Things Fall Apart Questions and Answers
by Chinua Achebe

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How is Things Fall Apart relevant to the world around us?

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Many relevant lessons can be drawn from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. One lesson is seen when Okonkwo follows the crowd rather than following his own conscience and moral beliefs. Because of this, he ends up facing great guilt and other consequences.

Okonkwo ends up adopting a young child, Ikemefuna, from a neighboring village. This boy is given (along with a young virgin girl) to Okonkwo's village (Umuofia) from the neighboring village to maintain peace. Okonkwo slowly grows to love Ikemefuna and begins to treat him as his own son. In chapter seven, we hear about how much a part of Okonkwo's family Ikemefuna had become:

"For three years Ikemefuna lived in Okonkwo's household and the elders of Umuofia seemed to have forgotten about him. He grew rapidly like a yam tendril in the rainy season, and was full of the sap of life. He had become wholly absorbed into his new family" (ch. 7).

Okonkwo's friends and neighbors see how much a part of the family that Ikemefuna had become. For instance,...

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Chinua Achebe, who has been hailed the father of African Literature, essentially wrote Things Fall Apart as a response to James Cary's Master-Johnson and other biased accounts of pre-colonial African life. After he encountered Cary’s book at Ibadan while a student there, Achebe realized the danger in allowing the African story to be told from the colonial perspective, Therefore, he embarked on a mission to provide a true account of African life as opposed to Cary’s depiction of Africans as jealous savages who live "like mice or rats in a palace floor or as grinning dancers whose faces seemed entirely dislocated, senseless and unhuman, like twisted bags of lard" Achebe tells his own story around a larger-than life character, Okonkwo, a warrior who has come a long way from the embarrassment of his heritage- His father, Unoka, a lazy debtor was irresponsible and less than a man. Okonkwo strives to change his story and achieves great wealth through determination and hardwork. He garners fame by throwing Amalinze the cat and capitalizes on that fame to enjoy connections that subsequently catapult him to a good life- three wives and many children including his daughter Ezinma whom he adores and often wishes were a boy. in his life, Achebe portrays the beauty and serenity of life before the intrusion of colonialism and how this intrusion precipitates Okonkwo's downfall.

In his 1965 essay, “The African writer and the English Language”, Achebe points out that writers should aim at fashioning out creative ways of using language and style to carry their peculiar experiences in order to universalize them. This advice and Achebe's Things Fall Apart have inspired other writers across the world and popularized postcolonial literature. The fact that Things Fall Apart written more than fifty years ago has remained a phenomenon, having impacted millions of people, explains the meaning of Achebe’s own words that a great novel “alters the situation in the world.”