Things Fall Apart Questions and Answers
by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are the major lessons in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart?

There are many major lessons to be taken from Things Fall Apart. One is a historical lesson about how colonialism impacted Africans, specifically the Igbo tribe. Another lesson is how violence and pride can bring down an individual, specifically the book's protagonist, Okonkwo. A final lesson is that despite Europeans' claims of bringing "civilization" to Africa, there was already a complex and varied culture on the continent.

Expert Answers info

Colin Cavendish-Jones, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor, Lawyer

bookM.A. from Oxford University

bookPh.D. from St. Andrews University


calendarEducator since 2019

write2,273 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The lessons of Things Fall Apart are not generally uplifting or optimistic. It is, after all, a book about the degeneration and destruction of a society. One of its grimmest lessons is that force, not virtue, generally triumphs. Okonkwo is initially a success because of his strength and physical violence. He can dominate all those around him and does so very harshly. His power is vanquished not by love or courage or any other positive quality, but simply by greater force, as the violence of the tribe gives way to the more organized and more destructive violence of the British Empire.

Another lesson is that societies generally decay from within before being attacked from without. The Igbo community, like the Mughal Empire in India and the Inca Empire in Peru, is already in decline by the time it is colonized. A lack of confidence, fostered by insidious external influence, accompanies and exacerbates this decline. The tribe initially has a culture and a power structure which are based on...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1,013 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lukas Sherman, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Boston University

bookM.A. from Concordia University - Portland


calendarEducator since 2018

write226 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ester Baumgartner, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookPh.D. from University of Miami (Fla.)


calendarEducator since 2016

write785 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Arts, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,269 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial