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Chapters Analysis Of Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

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  1. Okonkwo can be violent and very quick tempered, as shown by “He has a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough he would use his fists. ”(4) This quote shows us he is quick to anger and how he thinks that his fists can solve everything. Okonkwo is also hardworking. His father is depicted as lazy and careless which is the complete opposite of Okonkwo. It said in the book that Okonkwo came to hate everything his father loved, which included the flute. His father’s lazy and carelessness affected him by making him hard working and driven.
  2. I think that the proverb “ proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten” means that proverbs are very significant in Igbo culture. Palm oil is an important ingredient that is used for cooking, making palm-wine and fuel in this book. Proverbs are equally as important and among the Ibo “the art of conversation is regarded very highly”(7), the language of the Ibo people is very formal and regarded as an art form, it shows a sign of respect.

Chapter 2:

  1. The Igbo are afraid of night as it holds a “vague terror for those people, even the bravest among them”(9) The people fear evil spirits and dangerous animals, such as snakes. Instead of calling snakes by its name they call them “strings” because they believe that they can hear you when you call it by its name.
  2. The cause of the conflict with Mbaino is that some men of Mbaino had murdered a woman from Umuofia when she was at a Mbino marketplace. That woman was the wife of Ogbuefi Udo. They take Ikemefuna so they can sacrifice him instead of starting a war between the two clans.
  3. Okonkwo doesn’t like his son because he had “incipient laziness”(13) and reminded him of his father, whom he hates.
  4. Being raised by a community can make you more open-minded because you have all these perspectives and opinions from the people around you. Although being raised like this can also cause you to have less freedom because everyone is constantly watching out for you.

Chapter 3:

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  1. In this culture, women are either housewives or in a position of great power, such as the priestess, there is no in between.
  2. When drinking palm-wine the eldest of the group drinks first, and then everyone else drinks. After, the eldest calls for his wives and the first wife has to drink first. They take a knee when they sip, and when they are done drinking they go away.
  3. Sharecropping is when someone, usually of higher rank, share seeds for a person’s crop. They divide the crops depending on how many people helped with the crops.
  4. Women usually were only allowed to grow cocoyams, beans and cassavas. The men were the ones who grew yams, as they were considered the “king of crops”. (23)5. Okonkwo remained positive and patient throughout the drought, even though he couldn’t grow any yams. He did not expect to grow a thousand yams for the first time, and knew he would eventually grow a lot of crops.

Chapter 4:

  1. Okonkwo is very hardworking and dedicated. He had nothing, and was in poverty from the moment he was born. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he decided that he was going to make something of himself. He is also, however violent and shortempered and often beats his wife and children.
  2. This proverb means that your life is in your hands, and that only you can decide who you want to be. If you want to do something, and you are dedicated to it, nothing can stop you.
  3. Their relationship is very strained as Nwoye reminds Okonkwo of his father, because they are both lazy. He often beats him and reprimands him.
  4. Okonkwo beats his wife during the week of peace, something that is not allowed. It tells me that the Ibo are very religious people, and highly respect their Gods and ancestors.
  5. The customs have changed because back then, if you disrupted the peace they would get “dragged through the ground through the village until he died. ”(31) They eventually stopped the custom because it meant “spoiling the peace it was meant to preserve. ”(31) In some clans it is an “abomination to die during the week of peace. ”(31)
  6. The village rain-maker can not stop the rain nor start it because it would be dangerous “to his own health”(34) and trying to change the weather extremely would be “far too great for the human frame”(34).

Chapter 5:

  1. Although Okonkwo doesn’t hate feasts, he doesn’t particularly like them either. He feels “uncomfortable sitting around for days”(17) and would much rather be “working on his farm. ”(17)2. Ekwefi used to be the village beauty many years ago, and fell in love with Okonkwo after he threw The Cat in a wrestling match. She couldn’t marry him then because he was too poor to pay her bride price. Ekwefi loves wrestling matches and can be very bold, like when she got beat and told Okonkwo about his guns “that never shot”(39).

