Things Fall Apart

Topics: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Igbo people Pages: 2 (951 words) Published: August 5, 2014
Q: “A text is only valuable if the lessons arising from it are worthwhile” – discuss this statement with close reference to Things Fall Apart

An intrinsic aspect of reading any text is the process of evaluating its worth, both as it is read, and once it is finished; the response to a text is usually based, to a large extent, on whether it is seen as providing a valuable lesson. Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel about traditional life and colonisation in Nigeria, Things Fall Apart, has been widely regarded as a modern classic, and its success can be attributed to the fact that despite its specific context, the lessons it provides about tradition, change and identity are meaningful for any audience, within any context. By considering the way that Achebe develops poignant lessons about the impact of external forces on individual identities, we can see why this text is considered so valuable across national, cultural and historical boundaries.

Through the novel’s protagonist, the well-respected and successful warrior Okonkwo, Achebe depicts a strong identity, resistant to change. The reader encounters Okonkowo as someone whose “fame rested on solid personal achievement"; his sense of identity is based around his own accomplishments and the recognition of those by his society. Indeed, Okonkowo is motivated to act in an especially masculine way because his father had been ridiculed for his feminine behavior – his strength of character is tied to his fears of social persecution. However Achebe emphasizes that, in Igbo society, "a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father", and as such, the novel suggests that a strong identity is something that will be respected regardless of other social factors. This is further underlined by the appearance of missionaries, and the coming of Europeans to the novel’s central community. Here, although Okonkow is finally killed, he is elevated to a heroic register, because of his resistance to...
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