Things Fall Apart is about a culture on the verge of dramatic change. We see how the prospect of change affects individuals within that culture.
Efulefu (C) level: 300 words and a quote from the novel
Unoka level (B): 400 words and two quotes from the novel
Okonkwo level (A): 500 words and two quotes from the novel
Chukwu level: (A+): 750 words and at least two quotes from the novel as well as quotes and references from other works.
A Culture On the Verge of Change
- What forces are at play?
- What connections can you make to things happening now?
- What role do tradition, ritual, and ceremony play in maintaining a culture and what role do they play during a time of change?
- What effect does status play in cultural change?
- How does push and pull influence people.
- In what ways does the idea of progress shape the novel?
- How does the idea of a single story play into the idea of progress?
- How does tradition perpetuate and thrive from one generation to the next?
If none of these questions work, here are some questions I stole from a great school and teacher in Pleasanton, California. If you are the teacher who wrote these questions, you are getting the titles of our village. May Chukwu bless your people and your traditions - in both your motherland and fatherland. I tried to find you to ask permission and thank you, but I couldn't.
1. How does the father-son relationship throughout three generations shape the personalities of Okonkwo, and Nwoye? Comment on their characteristics and the role their father plays in making them who they are.
- "The story of Okonkwo is in a way the story of our culture; he pays a price because he places too much emphasis on strength and manliness." Discuss this quote as it applies to both the novel and our own modern American culture.
- One of the themes of Achebe's novel is the striving after titles, trophies, and status in general. Write an essay commenting on the presence and importance of status symbols in Okonkwo's world and today's world. Explain their appeal and the ways in which searching for status symbols is a negative force in life.
- Discuss the ways in which the District Commissioner symbolizes intolerance and disrespect for cultures he considers inferior.
- Okonkwo suffers because he does not understand himself. Do his experiences help lead him to self-awareness or not, and why?
- "[Okonkwo's] whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness." Explain how fear, in an ironic way, is the catalyst for destruction and failure in the novel?
- Comment on how Achebe, through this novel, counters the Imperialist stereotypes on Africa as an uncivilized continent. What aspects of Ibo culture contradict this commonly held stereotype? Perhaps use the District Commissioner’s comments to help convey the imperialist view.