What historical themes are related to Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe?

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There are many relevant and resonant historical themes in Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart . Achebe was a Nigerian writer (although he usually wrote in English) and one of the first African writers, if not the first, to reach a wide Western audience. The book is split...

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There are many relevant and resonant historical themes in Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart. Achebe was a Nigerian writer (although he usually wrote in English) and one of the first African writers, if not the first, to reach a wide Western audience. The book is split into two sections, each of which is tied to the history of Nigeria. In the first portion, Achebe is dealing with the Igbo tribe. Aside from telling the story of Okonkwo, his main character, Achebe is also re-creating the culture, religion, and customs of the indigenous people. In talking about the novel, Achebe would note how much of the native culture of Africa was lost or destroyed by the European colonization of the continent.

This brings us to the second part of the novel, which is about the arrival of the English. This is the group which colonized Nigeria. Missionaries bring Christianity and attempt to strip the Igbo of their religion. Okonkwo and others rebel against the colonizers. Their struggles culminate with Okonkwo's suicide. Although the novel is fictional, Achebe is dealing with the real history of his country and with colonization and imperialism, which are massively important themes in his novel and those of other African writers. It would be smart to look at some examples of post-colonial theory and criticism, which would provide context for the novel.

I'd also recommend Achebe's book of essays, The Education of a British-Protected Child.

Further Reading:

britannica.com/topic/Things-Fall-Apart

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