Things Fall Apart, who is responsible for the division and downfall of Umoufia?

Essay by nini4732College, Undergraduate April 2003

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In the historical novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe we gain knowledge of the African societies as they once were. Achebe shows us what happened to this particular (fictional) community in the 19th century, as the downfall of their village occurred.

The book begins by introducing us to the main character, Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a strong character who is a leader in his town of Umuofia. This man has gone through many challenges in his life. It was hard for him growing up with his father Unoka who was "lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking of tomorrow" (Things Fall Apart, page 4). His father was known in the village as being a failure, but Okonkwo wanted to change his family's status. He worked hard to overcome his past and never followed in his father's footsteps. He rose from great poverty and misfortune to be one of the lords of his clan.

Okonkwo's clan is very religious and has very strong beliefs and customs. In this clan the men have power over their women. They have more than one wife, and their wives are bought with a bride price and defined by their husband. Okonkwo had three wives, all of which lived in separate huts with their children. Although the children lived with their mothers, they still belonged to the father. Sometimes Okonkwo was violent towards his family, beating them and even threatening to kill them. This was not prohibited, however he did get in trouble for beating his youngest wife Ojiugo because it was during their "Week of Peace", and he must make sacrifices to repent from his mistakes.

The people of the clan have many folk tales and proverb's, such as this one spoken by Okonkwo's uncle Uchendu: "There is no story...