was fond of Ikemefuno and was glad he was being a good influence to Nwoye. Ikemefuno lived with Okonkwo for three years when Okonkwo got a visitor from the elders who warned him not to have a hand in the boy's death because the boy called him father. Okonkwo told Ikemefuno that he was going home, but Ikemefuno knew he wasn't going home. Okonkwo and the elders took the boy on a walk. Okonkwo walked far behind Ikemefuno. When one of the other men struck the boy with his machete, he ran to Okonkwo and cried, "My father, they have killed me!" Okonkwo raised his machete and finished him off because he didn't want to appear weak. Okonkwo wasn't able to sleep for three days. When he was finally able to...
pages: 3 (words: 743)
comments: 0
added: 12/03/2011
Okwonko had nothing to start out his own life with which young men usually did. There was no inheritance from his father, Unoka. So, Okwonko had looked upon a wealthy man named Nwakibie who lived about his village. After bringing wine for the two to drink, Okwonko asked for Nwakibie's help in sparing yams for his preparation of a farm. Nwakibie agreed and was very generous giving Okwonko twice of what was expected (800 yams). Okwonko had a lot of difficulties due to the unpredictable weather in harvest. It was the most horrible year not a thing grew, but one consolation. Since he had survived the year he shall survive anything. And Okwonko's patience then was tried beyond words. If I were to be brought up in a world that wasn't so materialistic, with a father who hadn't supported me financially, where I wasn't set, I'd probably be forced to do anything to be on top and literally survive. When I say anything I mean work for what I want and need rather than just expecting what was expected for the norm. During My time being here where I actually have had awareness of what reality really is, I've learned from my parents what it takes to become successful and achieve what you want. To live in a world with no worries is impossible but to live happy is what you make of it. In order to do that you have to lead a path where you can acknowledge the fact that the choices you make always and will dictate the life you lead. My proverb-"For a man who starts out with nothing and then is granted everything, but then looses everything, still walks away with something."...
pages: 2 (words: 287)
comments: 0
added: 12/17/2011
Write a commentary on pages 96-99 of ‘Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe, commenting on:1.contribution to plot2.behavior of Okonkwo3.structure and language episode4.introduction of theme of colonial conflict Chapter 15 of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a very significant part in the story. It is important in showing how much Okonkwo has changed since being exiled from his village and going to live in his motherland. We heard in the previous chapter of his first couple of days, but this chapter is set 2 years later when he has become accustomed to the very different atmosphere of the village of Mbanta. During this chapter is his first contact with Umuofia, his old village, which comes in the form of a visit from his good friend Obierika. It is through this visit that we first hear of the white missionaries. This passage is clearly separated into three different sections. The first is before Obierika tells the story of Abame, the second occurs during the story telling, and the third is the reactions shown by the different characters to the story. These sections are very important, as they show us how Okonkwo has changed under the supervision of Uchendu, but also how he is still the same person inside with the same natural instincts and that he cannot change them no matter what the circumstances and how hard he tries. Before the story of Abame Okonkwo greets Obierika, who has been maintaining Okonkwo's crop of yams, and had brought the many bags of cowries they had earned. Okonkwo greets him warmly; taking a share of the load for the final part of the journey to his obi, then takes him to see Uchendu. He describes Obierika to Uchendu as his 'great friend', and then Uchendu refers to Okonkwo as 'my son'. This shows...
pages: 6 (words: 1482)
comments: 0
added: 04/30/2011
The main detail that stands out about the book Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, is that these characters have ridiculously difficult lives. None of these people have been dealt a life that is basically worry-free, like many people today. The characters in this book are born to work and serve their families, if they're lucky and don't die of some crazy disease. Even the privileged have to work hard to have any prosperity. One example of how Achebe is trying to show through his story how these people have really awful lives is shown with the main character, Okonkwo. In the story the main thing you first learn about Okonkwo is that his father was killed and left him nothing except a burden. His father, Unoka, had died of a swelling of the stomach and left him nothing at all which could help him get a good start in adulthood, like a barn or pre-planted crop fields. So Okonkwo had to build up his entire life all on his own. He was one of the lucky ones who actually made something out of himself. Achebe paints a very visual reality for both Okonkwo and the unsuccessful minor characters. Okonkwo has built up his own little farm and has a few wives, but he is still a miserable person who takes his anger out on others, especially his wives. During the Week of Peace, he beats one wife, Ojiugo, because she had not prepared his evening meal in time. He is then punished because, Ezeani, priest of the earth goddess Ani, discovers he beat his wife during the week of peace, and his punishment is stated by Ezeani, who says: "Take away your kola nut. I shall not eat in the house of a man who has no respect for our gods...
