Things Fall Apart – Discussion Questions

Describe Okonkwo’s position and personality(Chapter 1) Popular and famousAll 9 villages knew of his accomplishmentsWrestled and defeated “The Cat”Physically tall and strong with distinct featuresShort temper, impatient with unsuccessful men like his dad3 wives and 8 childrenYams, cowries (money), goats
Describe Okonkwo’s father, Unoka(Chapter 1) Lazy and impatientKnown for borrowing money from others and not paying it backPoor, family was hungryKnown to be happiest while drinking or playing his fluteGood man to others but was very troubled
Summarize the conflict with Mbaino and explain how it is resolved(Chapter 2) Wife/woman of Umiofia was killed at the marketVirgin girl and boy from Mbaino was sent to resolve the problemVirgin girl given to the man who lost his wifeBoy (Ikemefuna) went to live with Okonkwo
Describe how Okonkwo runs his household and explain his reasons for acting this way(Chapter 2) Strict and cruelFears laziness and failureBased on his feelings towards his fatherHard worker and expects the same from his family
Identify Agbala and why Unoka consulted Agbala. What was the result?(Chapter 3) Agbala is the oracle of the hills and cavesUnoka asked why his harvest was terriblePriestess speaks for the oraclePriestess claimed he did not work hard enoughShe is disgusted by him
What does Okonkwo learn about himself after his crops fail?(Chapter 3) Strong willed and fierce because he stuck with his cropsPerseveredOthers committed suicide
What does Okonkwo’s criticism of Osugo show about his character?(Chapter 4) Okonkwo calls Osugo a woman (very insulting)Okonkwo is arrogant toward those who are weakLittle patience for those who show lack of ambitionOther men see it as lacking humanityDoesn’t show proper courtesy
Why do Okonkwo’s enemies criticize him? Is their criticism justified?(Chapter 4) His good fortune had gone to his headHe beat his wife after not being fedGod complexTragic hero/tragic flaw – hubris
Explain the importance of the feast of the New Yam?(Chapter 5) Their New Year at yam harvestThrow out old yamsMake an offering before the feastWrestling matches between villages
How does the narrator feel about violence towards his second wife?(Chapter 5) Narrator doesn’t condemn violenceNot happy but an understanding given his characterNarrator says she isn’t guilty of what she’s accused ofOkonkwo shoots at her but misses
What do you think Okonkwo’s second wife Ekewifi meant by saying her daughter Ezima “will stay”?(Chapter 6) Lived past 6 when most dieNow 10″Will stay” means her daughter will survive to adulthood
Describe Ikemefuna’s position in the family after three years in Okonkwo’s household. What warning does Ogbuefi Ezeudu give Okonkwo about Ikemefuna? What is Okonkwo’s response?(Chapter 7) Has become a son to Okonkwo Okonkwo thinks he is better than his own son, NwoyeOkonkwo warned to distance himself from IkemefunaWent against warning of not going with them to kill himDidn’t want to be seen as weak so he killed Ikemefuna
How does Okonkwo react to Ikemefuna’s death?(Chapter 8) He doesn’t sleep for 2 daysDoesn’t eatTalks to one of his friends and gets over itFirst sign of Okonkwo showing remorse, humanity
Why does Okonkwo doubt Oguefi Ndulua’s strength? Is his opinion justified?(Chapter 8) He respected his first wife and cares about her opinionOguefi consulted his first wife while he was aliveOkonkwo calls him weakNot justified, Oguefi was powerful when he was young
Why is Ezima so special to Ekewifi?(Chapter 9) Almost all of Ekewifi’s past 10 children have diedEzima is the only one to have live past 6Very close
Describe what Okonkwo’s reaction to Ezima’s illness is(Chapter 9) He shows humanityOkonkwo favors EzimaHe helps make her medicine He wanted her to be a boy because she is hard working
Who are the egwugwu and how did they settle the wife-beating case? What does it show about the justice system?(Chapter 10) Spirits of the ancestorsReal people that wear masks and represent the 9 villagesSettle case by telling man to bring wine to her house and begFavors men over womenTake away Uzowulu manhood because of cowardly crimeDon’t judge right or wrong but resolve issues
Why do you think Achebe includes the story of the Tortoise?(Chapter 11) Clan members should not be greedyOkonkwo is greedy for power
How has Okonkwo tried to protect Ezinma? What does this show about his character?(Chapter 12) Priestess takes EzinmaOkonkwo waits and worriesOkonkwo follows them to make sure they are safeShows Okonkwo cares for Ezinma
Describe the uri and explain what the uri represents of Igbo community?(Chapter 12) Uri is a celebration to mark payment for the brideFamily is presentHuge celebration for the whole community
Why must Okonkwo leave his clan?(Chapter 13) He was exiledHe was at a funeral celebration for EzeuduAccidentally shot and killed Ezeudu’s 16 year old sonA “woman’s crime” – not on purpose
What does this use of punishment signify as important to the clan?(Chapter 13) Punishment prevents further crimesImportant to goddessOne person’s crime affects the whole village
How does Okonkwo react to his exile?(Chapter 14) Okonkwo was sad and wearyLost pleasure in planting like he used toFelt he lost controlFinds himself in a half-sleepDepressed
How does Uchendu encourage Okonkwo to move forward? How would you describe Uchendu’s influence?(Chapter 14) Uchendu’s gathers everyoneEncourages Okonkwo by comparing him to other menOthers banished for life,