Chapter 6:

  1. In my opinion, I think that it is a very sad practice because the mothers can not properly love their child in fear of it being an ogbanje. They can only be sure it is not an evil spirit once it lives past a certain age and even then they fear it is an ogbanje. To me, it must be really hard seeing so many of your children die over and over again.
  2. Chielo is the priestess of Agbala and the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. She is friends with Ekwefi and is very fond of her daughter, Ezinma. She affectionately calls Ezinma “my daughter. In her ordinary life, she is a widow and has two children. People who see Chielo in her daily life can barely believe that she is the same person who prophesize things when the “spirit of the Agbala was upon her”(49).

Chapter 7:

  1. Nwoye now acts like a man because he now does “masculine’ tasks like splitting wood and pounding food. When he receives a message through his younger siblings he “grumbles about women and their troubles. ”(52)
  2. Okonkwo associates being violent with being masculine. Nwoye knows it’s “right” but prefers to listen to his mother’s stories of the “tortoise and his wily ways”(53). To please his father Nwoye acts like he no longer enjoys those types of stories, and listens to his father’s stories of war and bloodshed instead.
  3. The people are very excited because locusts have not come to Umuofia for a long time and only the elders remember them. When they arrive, they begin collecting them and eating them as they are a rare delicacy.
  4. Okonkwo is asked not to take part because he had grown attached to Ikemefuna and thinks of him as a son. Ogbuefi Ezeudu tells him that because Ikemefuna calls him father, he wants Okonkwo to have “nothing to do with it”(57). I think they chose to kill Ikemefuna because that was the original plan. He was taken from from his clan because some people from Mbaino killed a girl. They are killing him so there is no war. I feel like Achebe doesn’t translate the song because it would lose its meaning and sincerity. Okonkwo acts that way because he has twisted ideas of what a man is. He thinks that being weak is not “masculine” and kills Ikemefuna instead of trying to save him.

Chapter 8:

  1. Okonkwo admires Ekwefi but wishes she was born a boy, as he thinks that she has the characteristics of a man. He thinks to himself “she should’ve been a boy. ”(64)
  2. The custom of trying to convince the parents with money or presents makes it seem as if women are a piece of meat instead of their own person. I feel like it makes the women feel like they don’t have self worth and that they don’t have the right to choose what they or who they want. I think that women are thought to be marriageable at a young age because they are seen as “developed”, and are able to reproduce.
  3. White men are introduced into the story by making fun of a man that has leprosy. Maybe they think that white men don’t have any toes because maybe they know that they cover their feet with shoes. The men make the white man seem like weird, alien like creatures.

Chapter 9:

  1. Ekwefi really loves her daughter Ezinma because she is the only child of hers she has given birth to that has survived after a certain age. She has had several children but none of them lived as long as Ezinma has. Ekwefi does not think of Ezinma as her daughter, instead their relationship is a “companionship of equals”(77). Throwing away children is one of the negative aspects of the Igbo culture.
  2. 2 Achebe does not validate nor disvalidate the belief of ogbanje. The only thing he does is give details on what is done and does not put his personal opinion in.

Chapter 10:

  1. The women of the clan seem to have a lot of respect for the egwugwu ceremony. The egwugwu are terrifying to the women, even though they are just men wearing costumes, they seem to be more than men once they don the costumes. The purpose of the ceremony is to maintain a level of fear and respect to their Gods in the Ibo society. Controversial topics are usually resolved by using the ceremony because many of the people in the clan believe that it is the only way to properly solve an argument. Evil forest refutes Usowulu’s argument by asking him “what kind of lover sleeps with a pregnant woman?”(91). Having families involved in our marriage allows a lot of women to always have people to turn to if they are not being treated very well, but at the same time a lot of involvement in their lives can negatively affect a relationship.

Chapter 11:

  1. The moral of the fable of the tortoise is to stop people from becoming selfish. That the selfish acts you commit will eventually catch up to you. The fable tells you to not trick others for your own gain because in the end you will be the only one who truly suffers. Generosity and selflessness are all a big part of this tale. The incident with the priestess shows us how much respect the people have to their Gods. The Ibo people greatly value tradition and remain very true to it. Their Gods are whole-heartedly followed with no questions asked.