pages: 2 (words: 493)
comments: 0
added: 12/02/2011
Okonkwo is portrayed as a tragic hero, in the novel Things Fall Apart. To uncover the source of Okonkwo's tragic flaw, a glimpse into his past is essential. At first, we see Okonkwo as an arrogant, hardworking, warrior. This is his cultures vision of a great citizen. His father, Unoka was thought of as a failure. He is lazy and does not provide for his family. His culture views him as an unacceptable and an unsuccessful citizen, and Unoka was looked down upon. Okonkwo set a goal to be everything his father wasn't. Although this could be a good been a good goal, it is the one which Okonkwo's tragic flaw arises from. Every person has his faults but with Okonkwo, they ultimately lead to his downfall. His tragic flaw comes in two parts. The first of which is his obsession with war, fighting, and power. Okonkwo always needed be involved in an activity, he never wanted to look lazy. He possessed a one-track mind that was focused on nothing but being the best. Another flaw that Okonkwo shows is his pride in his masculinity. This forces him to show no other emotion, except anger and fear of looking weak. This flaw caused Okonkwo to have problems with his family and tribe. This including his violence towards his family, killing Ikemefuna, his seven year banishment, and decapitating the District Commissioner, with leads to his death. To begin with, Okonkwo is hard and stern with his family, mostly his son, Nwoye, who does not take after him. It is Okonkwo's inner fear that Nwoye too would be a failure like his Unoka. He is strict with his wives and never shows his inner emotions. As a man that has provided everything for himself, he is impatient with others who are unsuccessful. During a...
pages: 4 (words: 966)
comments: 0
added: 12/04/2011
In the book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, the author is trying to give an explanation of what it is like to live in an African society. The story is about a man named Okonkwo who is a member of the Ibo tribe. Achebe is telling the emotional story of Okonkwo from his childhood till his death. The title Things Fall Apart is symbolic of many events in the book. The main character, Okonkwo, did not like the way his father lived, he thought a man should be strong and do stereotypical male tasks. Unoka, Okonkwo's father, did not fit mold according to his son's ideals leaving Okonkwo ashamed of him. Okonkwo promised himself that he would make a better life for himself and his family. He became a revered member of the Ibo tribe and gained recognition from his peers. Unfortunately Okonkwo was accused of killing a boy and was banished from the Ibo tribe for seven years, during which he was forced to live with his mother's tribe. He lost all of the recognition he had worked so hard to attain in the Ibo tribe. When Okonkwo returned he found that many things had changed, these changes were mostly instituted by Christian missionaries newly situated in Africa. In retaliation of these truths which he could not accept ,Okonkwo killed a clansman, the worst crime a tribal member could commit. After his lashing out, he realized that there was no hope for redeeming himself nor was there a chance he could become an elder (his goal). Giving in to his weakness, he hung himself, for he most likely would have been killed anyway. Basically Okonkwo's life fell apart on him, as the title Things Fall Apart exemplifies. As would be expected after all of the turmoil in his life, Okonkwo was not...
pages: 4 (words: 1057)
comments: 0
added: 10/26/2011
Cultural Themes in the Characters of "Things Fall Apart" The book Things Fall Apart is about Okonkwo, a strong man whose life is dominated by anger and fear. It is about the rise and fall of this great man due to unforeseen events that occur. In my paper I will discuss the cultural aspects of the book, the themes of the story, and my personal opinions of the book itself. The story takes place in a village, located in Nigeria, named Umuofia. Umoufia is the most feared village in Nigeria and is know for its strength and for war. The people of Umuofia were of the Ibo religion. They believed in one great god, called Chukwu, lesser gods, and ancestors. They would worship these gods and ancestors for various reasons such as for better harvests, fertility, to get out of debt, and for health. Society in Umuofia was built on status. To obtain high status in this community, one must possess the qualities of strength, wealth, and war. One must also have taken at least one of the four titles. Men who had not taken a title were considered agbala, meaning a man with no title, or a woman. Men were the head of the households and often had more than one wife. The man and his wives would stay on the same compound, but in different huts with their children. The women would clean, cook, and raise the children, while the men worked on the harvest. If women helped with the harvest, they would grow small crops such as rice and beans, while the men grew yams. And this is how it was; this was village life before the European invasion. One of the important themes of this story was that of overcoming adversity within oneself and stepping out of someone else's...
