Theme of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Essay by drgnfly_0896High School, 12th grade April 2004

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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel set in Nigeria at the time that it was first being colonized by Europeans. The novel is centered on the character Okonkwo, who was at the beginning of the novel a great and respected man in his village, Umuofia. Okonkwo was a rich man with three wives and several children who held an important leader position in the village. The main focus of the book is on the changes that take place not only in Okonkwo's life, but also in the lives of his people. The dominant theme of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe concerns the harsh reality that nothing is constant but change, and how those affected by change must choose whether or not to adhere to it.

Change is demonstrated in the novel through Okonkwo's life, which undergoes a few changes throughout it. His first major change is one that he makes for himself.

Having grown up ashamed of his father, who was said to have had a bad chi, or personal god, Okonkwo sets out to make himself a respected man of the community. His father "tried Okonkwo's patience beyond words" (27), so Okonkwo set out to make a life for himself. The second major change in Okonkwo's life came when he was exiled from his village for seven years for the accidental killing of a man during a funeral ceremony. He was forced to take his three wives and their children and move away, so he returned to Mbanta, the village his mother was from, to seek refuge. The final and most drastic change in the novel begins when Okonkwo hears of white men coming into Nigeria and converting the people to a new religion, Christianity.

The arrival of Europeans and Christianity posed a new choice...