Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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At a Glance

  • Okonkwo, the protagonist, whose downfall begins when he kills Ikemefuna.
  • Ikemefuna, Okonkwo's ward from a neighboring village, whom he kills so as not to appear weak.
  • Obierika, Okonkwo's best friend, who helps him in times of crisis.
  • Ezinma, Okonkwo's daughter, the only surviving child of Ekwefi.
  • Ekwefi, Okonkwo's second wife, who bears ten children, nine of which die.
  • Nwoye, Okonkwo's son, who converts to Christianity.
  • Unoka, Okonkwo's father, who dies a lazy debtor.
  • Ogbuefi Ezeudu, the eldest man in Umuofia.

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All Characters

Okonkwo

The protagonist of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is a stubborn, impatient, and fear-driven character who represents power, toxic masculinity, and traditional values. He is ashamed of his father, Unoka, because Unoka was constantly in debt to others and lived a financially unsuccessful life. This shame drives Okonkwo's attitude and fear of failure. Okonkwo desires to be as unlike his father as possible. (Read extended character analysis of Okonkwo.)

Unoka

Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, is a gentle and idle man that is fond of playing music. A foil to Okonkwo, Unoka is not a successful or respected man. He plays music well and is able to weave and tell creative folktales. This is in direct contrast to Okonkwo’s rejection of music and insistence on only telling cold and gory war stories. Unoka’s draw to music and storytelling highlight his sensitive and creative nature that Okonkwo so despises. (Read extended character analysis of Unoka.)

Nwoye

Nwoye is the son of Okonkwo’s first wife. Within the family hierarchy, this positions Nwoye as the highest ranking and eldest son. Nwoye, like Unoka, serves as a foil to Okonkwo’s character. Nwoye often does not exhibit the supposedly manly qualities that his father values. Instead he shares similarities with the kinder, gentler Unoka. He is sensitive, troubled by some Umuofian practices, and is drawn to music, hope, and the poetry of the new religion, Christianity. (Read extended character analysis of Nwoye.)

Obierika

Obierika is Okonkwo’s closest friend, knew Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, and understands Okonkwo’s background. Unlike Okonkwo, Obierika is reflective and thoughtful. He often provides commentary on Okonkwo’s actions and on life in Umuofia. These characteristics make Obierika a foil to the more impulsive Okonkwo. Obierika is less driven to prove himself than Okonkwo, which allows him to see things more clearly. However, Okonkwo rarely heeds Obierika's advice. (Read extended character analysis of Obierika.)

Minor Characters

Ezinma

Ezinma is Ekwefi’s only daughter. She is Okonkwo’s favorite daughter and is wise beyond her years. Ezinma and Ekwefi are very close. They are more confidantes than mother and daughter.

Obiageli

Obiageli is Okonkwo’s first wife’s daughter.

Nkechi

Nkechi is Okonkwo’s third wife’s daughter. 

Uchendu

Okonkwo’s eldest cousin, Uchendu, takes in and helps Okonkwo when he returns to Mbanta after his banishment.

Nwakibie

A wealthy man of the village...

(The entire section is 1,162 words.)