Achebe's Things Fall Apart 101Hi there!- You see- I've only started reading the magical book that has come to us from this amazingly foreign yet incredibly compelling author, but I have already...

Achebe's Things Fall Apart 101

Hi there!- You see- I've only started reading the magical book that has come to us from this amazingly foreign yet incredibly compelling author, but I have already been reeled into the plot. Now, my only question/ concern about this book is the fact that it may be a tidbit inappropriate- now I haven't read it fully so please don't judge me for this- but I want honest opinions about this book and justifications about why you like this book, writing style, or maybe just the author. That, and I would like some tips on how to annotate this text in the way most teachers would like it to be, and I may have questions later, so please be helpful in whatever way you can.  I would love to hear from you! Thank you.

Asked on by tunia329

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

So you know, you did not offend me at all. I was simply stating that all people do not interpret texts in the same way and, therefore, may not see the same issues that others see.

I truly hope you understand the point I was making. It was not to make you feel as though I was offended. I was not. Actually, I encourage and applaud my own students when they provide alternative interpretations of texts.

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Please don't worry, tunia329, about having offended any Editor Experts on eNotes. Educators may tend to be a little surprised--perhaps dismayed--when titles on the curriculum strikes students with impressions that are negative, that are opposite of what is expected.

Nonetheless, your hesitations and tidbit of a negative evaluation show that you are developing a mind of your own predicated upon critical thinking. Continue to question and voice opinions, as they honestly come to you, that may go against expectation.

Having said this, it is a very unpopular opinion to suggest that cultural literature or post-colonial literature or even regional literature contains content that is "inappropriate" for the minds of young readers in high school and college.

Nonetheless, I actually agree with you that the violent content in this book is not suitable for students young minds. With all the "entertainment" violence and hatred and with all the "live action" news reporting we are all exposed to [even those without TV and with strict movie viewing standards cannot escape live reports of real horrors or images of "entertainment" that try to emulate horrific reality], we forget the age-old wisdom that says that what goes by way of the senses and mind lodges in and comes back out by way of the heart and mind.

While we may become accustomed to exposure to horrors, like suicides, murders, and violent abuses, it is nonetheless true that the shock to our minds, souls, and psyches remains consistent (though perhaps unfelt) over time and produces adverse effects.

For these reasons, I agree with you that the images and social realities associated with what we would in other circumstances recognize as horrors are not appropriate literary reading for young minds. Fully mature adult minds may be able to read past the experience of the raw and shocking events, like suicides, and thus glean the social commentary that will precipitate and lead to social action, but young minds only feel the trauma even though it is couched as educational literature. Perhaps this is one reason prejudices and ethnic antagonisms are in some senses rising to higher levels in the U.S. rather than subsiding: young minds are being exposed to too much in literature that would otherwise constitute horrors to be protected from.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Sometimes it may be a good thing when a book makes you feel uncomfortable--though sometimes it may not be.  By inappropriate, do you mean the content?  If you mean the difficulty level, annotation can actually help you understand the book.  Underline or highlight important information, and write questions in the margins as you read.  Then, you can ask them on enotes!

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I guess I would like to offer my own point-of-view about appropriateness of a text. Some people simply do not accept certain things about a text based upon their own personal upbringing. I have a student that I needed to provide an alternative text to based upon their family's religious beliefs. While I, as an English teacher, do not believe in censoring, I cannot justify a book being inappropriate for another person.

As asked by a previous poster, I, too, am curious about what you found a "tidbit inappropriate."

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with the above poster, it would be a stretch to say that Things Fall Apart was inappropriate for anything above a ninth grade classroom. I can only echo the above comments about annotation, so I will answer the other part of the question. What I like about the book is that it turns many of the classic self-serving narratives of colonialism on their heads. It is the Igbo who are, after a fashion, democratic, community-oriented, and have deep traditions and social connections.  The colonialists, ostensibly bringing "civilization," upset all this. Achebe doesn't blink at some of the more cruel practices of the Igbo, particularly their hierarchical nature of their society and the occasional violence against twins, for example, but he certainly reclaims a certain amount of humanity for the Igbo.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Why is it that you feel this book is inappropriate? There is nothing that I am aware of that would make it so. Remember that this book is taught in a number of different schools and colleges, and is not something that would be taught in such widespread contexts were it inappropriate. As far as annotation is concerned, you might like to ask your teacher for some advice. What are their guidelines about how to annotate the text? I would personally like to see key words or phrases underlined, circled or highlighted with comments written in the margin about their significance.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There are a couple of ways in which you may want to annotate the book.  One would involve tracing themes throughout the novel.  In other words, are there any particular topics that the author deals with again and again as the book develops?  Are there any similarities and/or differences in the ways the topics are dealt with?

Another way you may wish to annotate the book would involve looking for patterns of imagery.  Are there any particular kinds of imagery that the author uses repeatedly?  If so, how do those patterns contribute to the meaning and effectiveness of the book?

You may also want to look for consistencies and/or inconsistencies in the characterization and also for patterns in the relations among the characters.

Good luck!

tunia329's profile pic

tunia329 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Oh good! I didn't want to offend anyone!

Now- onto the serious stuff- I left my copy of Things Fall Apart at school, and it is Friday!! Uh-oh!

Can someone tell me what happens after Okonkwo kills his helper/adoptive son?

I have a final exam coming up and I need to be able to know what the book is about.

Help?

tunia329's profile pic

tunia329 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

I guess I would like to offer my own point-of-view about appropriateness of a text. Some people simply do not accept certain things about a text based upon their own personal upbringing. I have a student that I needed to provide an alternative text to based upon their family's religious beliefs. While I, as an English teacher, do not believe in censoring, I cannot justify a book being inappropriate for another person.

As asked by a previous poster, I, too, am curious about what you found a "tidbit inappropriate."

I'm sorry-I didn't mean to offend anyone as to how the book was supposed to be inmterpreted, I just thought that maybe the violence overall may have been a bit shocking to people used to having books with a happy ending- which many of my classmates do- it is kind of a down-putting conclusion to this story. I very much enjoyed the novel, but as more and more of my peers voiced overall concern with the depressing death of Okonkwo, and the beatings many of the characters had to withstand, I grew less and less sure if my opinion, which was admiration for the author of such an amazing short novel was acceptable and even justifiable. I just wanted to know how to explain why I liked the book, while many of my classmates very much disliked it.

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