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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Part One
Chapter 1

1. Compare and contrast Okonkwo with his father, Unoka. Give special attention to the reasons why Okonkwo disdains his father and strives to succeed.

2. Discuss the significance of the three proverbs introduced in Chapter One. Thoroughly explain each proverb and define its meaning in the context of the chapter. What is Chinua Achebe’s overall purpose in using Igbo proverbs in the novel?

Chapter 2
1. In what ways is Okonkwo a respected leader in the village? Give three examples to support your points.

2. Describe the homestead of Okonkwo, his three wives, and eight children. What does the homestead reveal about Igbo culture? Discuss three points and provide examples to support your ideas.

Chapter 3
1. The author introduces Chika and one of Nwakibie’s nine wives. He also mentions Okonkwo’s mother and sisters. Based upon this information, describe at least three various roles women play in Igbo society. Use examples to support your points.

2. Explain the Igbo concept of chi and show how this concept relates to Okonkwo’s desired success in life.

Chapter 4
1. Compare and contrast the way Okonkwo treats Osugo, his wives, and his sons. Is Okonkwo harsher to men, women, or children? Support your points with examples.

2. Discuss the symbolic meaning of the Week of Peace for the Igbo people. How does Okonkwo’s anger violate the Week of Peace?

Chapter 5
1. Okonkwo is angry because he is unable to work during the preparations for the New Yam Festival. Compare and contrast Okonkwo’s behavior during the festival with his behavior during the Week of Peace.

2. Polygamy is defined as the practice of having more than one spouse at a time. The work and play of the women and children in this chapter provide examples of a harmonious polygamous household. Describe this household in terms of the relationships between Okonkwo’s wives and children.

Chapter 6
1. Describe Okonkwo’s reaction to the wrestling match. Why do you think he reacts this way?

2. Describe the relationships among Chielo, Ekwefi, and Ezinma. How do you know that Chielo is really no ordinary person?

Chapter 7
1. Okonkwo is inwardly pleased with his son Nwoye. He attributes Nwoye’s development to Ikemefuna. Why does Okonkwo want Nwoye to be a prosperous man and feed the ancestors with regular sacrifices?

2. Okonkwo loves Ikemefuna, and the boy calls him father. Yet, Okonkwo kills his adopted son in cold blood. Why does Okonkwo kill Ikemefuna? Ezeudu is an elder and a leader in the community. Why didn’t Okonkwo heed Ezeudu’s advice? Is Okonkwo making up his own rules, regulations, and customs? Prove your points.

Chapter 8
1. Compare and contrast Okonkwo and his friend Obierika. Which one of the men is more balanced? Prove your position with a good example.

2. Discuss the role of women in founding and maintaining a family in Igbo society. Explain the custom of the bride-price.

Chapter 9
1. The concept of ogbanje is foreign to Western readers. Explain the concept, and show how Ekwefi’s sorrow contributes to her love for Ezinma.

2. Okonkwo shows a softer, more loving side in his relationship with Ezinma. Provide two examples from this chapter illustrating Okonkwo’s care and concern.

Chapter 10
1. Explain the judicial function of the egwugwu and the relationship of the egwugwu to the living. Note the relationship of the egwugwu to Igbo women.

2. How do you know that Okonkwo is one of the egwugwu? What qualifications does Okonkwo have to enter the secret society? Support your points with examples.

Chapter 11
1. Explain how the story of Tortoise and the birds fits in with some of the other stories Achebe has told about animals throughout the novel. Explain the purpose of these stories.

2. Explain the Oracle and Chielo’s relationship with her god. Explain why all the characters, Okonkwo, Ekwefi, Ezinma, and Chielo, were powerless to alter the events of this dark night.

Chapter 12
1. Describe the role of women in Igbo society based on the information you have gathered in this chapter. Discuss the role of women in the family, women in religion, and women in politics.

