Life Goes On in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart


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Things Fall Apart and Life Goes On  

Achebe often centers on the conflicts of man within himself and with his culture. Things Fall Apart is no exception. Achebe’s story is about a strong man, Okonkwo, whose life is dominated by fear and anger.

 The fear of the main character, Okonkwo, is generated first by fear of failure and then by a fear of the unknown. The unknown in this story is the oncoming of the English into Africa. A religion is brought to the villages, and new ways of thinking arise. Overall, the African village Okonkwo knew and grew up in slowly begins to disappear. Okonkwo is not only afraid for himself but for his entire village. He is afraid that his culture will vanish and be forgotten by the younger generations.

 Achebe is able to show the reader his intentions at the very beginning of the book by including a quote from W.B. Yeats’ poem "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Achebe lets the reader know from the beginning that Nigeria's rich cultural heritage is falling apart and that there will be no happy ending. The life of Okonkwo symbolizes the life and richness of the tribe and village. As the story progresses Okonkwo’s life begins to go downhill and so does that of the village. The story ends with the death of Okonkwo and the death of an entire civilization. The colonials have taken over the village; the children no longer believe in the old ways. Things fall apart and no one wants to put them back together. Life goes on with the invasion of the English, but never will it be the same.

 Achebe was born and raised in a large village in Nigeria. He was also educated in Nigeria. After a short career in radio, Achebe began to lecture abroad and settled for a while as an English professor at the University of Massachusetts.

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Many of his works have received numerous honors from around the world. Achebe has earned more than twenty honorary doctorates from universities in England, the United States, Nigeria, Scotland, and Canada. Achebe was cited as one the "1,000 Makers of the Twentieth Century" by the London Sunday Times for "defining ‘a modern African literature that was truly African’ and thereby making ‘a major contribution to world literature’" (213).

 

 


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