How does Things Fall Apart resolve?
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart has a tragic resolution to close out the novel. Indeed, the novel ends with Okonkwo taking his own life, and his body must be removed by the District Commissioner. Okonkwo is unable to adjust to Umuofia after it has been altered by the pervasive colonial influence of white settlers. His inflexible will does not allow him to adjust to the changes of his home, so he chooses to hang himself. Obierika laments the loss of his best friend and blames the District Commissioner and men like him:
“That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog” (208).
Interestingly, Achebe resolves the novel by having the free indirect discourse focus on the District Commissioner’s perspective:
“As he walked back to the court he thought about that book. Every day brought him some new material. The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph at any rate” (208-9).
This achieves two different effects. First, it shows how the area has officially been changed through Western influence. Next, and most importantly, it shows how the Western narrative often takes precedent in the world as a whole. Oknokwo’s epic, tragic story will be a mere footnote in a Western representative’s narrative. Okonkwo and his clan are marginalized by Eurocentric forces.