pages: 4 (words: 989)
comments: 0
added: 12/08/2011
That year the harvest was sad, like a funeral, and many farmers wept as they dug up the miserable and rotting yams. One man tied his cloth to a tree branch and hanged himself. Okonkwo remembered that tragic year with a cold shiver throughout the rest of his life. It always surprised him when he thought of it later that he did not sink under the load of despair. He knew that he was a fierce fighter, but that year had been enough to break the heart of a lion. "Since I survived that year," he always said, "I shall survive anything." He put it down to his inflexible will. His father, Unoka, who was then an ailing man, had said to him during that terrible harvest month: "Do not despair. I know that you will not despair. You have a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone." The above passages were taken from the end of chapter three, part one. After finishing reading this book and then going back through it, I found these passages very ironic in regards to how the story eventually ended. Okonkwo believed that because he was such a fierce fighter, he could conquer anything life threw at him. However, it was his fierce, proud, fighting attitude that was his demise in the face of uncontrollable circumstances in the end. Okonkwo believed that war and brute fighting would fix everything. He was a proud and stubborn man constantly struggling to improve his standing in the tribal community. Okonkwo also had intense pride for his tribe and way of life. He believed it was the right way of life and not...
pages: 5 (words: 1360)
comments: 0
added: 11/18/2011
The role of a tragic hero within a story line is essential in a dramatic film or written work. The hero has the standards of becoming a great character that can take charge of the story through courageous action and bold dialogue. However, since the character is deemed a "tragic" hero, his flaws will ultimately be his downfall, usually leading to the characters own demise. Nowhere is this ideal of a tragic hero more relevant that in Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart. The story is set in late nineteenth-century in a small village in Nigeria. The tragic hero in this case is a young man named Okonkwo. He is a dynamic growing character but is doomed from the beginning of the story with two major flaws that in the end will destroy his character. Okonkwo cannot physically display any of his emotions because he thinks it is a sure sign of weakness. His second flaw is that if and when he does show any emotion, it is an uncontrollable rage. Both of these flaws will get Okonkwo into trouble that he cannot handle. Okonkwo has been taught from a very young age that showing his emotions is a feminine characteristic, a sign of weakness within his culture. This is brought about because when Okonkwo was a child his father was not very involved with the community or with the elder counsel. The community is the most important aspect of everyday life for Okonkwo's people. The village does not have a centralized government, but it is does have democratic ruling through the elder males (Ohadike xxii). Since Okonkwo's father was lazy and drank too much, he did not receive any respect from the majority of the community. Okonkwo did not want this for himself so he always displayed a tough exterior so...
pages: 4 (words: 919)
comments: 0
added: 11/01/2011
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart was published in 1958 and is the seminal African novel in English. Although there are others, none are as influential, not only in African literature, but in literature around the world. It's most amazing feature is that it portrays Africa, but mostly the Ibo society, before white men arrived. Achebe is trying not only to tell the outside world about Ibo cultural traditions, but to remind his own people of their past and it's value. In teaching the reader about Ibo society, he also explains the role of women in pre-colonial Africa. Nigeria's traditional culture, Muslim as well as non-Muslim, had been masculine-based even before white men arrived. This has caused many problems in African literary debates. Many other female writers believe that the image of the helpless, dependent, unproductive African woman was one that was delivered by Europeans whose women lived that way. Colonial rule just aggravated the situation by introducing a lopsided system in which African men received a good education while, like Europeans, African women received only the kinds of skills that could prepare them to be useful helpmates of the educated successful men. In Things Fall Apart, the reader follows the trials of Okonkwo, a hero whose tragic flaw includes the fact that "his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness." For Okonkwo, his father Unoka was engulfed in failure and weakness. Okonkwo was teased as a child by other children when they called Unoka agbala. Agbala could either mean a man who had taken no title or "woman." Okonkwo hated anything weak or frail, and when he would describe his tribe and the members of his family show that in Ibo society anything strong had to do with man and anything weak with woman. Because Nwoye, his...
