Things Fall Apart Literary Analysis Free Essay

Total Length: 367 words ( 1 double-spaced pages)

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Okonkwo, the protagonist of Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, exemplifies the traits of a classic tragic hero. Determined to cling to the past and its out-dated traditions and social norms, Okonkwo uses violence to maintain his power and prestige in the community. As a result, he is a feared leader even more than an effective one. Through the character of Okonkwo and the setting of the Nigerian village, author Chinua Achebe shows how things fall apart when leaders resist change.

Things Fall Apart has several interrelated themes, the most notable of which is linked to the title. Okonkwo believes that in order to be an effective leader, he must use violence and aggression instead of methods that promote peace and collaboration. He understandably resists the colonial influences on his village, but fails to provide his fellow people with a viable alternative they can embrace. As a result of his conditioned actions, things fall apart not just for Okonkwo but his entire community.

The theme of resisting change is effectively delivered in the novel through characterization.
Okonkwo embodies the characteristics of his vision of masculinity, passed on from his father. The way he treats his sons reflects his belief that masculinity is about power and dominance, and not about cooperation or peacemaking. As a result, Okonkwo is unable to forge the strategic alliances he needs to survive as a leader or to help his community transition to the new world posed by the imposing colonialists.

Being set in rural Nigeria also helped Achebe deliver the theme of Things Fall Apart. The traditional life of the villagers in Umuofia is highly structured and hierarchical, with a strict social order based on gender, age, and status. At the highest rung of his society, Okonkwo abuses his power but is unable to become humble when the circumstances call for it. He is eventually exiled from the village of his birth, bereft of power and left without a community that loves or supports him.

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Achebe, C. (2012). Things fall apart. Prentice Hall: Literature, Grade 10, Part 2, Common Core Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. (pp. 1053-1055). Retrieved from

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