An argumentative interpretation of ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

Posted: October 17th, 2013





An argumentative interpretation of ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

            Things Fall Apart is an English-language African-culture novel by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. The book has gained international scholarly recognition; hence, it is widely used in many African nations as a literature book in English classes. Chinua Achebe’s book offers a great literature platform for critical reading, as it offers a different angles from previous readings on the African cultures; it narrates basing its arguments on the African angle hence is fair (Booker, 2011).

It is written in the English language showing the effect of colonization on African cultures. This further supports his argument that suppression of the native language eased the ability of the settlers to gain a strong hold of Africans hence being able to break the weak native structures to impose their own. This brings out the importance of a language to a culture and the influence that a language can have on the government and political structure of a culture. Things fall apart has offered a background on which other African writers can base their works (Booker, 2011). It has led to freedom in writing in the manner where the writers portray what they feel to be true in their writings without fear. This has transformed African literature. It is used as a literary set book across Africa thus creating a new outlook on this form of literal work.

This novel is realistic as it portrays the plight and struggle of the Africans to protect their heritage from the intrusion of the more powerful westerners and the effects of the lack respect for the diversity of culture by the more powerful western culture (Whittaker, 2007). It clearly brings out the importance of the African identity and nationalism to the Africans and the effects of cultural misunderstandings due to colonization. Okonkwo a character in this case, was not willing to lay down his African customs and adapt the western culture and was willing to go to war in order to protect his African heritage (Achebe, 1994). This passion in upholding the African identity eventually led to his committing suicide, as he could not fathom the fact that his fellow tribesmen were not willing to risk their lives as long as it protected their culture from being overtaken and replaced by that of the white settlers.

It also focuses on cultural ambiguity, for instance where it discusses how Okonkwo participates in his son’s killing just in order to appear strong among the males in his village (Achebe, 1994). This shows that resulting to adverse actions in dedication to cultural identity is not always justified especially where the actions are selfish, and are in place to fulfill one’s social position in the society, where they may at the same time lead to the harm of other individuals. This portrays the African culture as one needing a leader and a system that would eliminate such unnecessary rituals.

This novel portrays Africans as people dedicated to upholding their dignity and rituals, who had a moral force driving them, a stark contrast to the writings of most white people on Africans in the days before the publishing of the book. This offers a different perspective of Africans to the world challenging the savage picture painted by white writers on Africans as people needing reformative actions by the settlers (Whittaker, 2007). They are portrayed as people with great respect for their culture and their leaders but lack the strong structure required for a culture to remain strong in the face of intrusion, for example, as was experienced during the time of the white settlers.

Works cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1994. Print.

Booker, M. Keith. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe [Critical Insights]. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2011. Print.

Whittaker, David. “Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart” pp 59. New York: NY. 2007. Print.


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