pages: 3 (words: 655)
comments: 0
added: 12/26/2011
Two entirely different cultures are brought together in unique fashion in Courtney's The Power of One, Achebe's Things Fall Apart, and Costner's Dances with Wolves, to reveal a common theme. When two cultures collide, the infringing and more imposing civilization generally retains its customs while either altering or destroying aspects of the weaker culture's way of life. Peekay demonstrates this theme through his childhood and adult experiences in The Power of One. Okonkwo and lesser characters are able to endow this idea in Things Fall Apart, and likewise, Lt. John Dunbar is able to do so in Dances with Wolves. When two cultures come together, religion, politics, and views of intolerance are all affected. Religion has been the bearer of wars and strife amongst civilizations because of the enormous role it plays in defining a society. Therefore, when two cultures come together, the more dominant culture's religion will typically prevail. This scenario is evident in The Power of One, on occasion. The most obvious instance of this occurring is when Peekay returns home from his amazing adventure with Hoppie and cannot find his Nanny waiting to embrace him. Peekay proceeds to question the members of the household in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of his Nanny, of Zululand descent. His mother is relatively uneasy to tell Peekay the truth. However, the boy's persistence coerces her to disclose what really happened to his Nanny who had been with him from birth, when she was deported to a facility for the mentally unstable. Apparently, Peekay's Nanny had been banished to her homeland because she refused to remove her defining amulets and accept Christianity. Peekay does not truly understand his Nanny's ostracism and realizes that there are many new changes with Dee and Dum, the two housemaids, as well. It is now...
pages: 7 (words: 1861)
comments: 0
added: 11/21/2011
One of the most valuable aspects of a book, or any literature, is the insight offered about the views of the author and the surrounding society and times. The way in which certain ideas are presented in different stories can be very telling about the attitude of the author, or maybe in describing a message he is trying to convey. This is perhaps the most important thing to walk away with after having experienced a piece of literature. It is sometimes difficult to find the underlying theme of a story, but it is imperative in order to find some common thread among several pieces of literature. The presentations of these common themes are key in making comparisons or discovering contrasts between pieces of literature that at first appear to be dissimilar and unrelated, such as "Things Fall Apart", "Cry, the Beloved Country", and "A Tale of Two Cities". One of the most prevalent themes throughout these three books is change, and how the characters deal with it. The characters in each book were faced with decisions regarding changes that faced them, their family, or the whole of society. The way in which the characters reacted when faced with these changes is very different from one story to the next. In Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" the theme of changing society is obvious in the revolution. The conditions of life grew continually worse for the peasants, who were the majority of the population in France at the time. The aristocrats were taking what little prosperity was left from the common people, turning France into a giant slum, sporadically dotted with grand castles and nobles living overly extravagant lifestyles. While France was taking this prolonged turn for the worse, the people of France were growing intolerant with the conditions forced on...
pages: 7 (words: 1799)
comments: 0
added: 12/20/2011
Achebe's Life and Work [/b][/b] Chinua Achebe was born November 16, 1930, in Ogidi, in eastern Nigeria, the son of a mission-school teacher, one of the early converts to Christianity in his community. (Unlike Okonkwo in TFA, Achebe's great-grandfather, who raised his father, had expressed tolerance towards the Christian missionaries and had no objections to his grandson's conversion.) He was baptized Albert Chinualumogu, in tribute to Prince Albert, but adopted a purely African name when he went to university. Grandfather was an important man in the traditional Igbo culture, so the story of Things Fall Apart is to some extent based on family history. As one might suspect from his father's occupation, the family was devoutly Christian, and he was encouraged as a child to feel superior to the "heathen" around him, although as an adult he has questioned whether his neighbors should rather have felt superior to the Christians, as having fallen away from traditional ways. Simon Gikandi points out that Achebe was in fact part of a privileged group within colonial culture, and Achebe too has observed that Christians had access to jobs and education that were denied to others. He was educated at prestigious colonialist schools and graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1953. He then worked in Nigerian radio (he was director of external broadcasting from 1960-67) until the Biafran War, during which he served the Biafran government, primarily as an ambassador to Europe and the United States seeking financial support for the fledgling state. He published his first novel, Things Fall Apart, in 1958, while Nigeria was still under colonial rule, and followed with three more novels in the next eight years: No Longer at Ease in 1960, Arrow of God in 1964, and A Man of the People in 1966. The last named...
