Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Things Fall Apart

Plot Summary Part 4

What would they have done for a beach blanket?

Schools were created and then a white government was formed to rule over the Africans.

One time a villager named Enoch who had become a Christian tore off the mask of a villager who was pretending to be inhabited by the ghost. This was seen as killing the ghost and the villagers became very angry with Enoch.  They burned his home down and then burned down the local church.

The white guy in charge, called the Commissioner, calls in the black rioters to have a talk with them. Six of the  black rioters come in to talk with them and the Commissioner says wait, I have twelve of my friends who would like to hear your story, and then the twelve friends come in and handcuff the rioters. What a tricky white man!

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The Commissioner says the six are now prisoners and that the village has to pay 250 seashells to get them released. In the meantime the prisoners are shaved bald, slapped in the head, and not allowed to urinate. I guess they had to pee in their pants, heh heh. The villagers pay the fine so the men are free to urinate once more.

Okonkwo kills a messenger from the church. Then Okonkwo hangs himself.

The end.

Wait, were you looking for some reason why Okonkwo killed himself? Some explanation that ended the book with an overall theme? Sorry, there's nothing.

Literary Criticism:

The characters in this book were very simplistic. Okonkwo is violent and loves African tradition. Unoka is lazy. The characters are all two dimensional cutouts. The other characters had even less personality.

Plotwise, I think the book was meant to show what life was (is?) like in rural Africa, but it didn't really have much of a cohesive storyline until the missionaries arrived. The ending was a complete mystery. Why did Okonkwo, a fierce defender of African tradition, kill himself when faced with a confrontation with the white man? He didn't seem like a quitter. There is no explanation. We are supposed to think, I guess, that he grew so frustrated with the white incursions into his society that he killed himself in frustration rather than see whitey take over. But that was so out of character for Okonkwo. He would have fought to the death rather than killed himself. The ending made zero sense.

The story could have been more interesting if it had had more coherent plot. Show a boy growing up and gaining stature in his village and becoming a tribal elder. Show him dealing with different problems in society. So many of the problems in this book revolved around rain, and whether it rained too much or too little for their yams. Not very interesting. The central storyline, about the missionaries changing African society, didn't come in until the last part of the story.

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