Things Fall Apart Study Guide

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Okonkwo- An influential clan leader in Umuofia. Since early childhood, Okonkwo’s embarrassment about his lazy, squandering, and effeminate father, Unoka, has driven him to succeed. Okonkwo’s hard work and prowess in war have earned him a position of high status in his clan, and he attains wealth sufficient to support three wives and their children. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw is that he is terrified of looking weak like his father. As a result, he behaves rashly, bringing a great deal of trouble and sorrow upon himself and his family.

Obierka- Okonkwo’s close friend, whose daughter’s wedding provides cause for festivity early in the novel. Obierika looks out for his friend, selling Okonkwo’s yams to ensure that Okonkwo won’t suffer financial ruin while in exile and comforting Okonkwo when he is depressed. Like Nwoye, Obierika questions some of the tribe’s traditional strictures.

Ekwefi- Okonkwo’s second wife, once the village beauty. Ekwefi ran away from her first husband to live with Okonkwo. Ezinma is her only surviving child, her other nine having died in infancy, and Ekwefi constantly fears that she will lose Ezinma as well. Ekwefi is good friends with Chielo, the priestess of the goddess Agbala.

Nwoye- Okonkwo’s oldest son, whom he thinks is weak and lazy, Okonkwo continually beats him, hoping to correct the faults in him, influenced by Ikemefuna, as the book goes on he exhibits more masculine behavior which pleases Okonkwo, eventually converts to Christianity because he doubts about some of the laws and rules of his tribe, Okonkwo sees this act as effeminate, Okonkwo thinks that Nwoye is afflicted with the same weaknesses that his father Unoka possessed in abundance

Ikemefuna- A boy given to Okonkwo by a neighboring village. Ikemefuna lives in the hut of Okonkwo’s first wife and quickly becomes popular with Okonkwo’s children. He develops an especially close relationship with Nwoye, Okonkwo’s oldest son, who looks up to him. Okonkwo too becomes very fond of Ikemefuna, who calls him “father” and is a perfect clansman, but Okonkwo does not demonstrate his affection because he fears that doing so would make him look weak.

Okoye- Unoka borrows money from him in the beginning of the book and he wanted to get married so he wanted the money back but wouldn’t get it back

Unoka- Okonkwo’s father, of whom Okonkwo has been ashamed since childhood. By the standards of the clan, Unoka was a coward and a spendthrift. He never took a title in his life, he borrowed money from his clansmen, and he rarely repaid his debts. He never became a warrior because he feared the sight of blood. Moreover, he died of an abominable illness. On the positive side, Unoka appears to have been a talented musician and gentle, if idle. He may well have been a dreamer, ill-suited to the chauvinistic culture into which he was born. The novel opens ten years after his death.-

Uchendu- The younger brother of Okonkwo’s mother. Uchendu receives Okonkwo and his family warmly when they travel to Mbanta, and he advises Okonkwo to be grateful for the comfort that his motherland offers him lest he anger the dead—especially his mother, who is buried there. Uchendu himself has suffered—all but one of his six wives are dead and he has buried twenty-two children. He is a peaceful, compromising man and functions as a foil (a character whose emotions or actions highlight, by means of contrast, the emotions or actions of another character) to Okonkwo, who acts impetuously and without thinking.

Ezeugo- The oldest man in the village and one of the most important clan elders and leaders. Ogbuefi Ezeugo was a great warrior in his youth and now delivers messages from the Oracle.

Ezinma- The only child of Okonkwo’s second wife, Ekwefi. As the only one of Ekwefi’s ten children to survive past infancy, Ezinma is the center of her mother’s world. Their relationship is atypical—Ezinma calls Ekwefi by her name and is treated by her as an equal. Ezinma is also...
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