“I thought the beginning was really boring but after awhile, it wasn't that hard to read. It was okay!”Cyndi! wrote this review 2 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“We frequently say that history is written by the victors, and so it is that the bulk of colonial literature we have has been written by white men. A recurring theme of the latter part of Things Fall Apart, after the missionaries arrive, is that white men do not understand the ways of the Igbo people they seek to evangelize, and further, they do not see them as worthy in and of themselves, which is shown perhaps no more clearly than in the book’s final paragraph.
My students are studying the book through a chosen anthropological lens: gender, religion, family, community, coping which change/tradition, and justice. I think this book has really interesting insights into the Igbo culture in each of these areas. On the surface, it’s easy to make snap judgments about the way that the people of Umuofia do certain things, and Okonkwo in particular can be infuriating because he seems, on the surface, so cruel to his family. Given the values of his clan, however, I can understand why he did some of the things he did. His fear of turning out like his father, or that his children would turn out like his father, drove many of his decisions, and above all, he seemed concerned about presenting himself as masculine.
I hope my students will find the journey interesting. I know I learned a lot through my own reading of the book. In the obituary I linked above:
“It would be impossible to say how Things Fall Apart influenced African writing,” the African scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah once observed. “It would be like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russians. Achebe didn’t only play the game, he invented it.”
The obituary calls Things Fall Apart “the opening of a long argument on his country’s behalf.” Achebe said, “Literature is always badly served when an author’s artistic insight yields to stereotype and malice… And it becomes doubly offensive when such a work is arrogantly proffered to you as your story.”
Things Fall Apart is an important book, an “education,” as Toni Morrison described it. I highly recommend it.”
“"But it was only a momentary check, like the tense silence between blasts of thunder. The second onrush was greater than the first. It swallowed up the two men. Then an unmistakable voice rose above the tumult and there was immediate silence."”Marina Kapes wrote this review 12 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Not for me at this time in my life”Darlene wrote this review 12 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I've read this book before but reread it, as I was teaching it for the first time. What strikes me is the richness of the characters and the culture and how Achebe, through simple scenes and language, creates a tragedy as compelling as any I've read. The character of Okonkwo, a man who who is proud, angry, and devoted to tradition, finds himself unable to cope with change and the accidents of fate; what role personal responsiblity plays in the novel is an intruiguing question, as is how much right one society has to impose its beliefs on another. Highly recommended.”Kimberly F wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Read for African History class, don't remember much about it.”Stephenie wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Conte Africain de style traditionnel qui concerne la colonisation des Ibos au Nigeria; faut-il et peut-on resister, mais il y a des collaborateurs; la tradition elle meme presente de graves defauts...
Un beau livre, universel...”
“An interesting novel due to the fact that it is set in a small community in Africa during the time of their colonization, Things Fall Apart is vastly different than anything I've read. It's not a book that I would recommend to most people, but if you're looking for something different or to expand your reading into world literature, this is a good choice. ”Ms. Hamilton wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Okonkwo is a leader in his tribe in Umuofia. When he was young he was raised by a weak man, Unoka, who died shamefully leaving many unpaid debts. Okonkwo has always strived to be nothing like his father and has therefore grown to be very hard-working and incredibly tough. Because of his position of leadership in the village, Okonkwo is selected to house a young boy, Ikemefuna, from a neighboring tribe. Ikemefuna’s father killed a woman from Umuofia and until a settlement can be reached between the two groups, Okonkwo is to keep the boy. He raises him as one of his own, remarking at times that Ikemefuna is much like the son he wishes he had. However, when the time of decision comes, several years later, it is Okonkwo who delivers the final blow, bringing Ikemefuna to his death.
This is when things start to go wrong for Okonkwo. He feels much guilt and sadness over Ikemefuna’s death, but as a strong, powerful leader he cannot show it. After a series of accidental missteps, Okonkwo is banished for seven years from his village. He goes back to his mother’s homeland and readies himself for his return. In the meantime, the white man has come to Nigeria and a new religion is taking over the land. Okonkwo fears his beloved village will change forever, and not for the better.
This was a difficult book to read, mostly because the main character, Okonkwo, is so incredibly unlikable. I understood that he was trying to distance himself from the shame of his father but he was taking it too far in the other direction. He was being too tough and strong when he could not see the strength in letting yourself have feelings.
However, the novel was very different than any other I have ever read. You could really see the struggles going on with colonialism coming in and taking over and the adjustments everyone in the village had to make. For some people it was a good thing and others...definitely not. But I definitely felt transported to a different place and time and that was really wonderful. I just kept hoping that at some point along the way Okonkwo would realize his mistakes and grow as a person...
“Two weeks before Chinua Achebe's death, my book club chose Things Fall Apart for reading in May. I did read it while I was working in Somalia in the 1970's, but now I will read also literary and other critics.”Leena Marjatta wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No