Why is Things Fall Apart a suitable title for the novel?
The title Things Fall Apart directly relates to the major themes in Chinua Achebe's novel. The protagonist Okonkwo is first introduced in an environment in which he has truly succeeded. He has worked his way up from a childhood of shame and poverty, caused by his father's inaction, into a role within his society that is considered the epitome of masculinity and power.
However, as the novel progresses, things do fall apart for Okonkwo. With the arrival of the European colonists and missionaries, his family and culture rapidly deteriorate. His son leaves his family and becomes Christian, adopting a new name. He accidentally kills another man, and he is banished from the village for nine years. Finally, he cannot rally his village around him to rise against the imperialist threat. As such, his entire life falls apart, just like the title.
The title Things fall apart is quite suitable for the novel. It is derived from the opening lines of W.B Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming”:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...
By beginning the novel by the above lines, Achebe hints that the colonization brings anarchy to the Igbo tribe. In the initial part of the novel, he gives us a detailed picture of Igbo life, their way of living in their limited world. Everything seems usual and people are content with their usual lives. They face the same problems which they earlier faced.
But after the advent of Colonial missionaries on African land, the status-quo is changed and this is akin to the arrival of aliens. These colonial people have different beliefs and religious system and they proclaim their own god as ultimate god denouncing the gods of Igbo as :
“Gods of deceit who tell you to kill your fellows and destroy innocent children.”
Not only Igbo religion, they criticise their traditional practices, one of the converts committed one of the severest crime against Igbos i.e unmasking an Egwugwu (ancestral spirits of the clan).
The process of colonization begins, imposing their own administration and justice system along with their way of living.
It’s only after the coming of colonial people, the world of Igbo witness disruption and interference in their life and things which are sacred to them are being insulted openly by the foreigners.
In this way, things begin to fall apart belonging to the native tribe due to colonial people’s imperial motive. So the title of the novel is appropriate and justifies the main theme it carries.