pages: 15 (words: 4043)
comments: 0
added: 11/14/2011
The book Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe tells the story about a native living in Africa during the period of European imperialism. By placing the book during this time period Achebe can first explain traditional Ibo culture and then talk about the effect that the white European evangelists had on Ibo society. The book dispels the commonly held view of Africans before colonization as savage and godless beings. Achebe explains the very advanced social order in Umuofia and the complex Ibo religion. In bringing together what I have learned about Europe and Africa during the time of Imperialism I will draw a comparison between the two continents politically, religiously, and economically. Europe was ruled by a set of very powerful and competing monarchs during the time of imperialism. In these monarchies a king and queen had supreme power over their countries. In Umuofia there was a democratic system of government with no one ruler and a complex system by which people could gain political power through economic success. I think it is very ironic that when the white missionaries came they lectured the natives on how everyone was equal in the eyes of God, but yet they had supreme rulers in their own countries and a very unfair social caste system. Contrary to popular belief the Africans had a very complex religion before Christianity came. Everyone in the community was extremely religious, even obeying their religious leaders when they were told to kill their own children who were thought to be purveyors of communal misfortune. This seems very barbaric to us but their religion was strictly adhered to for what to them were completely rational reason. There were a collection of gods for different occurrences in nature and life, such as rain and fertility. Overall the religion was adapted...
pages: 3 (words: 632)
comments: 0
added: 10/30/2011
Things Fall Apart: Significance of title and the events that led up to Okonkwo falling apart What does the title means? Things Fall Apart is a tragic novel which is set in the Igbo community of Africa. Chinua Achebe, who is the author of this novel, portrays how an ambitious, well known, and respected African, Okonkwo, life falls apart. He was a man with great intensity and personality. He had accomplished his goal to become rich and famous, an advantage that was unseen before in his family. Okonkwo's life first began to fall apart when Ikemefuna, a prisoner who stayed at Okonkwo's home, was killed. Okonkwo considered Ikemefuna as one of his own sons. He was truly saddened when he was killed. There were quite few effects on Okonkwo from that horrible event. At first, Okonkwo was not able to sleep for days. He also kept on getting drunk, and that was a sign that he was miserable. Another thing, his family would look at him as if it were his fault that Ikemefuna is dead. This can be seen as an event where Okonkwo looses belief from his family. This relates to Okonkwo loosing faith in his father. Another significant incidence where Okonkwo's life falls apart was when he was thrown out of the clan for seven years. From this event, one can see that Okonkwo's hopes dreams have begun to fall apart. His hopes of being a rich and popular individual had drifted away with this disturbing incident. Okonkwo had no longer had his farm or animals. Also Okonkwo lost faith with most of his friends. This goes to show that Okonkwo lost faith with his friends, like his father lost faith with his. Another episode that showed the downfall in Okonkwo's life was when Nwoye, his oldest...
pages: 2 (words: 450)
comments: 0
added: 11/15/2011
" Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe's An analytical look at why the village of Umofia fell apart. Faith has always been a guiding force in man's life. Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart is a story that describes the effects of a new Christian religion in a tribal village of Africa. The tribe has their own language, known as Obi, a dignified culture and a value system that has continued for many years as they trace back into their ancestry. Yet, voids that this culture can no longer fill for modern tribesmen enable white missionaries to intrude upon this system and convert many of the tribe's younger members to the Christian faith. The tribal system falls apart because younger members are unable to remember persons of the past, unable to relate to violence when they have lived in safety and peace and are uninterested in a faith that does not fulfill their needs for music, joy and love, instead of discipline of a higher being. Okonkwo, the protagonist of the story, could remember to "another time" when children, like his own son Nwoye, were not lazy. He could also remember the indolence of his own father, Unoka, and that his father had not received any titles as a clansman. He was determined to be a respected farmer of yams to ward off the shame of his unsuccessful and dishonorable father. Fortunately, among these people a man was judged by his worth and not according to the worth of his father... As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. Okonkwo had clearly washed his hands and so he ate with kings and elders. (page 8) This was Okonkwo's motive in life and so he remained prosperous throughout his life and worked hard to...
pages: 6 (words: 1512)
comments: 0
added: 11/04/2011
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