30 Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

Things Fall Apart



Things Fall Apart (1953) is the first novel by Chinua Achebe, one of the best-known writers from Africa, who helped to establish the African novel in English in the second half of the twentieth century. The novel, whose title comes from a phrase in W. B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” depicts the life before and after the arrival of the British missionaries and colonial government in traditional African villages. Written in response to the distorted images of Africa in much of British colonial literature, the novel sheds light on the intricate culture of traditional Nigerian society as well as the cultural dilemmas of modern Africa in transition. The novel reflects the cultural perspectives of Achebe, who grew up in the Igbo town of Ogidi, Nigeria, but who was also exposed to British colonial culture through his education. Although the novel is written in English, Achebe creates a unique style of “African English” by incorporating Igbo language and culture. This novel is now regarded as a classic in modern African literature, world literature, and postcolonial literature. It is also the first of Achebe’s trilogy that also includes No Longer at Ease (1960) and Arrow of God (1964).

Consider while reading:

  1. How does this novel portray the complexity of an indigenous community in Nigeria? Provide examples.
  2. How does this novel reveal the author’s bicultural perspectives?
  3. Which character seems to be balanced, and which character seems imbalanced, based on the character’s views and conduct?
  4. In what ways does this novel challenge the conventional views of “civilization”?
  5. Discuss the use of irony towards the end of the novel.

Written by Kyounghye Kwon


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Modern World Literature: Compact Edition Copyright © 2020 by Amy Jo Swing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book