Chapter 12:

  1. The bride and groom’s families compliment each other and the grooms side of the family are expected to give gifts to the bride’s side. The father of the bride’s brother says “let there be friendship between their family and ours”(117). This shows us the bond between the in-laws and how strong it can be.

Chapter 13:

  1. Okonkwo accidentally killed someone at a funeral. The person happened to be the dead man’s son. This incident is so serious because the man whose funeral it was, was a deeply respected person and was the oldest man in the village. It is a crime against the earth goddess to ‘Kill a clansman”(124) and, the punishment for that was exilement.

Chapter 14:

  1. Okonkwo is like a fish out of water because he was taken from his element, which is his village. He does not have anything that makes him great anymore, he left that in his home. Like a fish out of water, Okonkwo feels like he can not survive the next seven years.
  2. His lack of understanding makes it seem as if he is a child. A child who still has much to learn about the world around him.

Chapter 15:

  1. What happened in Abame perfectly sums up the experience of colonization because it is exactly was colonization is. The colonizers first come into the land. They try to appear peaceful and attempt to persuade the villagers by acting kindly to obtain whatever it is that they want. If it does not work out for them, that’s when they would start using force if necessary.
  2. Okonkwo had heard of many stories of the white men before. For example, he had heard that the white men had made the “powerful guns and the strong drinks. ”(141) Okonkwo also heard a story of a village being wiped out by the “white men and their followers. ”(139)

Chapter 16:

  1. Nwoye chose to become a Christian because the beliefs of the religion greatly aligned with his personal beliefs. He doesn’t like the idea of sacrificing people, such as when Ikemefuna was killed. When Ikemefuna was killed Nwoye felt something had “ given way inside him. “(62) And I believe that’s when he started resenting some aspects of his religion. Christianity prohibited sacrifices so he converted.
  2. The missionary tells the Igbo people that he will “bring many iron horses”(145) and that some of the people will “ride the iron horses themselves”(145). This gains the interest of many of the Igbo people. What also gains their interest, and elicits a positive response is when the missionary tells them that the white men will “live among them. ”
  3. Nwoye’s personal beliefs about religion reflects the beliefs of Christianity, at least that’s what I believe. It is why it appealed to him, he found a religion he could wholeheartedly follow.

Chapter 17:

  1. The Igbo gave them them a plot of land in the “evil forest. ” Their plan was to get rid of the men with the “sinister forces and powerful darkness”(148) that lived there. The white men however, were grateful and thought that they were just being kind.
  2. The Evil Forest was supposed to be the Igbos way of getting rid of them. They thought that they would be “dead within four days”(149) and happily gave them the land. Once four days passed and the Christians didn’t die the people started to be convinced by the missionaries, and some converted.
  3. The only thing that fire leaves in its wake are ashes, and the ashes are described as “impotent” (153) meaning they are useless. In the metaphor, Okonkwo’s passion and ruthlessness is the living fire, and what has become of his life is the unimportant ash. I think this metaphor is saying that sometimes your passion and intensity can leave you feeling cold and nothing.

Chapter 18:

  1. I personally think they weren’t introduced because they were not necessary. It was only until Achebe introduced the missionaries to us that they were important, because they accepted everybody, even the outcasts.

Chapter 19:

  1. One of Okonkwo’s oldest family member fears that because of Christianity, men can now choose to abandon their family and everyone they hold dear and lose their “fathers and his brothers. ”(167) He believes they can curse the “gods of his fathers and ancestors”(167). Because of Christianity, he fears for the members of the clan.

Chapter 20:

  1. The British handles conflict and crime in another way, that is much different than the Igbo way. They have prisons while in the Igbo society, if you perform a crime, you get banished from your clan. They also believe in one God, while the Igbo worship multiple Gods and deities.

Chapter 21:

  1. They were happy, and welcomed the British because they had built a trading store. Things like palm-oil and kernels soon became greatly valued, and in turn it much “money flowed into Umuofia”(178). The British brought wealth, so some of the people didn’t hate them like Okonkwo did. They decided to let them stay because they didn’t think they were that bad.

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