Things Fall Apart

This is the homepage for Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Context of the Novel

The novel is set in Nigeria during the 1890’s. At the time European colonisation of much of Africa was in full swing – in this case by the British.

Task: Choose 2 of these questions to research

1) Where and when was Chinua Achebe born?

2) Briefly describe the Ibo people (also known as Igbo, Ebo, Heebo)- where are they from?

3) Define colonialism:

4) Before colonization, how were their subgroup formed?

5) How did that change under the British?

6) Briefly describe the “traditional society” of the Ibo.

7) Briefly describe the ways in which colonialism changed that society.

8) Briefly describe palm wine and the process of tapping palm trees.

9) Define proverb and list two examples:

10)Do a brief bit of research on missionaries, missionizing, etc. Briefly explain some of the arguments against missionary work.

Introduction to the Novel

Read the first three chapters of the novel. Take note of the following features by annotating them in your copy of the text:

  • The use of proverb
  • Descriptions of cultural activities, ceremony’s and other practices unique to the Ibo
  • representations of gender

Task: What do you notice about these descriptions? Are they mostly positive or negative (or neutral)? Are they detailed? Why so?

An interesting feature of Things Fall Apart is that Achebe wrote the novel in English.  Given the above activity and this feature, who was Achebe’s intended audience?

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