Troy Nickens
Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was born on
November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria
 Raised by Christian missionaries
 Received early education in Engilsh
 Grew up surrounded by both Igbo and English
 Studied History and theology at the University
of Ibadan
While in college he developed his interest in
indigenous Nigerian cultures
 Rejected his Christian name
 One of the founders of a Nigerian literary
movement of the 1950s
 Drew on oral traditions of indigenous tribes
 His novels were written in English, but he
incorporates Igbo vocabulary and narratives.
Novels have been concerned with the clash of
 His exposure to European customs and English
education allowed him to capture both
European and African perspectives on race,
religion, and culture.
 Composed his first novel, Things Fall Apart
(1959), while working for the Nigerian
broadcasting Corporation.
Has been Translated into at least 45 languages
 Sold 8 million copies worldwide
 Published as a response to novels that treat
Africa as a cultureless foil for Europe.
 Achebe sought to convey fuller understandings
of one African culture
Set in the 1890s
 Portrays the conflicts between Nigeria’s white
colonial government and traditions of
indigenous Igbo people
 Portrays complex social institutions and
traditions of the Igbo culture prior to European
Okonkwo- An influential clan leader in Umofia.
Since early childhood, his embarrassment
about his lazy father, Unoka, has driven him to
succeed. His hard work and talent in war have
earned him a position of high status. He is
terrified of looking weak like his father and
behaves rashly, bringing trouble and sorrow
upon himself and his family.
Nwoye- The oldest son of Okonkwo whom
Okonkwo believes is weak and lazy like Unoka.
He is constantly beaten by Okonkwo in hopes
of correcting the faults that Okonkwo sees in
him. He is later influenced by Ikemefuna and
begins to show more masculine behavior. He
eventually converts to Christianity which
displeases Okonkwo.
Ikemefuna- A boy given to Okonkwo by a
neighboring village. He developes a close
relationship with Nwoye, becoming somewhat
of a big brother to him. Okonkwo becomes very
fond of Ikemefuna but does not demonstrate
his affection because of his fear of looking
Ezinma- The only child of Okonkwo’s second
wife, Ekwefi. She is the only one of Ekwifi’s
children to survive past infancy. She is the
center of Ekwifi’s world. She is favored by
Okonkwo because she understand him better
than any of his other children. Okonkwo wishes
that Ezinma were a boy because she would
have been a perfect son.
Mr. Brown- The first white missionary to travel to Umofia. He
institutes a policy of compromise and non-agression
between his people and the clan. He befriends prominent
clansmen and builds a school and hospital in Umofia. He
attempts to appeal respectfully to the tribe’s values.
Reverend James Smith-The missionary who replaces Mr.
Brown. He is uncompromising and strict. He demands that
his converts reject all of their indigenous beliefs. His
behavior epitiomizes the problems of colonialism.
The District Comissioner- An authority figure in the colonial
government in Nigeria. He is the Prototypical racist
colonialist. He thinks he understands everything about the
indigeionous African customs and has no respect for them.
In the beginning of the novel, Okonkwo is a
wealthy and respected warrior of the Umofia clan.
Everything that Okonkwo does is governed by his
hatred of his lazy father, Unoka.
 Okonkwo constantly worries that his son, Nwoye,
will end up a failure like Unoka.
 In a settlement with a neigboring tribe, Umofia is
given a virgin and a 15-year-old boy, Ikemefuna,
and Okonkwo finds an ideal son in him.
During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo severely
beats his youngest wife, Ojiugo, because he
believes that she is neglecting him. He looses
some respect within his community.
 Okonkwo is told by a village elder that the Oracle
has said that Ikemefuna must be killed. The
villiage elder tell Okonkwo that he should not take
part in Ikemefuna’s execution. When the execution
begins, Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo for help, but
Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna so he doesn’t look weak
infront of his tribesmen.
Okonkwo sinks into a deep Depression. He is
unable to eat or sleep. Ezinma falls ill, but recovers
after Okonkwo gathers ingredients for her
 The death of Ogbuefi Ezedu, the village elder that
warned Okonkwo of taking part in the execution, is
announced. Okonkwo feels guilty because he did
not heed Ogbuefi’s warning.
 At his funeral, the men beat drums and fire guns.
Unfortunately, Okonkwo’s gun explodes and killes
Ogbuefi’s 16-year-old son.
Okonkwo and his family are put into exile for seven
years to atone for the death of Ogbuefi’s son. He
takes his family to his mothers natal village,
Mbanta. The men in the village burn Okonkwo’s
buildings and kill his animals to cleanse the village
of his sin.
 During the second year of his exile, Okonkwo
recieves several bags of cowries and news that a
neighboring village has been destroyed by the
white man.
The peaceful missionary, Mr. Brown falls ill and is
replaced by the intolerant Reverend James Smith.
One convert, Enoch, unmasks an egwugwu during
a ceremony to honer the earth deity. The next day,
the egwugwu burn Enoch’s compound and the
church down.
 The District Commissioner is displeased with the
burning of the church and throws the leaders of
Umofia in jail, where they suffer physical and
verbal abuse.
After the leaders are released, the clansmen hold a meeting,
when five court messengers order them to desist. Okonkwo
kills the court messengers leader in order to start an
uprising. However, the clansmen let the other messengers
escape. Okonkwo realizes that his tribe is not willing to go to
When the District Commissioner arrives at Okonkwo’s
compound he find that he has hanged himself. The
clansmen explain that suicide is a grave sin and that none of
the clansmen can touch his body.
The commissioner believes that the story of Okonkwo’s
rebellion and death would make for an interesting paragraph
or two in the book that he is writing: The Pacification of the
Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.
The struggle between change and tradition
 Nwoye’s conversion to Christianity against his
fathers will
 Invasion of Christian missionaries in Nigeria
 Interpritations of Masculinity
 Okonkwo’s hatred of laziness because of his
 Nwoye’s rebellion towards his fathers wishes
 Okonkwo’s fondness of Ikemefuna and Ezinma

Things Fall Apart - ePortfolio