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Things Fall Apart
Socratic Seminar Questions
Instructions: On a separate sheet of paper, respond fully to one of following questions in
preparation for our Socratic Seminar next class in a formal paragraph. Be sure that you use
quotations/textual references your response. Then, construct one of your own questions about the
novel that will help facilitate discussion.
1. Okonkwo’s entire life is devoted not to becoming his father. Does he achieve this goal?
Why/why not?
2. How do you interpret the ending?
3. What is the most important theme being taught in this novel? Why and how?
4. How does this novel apply to us? How does it apply to our world? Explain.
5. Recall the following characteristics of a tragic hero:
a. A serious drama featuring a main character, often of noble birth, who strives to
achieve something and is ultimately defeated.
b. Defeat may be caused by forces beyond his/her control.
c. Main character’s downfall is due to an inborn character flaw or weakness (tragic
d. Tragic hero gains new self­knowledge or wisdom.
In what ways and to what degree does Okonkwo fit this description?
6. How would you judge the colonialists in this novel? Are they all bad, all good, or some
of both? Explain your opinion.
7. Think about the contrasts/similarities between the definitions of masculinity and
femininity in the novel. How are women portrayed in the novel? Is there any irony in
Okonkwo and the men’s views in relation to what is really happening in the village and in
their homes? How do some women challenge traditional belief about gender? How do
some men challenge this belief (and what are the consequences of those that do)? Do we
see any of these same beliefs in our society? If so, what ways are our perceptions of
gender harmful?
8. Is change destructive? Explore how change reshapes the Ibo culture and community. Is this a
good or a bad thing? Why? How does Nwoye figure into the change? How does his character
conflict with Okonkwo, and why might Achebe be offering this contrast? Should change come
only from within, or is it only possible from an individual or group arriving from the outside?
What might Achebe be saying about the colonizing force that arrives in Umuofia?
9. Throughout the novel, drums, music, and the town crier’s voice punctuate the narrative at
key moments. When does silence occur and what does it mean? Is there more than one
type of silence? Can silence be characterized as a positive or negative occurrence? What
are the implications of the fact that Unoka takes his flute with him to the Evil Forest
when he dies?
10. Construct one of your own questions about the novel that will help facilitate discussion.