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Chinua Achebe is the ideal teller of this story, born in Nigeria in 1930 and growing up in the Igbo town of Ogidi.He spoke Igbo at home and studied English in school, imbibing the dual culture.
Viewing society from the inside, students can make inferences about why a high value is accorded to clan solidarity, kinship, and hospitality, and the reasons for courtship and funeral customs.
In a culture without written language, the arts of conversation and oration are prized.
Things Fall Apart is acclaimed as the finest novel written about life in Nigeria at the end of the nineteenth century.
Published in 1958, it is unquestionably the world’s most widely read African novel, having sold more than eight million copies in English and been translated into fifty languages.
Achebe uses that most English of literary forms, the novel, to make his story accessible to Westerners, and interlaces the narrative with Igbo proverbs and folktales.
The novel challenges Western notions of historical truth, and prods readers into questioning our perception of pre-colonial and colonial Africa.For years, stories told about white slavers are given little credence in Okonkwo’s village. How does Chukwu compare with the Christian concept of a supreme being? It carries the reader forward in the lives of the descendants of Okonkwo.The first white man to arrive in a nearby village is killed because of an omen, and in retribution all are slaughtered by British guns. How does fear influence Okonkwo’s relationship with others? How is the concept of change and the response to change presented in the novel? The novel focuses on Obi Okonkwo, whose downfall is caused by his inability to deal with the conflicting value systems of Igbo culture and his English training. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe (1964) takes place during the era between No Longer at Ease and Things Fall Apart.Christian missionaries seem to be madmen, their message of wicked ways and false gods attractive only to outcasts. What is the significance of the song sung at the end of Chapter Twelve? It is the story of an Igbo priest who copes with change by compromising his values and traditions.But along with Christianity come hospitals and schools, converting farmers to court clerks and teachers. Government is closely linked to religion and literacy. He sends his son to a mission school and testifies against his people in a land dispute.In an autobiographical essay, he describes his childhood as being “at the crossroads of cultures.” In the course of a distinguished academic and literary career, much of it in exile, Achebe has been the recipient of many awards, beginning with the Margaret Wrong Memorial Prize in 1959 for Things Fall Apart and including more than thirty honorary doctorates.Achebe is in great demand throughout the world as a speaker and visiting lecturer, and is presently teaching at Bard College in New York.Students might well keep journals in which they identify their own culture’s equivalent to each Igbo folkway, discovering affinities as well as differences.There is no culture shock in discovering that Okonkwo’s father has low status because of his laziness and improvidence.Wisdom is transmitted through proverbs, stories, and myths.The agrarian cycle of seasons, with their work and festivals, the judicious use of snuff and palm wine, the importance of music and dance, all could be noted and compared to similar Western mores. At the end of Chapter Twenty, Obierika tells Okonkwo, “He [the white man] has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” Explain the significance of this statement. How does Okonkwo’s suicide represent a break in the traditional Igbo culture? Achebe seamlessly merges Igbo vocabulary into the general text. What is the significance of the pidgin English that is used for communication between the Igbo people and the colonists? The title of the novel comes from a line in The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats.