Things Fall Apart

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

— W B Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart shows life in an African village Umuofia, of Ibo society, right before and after the Foreigners, or the so called white people, came there. The novel in the beginning moves very beautifully showing the African culture, their traditions intertwined with age old superstitions, their beliefs in supernatural coupled with their rigorous code of law, their notions of pride and prestige, their local dialect which also at times portrays their sense of things. Fascinating small mythical tales, legends and anecdotes are narrated time and again throughout the novel, whereby the perspective and elevation of things in African society are shown remarkably. Things start to fall apart when white people arrive there. The demise of faith as well as bond between the people starts taking place as differences between statues and class are exploited by the white men.

The real beauty of Things Fall Apart is that, its more than African culture and Colonization, as while revolving around Okonkwo, a leader and a local wrestling champ, the story takes the shape of a tragedy. Okonkwo though a great warrior and powerful leader has, had his life dominated by the fear of failure and weakness and his whole life he strove to throw it out. The seeds of this struggle are sown at his childhood as he is taunted and ridiculed all around for the fact that his father had no title and was a week person. He father was called Agbala, representing the lowest rank in the society and incidentally in the local dialect Agbala also meant women. So his life was a struggle to be at the highest place in the society, for which he always looked on track. But things on account of his personal chi (God, or rather luck) mingled with African culture and tradition things changed bad and then got worsened as the White men arrived, whereby ending on a note of tragedy.

Achebe writes with great precision and economy, illuminating African cultural values and its clashes with colonial influences. This theme almost underlines all his works. He was awarded Man booker prize in 2007 and is considered to be worthy of a Nobel prize.