What are the themes of protests and revolution in Things Fall Apart?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Part I of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo generally protests and revolts against femininity and religion (the Oracle of the Hills and Caves governed by the priestess Agbala).  Okonkwo equates femininity and domesticity with weakness and laziness because of his father's legacy.  In short, Okonkwo would rather work his yam fields than sit around the feast talking.  As such, he expresses his anger toward his family: Okonkwo beats his wife during Peace Week, nearly shoots his wife, and kills Ikemefuna all as protests against being told what to do by the feminine subculture which controls the feasts and oracles.

In Parts II and III of the novel, Okonkwo protests and revolts inwardly against his mother's tribe in their passivity, inwardly against his own tribe in their acceptance of Christianity, and violently against the British colonists.  Okonkwo wants to re-establish himself as a warrior in the tribe, but his people have become too institutionalized to wage warfare; instead, they acquiesce to the colonists' demands.  Okonkwo, seeing his people as weak, asserts himself by organizing the burning of the Church, beheading the messenger, and--sadly--by hanging himself.  All of these acts serve as individual protests against a social problem out of his control.  In the end, Okonkwo serves as a tragic hero of his people's culture falling apart.