Essay on Things Fall Apart

“Things Fall Apart,” a novel by Chinua Achebe, is a profound narrative that explores the theme of change and its impact on individuals and societies. This essay will delve into the intricacies of the novel, examining the characters, themes, and the broader implications of change as depicted by Achebe. It aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding for essay writing competitions.

Things Fall Apart

Set in the late 19th century, in the Igbo village of Umuofia in Nigeria, “Things Fall Apart” narrates the story of Okonkwo, a respected warrior and leader. The novel unfolds against the backdrop of European colonialism and Christian missionary activities in Africa. Achebe masterfully portrays the clash between traditional Igbo society and the new values introduced by the Europeans.

Character Analysis

  1. Okonkwo: A complex protagonist, Okonkwo is driven by a fear of weakness and failure. His tragic flaw is his inflexibility and refusal to adapt to change, which ultimately leads to his downfall.
  2. Nwoye: Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye, symbolizes the younger generation, torn between traditional values and the new ways introduced by the missionaries.
  3. Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith: These characters represent the two facets of colonialism. Mr. Brown adopts a more understanding approach towards the Igbo culture, whereas Mr. Smith is rigid and uncompromising.

Themes Explored

  1. Clash of Cultures: A central theme of the novel is the conflict between the traditional Igbo society and the encroaching European influences, leading to a cultural dissonance.
  2. Change and Tradition: Achebe explores how change is inevitable and how rigid adherence to tradition can be detrimental.
  3. Colonialism and Its Effects: The novel critiques colonialism, highlighting how it disrupts the social, religious, and political fabric of indigenous societies.
  4. Masculinity and Power: Through Okonkwo’s character, Achebe examines the concepts of masculinity and power within Igbo society.

The Art of Storytelling

Achebe’s storytelling is steeped in the oral traditions of the Igbo people. His use of proverbs and folk tales within the narrative not only enriches the story but also serves as a conduit for cultural transmission.

Symbolism in the Novel

The Role of Women

In Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart,” the role of women is multifaceted and deeply rooted in the Igbo society portrayed in the book. Here are key aspects of the role of women in the novel:

The Tragic End

The novel’s tragic end, with Okonkwo’s suicide, signifies the ultimate collapse of the old order and the character’s inability to reconcile with the new realities.

Critical Analysis and Thinking

When critically analyzing “Things Fall Apart,” consider:

  1. Historical Context: Understanding the historical backdrop of colonial Africa is crucial for interpreting the novel’s themes.
  2. Achebe’s Perspective: Consider Achebe’s critique of colonial narratives and his attempt to provide an African perspective.
  3. Literary Devices: Analyze Achebe’s use of language, imagery, and symbolism to convey deeper meanings.

Contemporary Relevance

The novel’s exploration of change, identity, and cultural collision remains relevant today. It prompts reflection on current issues of globalization, cultural homogenization, and the preservation of cultural identity.


In conclusion, “Things Fall Apart” is a compelling narrative that provides profound insights into the human condition, the inevitability of change, and the complexities of cultural interactions. It is not just a story about the fall of a man or a culture; it is a universal tale of resilience, identity, and the enduring spirit of humanity. For students, analyzing this novel presents an opportunity to engage with complex themes and enhance their understanding of literature and history.

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