Bite-size Review: Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe


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Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe

Achebe, often deemed as The Godfather of all written African literature in English, in his exceptional and timeless classic beckons the reader to question and reason with the “conquered” history of Africans. Achebe vividly paints personal family recollections to deconstruct the colonial governance of the fictional Nigerian Igbo village, Umuofia, transposing this deconstruction to the rest of Anglophone African countries. Things Fall Apart examines how the British colonial administration and religious imposition threatens the harmonious customs and tradition of the Umuofian people.

Written in third person (limited point of view) narrative, the story follows the life of tragic-hero Okonkwo, the greatest, proudest village warrior who struggles to withstand significant changes brought by missionaries, and this struggle leads to his ultimate demise. Okonkwo symbolises absolute masculinity, abhorring any presence of emotion/femininity/weakness displayed in men, and his destruction is a microcosm of the tragedy that befell Africa. This novel is an enjoyable read with the seamless weaving of proverbs within the narration. The title itself is taken from W. B. Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’, a line states: ‘things fall apart the centre cannot hold’. A masterpiece.

(Recommend Penguin Red Classic 2006 edition)


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