2. Explain how Achebe complicates the character of Okonkwo. Compare Okonkwo on the dark night he waited for Ezinma at the cave of Agbala with Okonkwo on the day he accompanied his adopted son, Ikemefuna, through the forest.

Chapter 13
1. Explain why Ezeudu is such an important and well-respected man in Umuofia. Discuss his family, his finances, his political power, and his role in the community. Explain how Ezeudu interpreted the decrees of the Earth goddess in terms of Okonkwo’s responsibility to his adopted son, Ikemefuna.

2. Obierika is a thoughtful, well-balanced Igbo. Explain how Obierika can question the justice of the Earth goddess, support Okonkwo by storing his yams, and raze his friend’s homestead at the same time.

Part Two
Chapter 14
1. Uchendu attempts to convince Okonkwo that he is not
the greatest sufferer in the world. Provide three examples Uchendu uses to make his point.

2. Give a detailed analysis of the saying “Mother is Supreme,” as it relates to Okonkwo. (p. 94) Use three examples to support your points.

Chapter 15
1. Give a detailed example explaining how Obierika is a good and loyal friend to Okonkwo.

2. Why does Uchendu tell the story of Mother Kite? Give three reasons to support your points.

Chapter 16
1. An efulefu is a man who sells his machete and wears only his sheath into battle. Is the efulefu a good representation of the Igbo men and women who were first attracted to Christianity? Provide at least three examples to support your point.

2. Explain how Christianity exacerbates the relationship between Nwoye and Okonkwo.

Chapter 17
1. Explain why Nwoye’s interest in Christianity may result in the annihilation of Okonkwo and his ancestors. Provide two quotes to support your points.

2. As he stares into the fire, Okonkwo ponders Nwoye’s behavior. He wonders how a man like himself could father a weak and useless son like Nwoye. What is Okonkwo’s analysis of the situation?

Chapter 18
1. Describe the osu and explain why the young church is upset about allowing the osu to join the congregation.

2. Some members of the traditional Igbo community want to persecute the Christians; others take a more moderate stand. Explain the rationale behind the two different reactions to the Christians.

Chapter 19
1. What does the elder mean when he says the young people do not know how to speak with one voice? Explain why the elders are fearful for the younger generation.

2. Has Okonkwo learned the supremacy of a mother’s love during his exile in Mbanta? Provide three examples to support your point.

Part Three
Chapter 20
1. Identify the role and function of the court messengers and explain the native court system. Use the land dispute between Aneto and Oduche to illustrate how the native court system worked.

2. At the end of this chapter, Obierika explains that the white man “. . . has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” (p. 125) Explain the meaning of Obierika’s words and provide three examples to support your point.

Chapter 21
1. Okonkwo plans to return to Umuofia with a flourish. Discuss in detail three reasons why his return is not as exciting as he planned.

2. Explain one basic way in which the Igbo traditional religion is similar to Christianity. Explain another fundamental way in which the Igbo traditional religion is different from Christianity.

Chapter 22
1. Compare and contrast Mr. Brown with Reverend Smith; compare and contrast Reverend Smith with Enoch.

2. Describe Enoch’s crime and explain why it is such a serious offense.

Chapter 23
1. Describe Okonkwo’s reaction to the summons from the District Commissioner and his reaction to his imprisonment.

2. Compare and contrast the way the District Commissioner and the court messengers treat the Igbo leaders.

Chapter 24
1. Give three basic reasons why Okonkwo kills the court messenger. Use examples to support your points.

2. Give three basic reasons why the people of Umuofia do not rise up and support Okonkwo by capturing the other four messengers. Use examples to support your points.

Chapter 25
1. Is Okonkwo a tragic hero, or is he a fool? Is Okonkwo selfish? How would you describe Okonkwo at the end of the novel? Use three examples to support your point.

2. What does the title of the District Commissioner’s book tell you about his attitude toward the Igbo people? How would a successful Igbo living in Umuofia at the time of Okonkwo’s death title the commissioner’s book? How would an osu or an anguished mother of twins title the work? How would you title the commissioner’s book?

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