What news does Obierika bring about Abame?(Chapter 15) Abame (village) was destroyed White man came to Abame on an iron horse (bike)Oracle said he was bad so they killed himMore white men came and destroyed village
What does Uchendu mean when he says, “There is no story that is not true”?(Chapter 15) Every story has a basis that communicates the truthThere are tales of white men that are true
Describe the arrival of the missionaries in Mbanta and the concerns they raise in the village. Why is Nwoye attracted to the missionaries?(Chapter 16) Missionaries convert lower status peopleLeaders of village were sadMissionaries include 1 white man and 5 black menMissionaries are converting villagers to ChristianityLeaders say missionaries are crazy
What happens after the church is built in the Evil Forest? How does Okonkwo react to Nwoye’s conversion?(Chapter 17) Missionaries accepted the landVillage people predicted terrible things would happenNothing bad happened to the missionariesOkonkwo choked Nwoye as a punishment for convertingOkonkwo compared Nwoye to his dad, Unoka
How does the church handle the issues of the outcasts?(Chapter 18) Outcasts = osuOutcasts = albinos, anyone with a “defect” or differenceWhen osu joined those who had converted protestedThose who protested converted backOutcasts had long hairChurch had the outcasts shave their head
Describe the logic behind the action taken by the clan over the killing of the sacred python?(Chapter 18) Accidentally killed the python they would bring gods giftsA church member killed the pythonThey don’t know if it was accidentalVillagers were outragedVillagers didn’t want to do anything, let the gods handle itOkonkwo didn’t like that, he wanted a harder punishmentThey agreed to not allow the church to use anything of theirs
Summarize Okonkwo’s regret during his exile. What does it say about his beliefs?(Chapter 19) He believes how old have prospered more in UmuofiaHe would have gained more powerOkonkwo feels Umiofia village matches him (warlike, aggressive)He regrets he wasn’t there to drive out the missionaries
Why does Okonkwo’s kinsman feel the Christians have come to Mbanta?(Chapter 19) Younger generation doesn’t understand the strength of kinshipThe family and the clan doesn’tMbanta doesn’t know how to speak with one voice (agree)
Describe Okonkwo’s plans to rebuild his prestige when he returns to Umuofia.(Chapter 20) Plans to build “bigger and better” compound Wants to marry two more wivesWants his daughters to marry into prestige Wants ozo for his sons (honor/title)
Describe the changed in Umuofia and Okonkwo’s response to said changes.(Chapter 20) Whites have built a government (church, courthouse and jail)Missionaries have convinced villages in authorityOthers are starting to reject gods and ancestors and join churchPeople are very coward like un-willing to fight backOkonkwo wants to fight backObierka thinks that the converts would be targetedOkonkwo cannot believe how many people have turned “women like”
What are positive effects of the new government?(Chapter 21) Brought more law and orderMore money (economy) due to palm oilMore education (schools)
Compare Okonkwo’s actual return to what he planned.(Chapter 21) Okonkwo expected to be noticed and focused onOthers focuses on the new changes (religion, government)They payed more attention to his beautiful daughters
Contrast Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown in their ways of working with the villagers. What approach provides more success?(Chapter 22) Mr. Brown was seen as more errant and unorthodox (nicer)Mr. Smith was seen as more strict and intolerantMr. Smith demanded bible obedienceSome traditional villagers saw Mr. Smith as more successful
What offense does Enoch commit against the egwugwu? What was the egwugwu’s response?(Chapter 22) Enoch unmasked one of the egwugwu during an annual ceremony Equated to an ancestral killingThe egwugwu burned down the churchMr. Smith tried to stop themVillagers didn’t kill Mr. Smith
Why are Okonkwo’s spirits high at the beginning of this chapter?What does this confirm about his character?(Chapter 23) People in the clan are listening to himHe felt he deserved a leadership roleHis spirits are lifted by his clan burning the churchThe clan took actionConfirms he is warlike, controlling, aggressive
How does the District Commissioner trick the leaders of Umuofia?(Chapter 23) The DC asks to meet the leaders of UmuofiaBring machetes but set them down to show respect and peaceDC wanted to meet about the church burning as friendsKinsman are handcuffed and tricked into being arrested
What unprecedented action does Okika propose?(Chapter 24) Okika wanted to fight the strangers (white men and converts)Understands this would mean killing their own clansmen (converts)Fathers may not have taken action but circumstances have changed
What happens when the court messengers arrive?(Chapter 24) Okonkwo stood his ground when facing control of white menBeheaded messenger with machetesClan did not support Okonkwo’s actionWiped the blood off the machete b/c he isn’t honored for his action
What is Okonkwo’s last action? Why do you think he did it?(Chapter 25) Okonkwo’s last action was hanging himselfFelt the loss of honor when his kinsmen didn’t support him in warOkonkwo wanted to be strong and manlyDied by suicide which is considered weak
Why do you think the novel ends with the District Commissioner’s thoughts about his book?(Chapter 25) Showed how the white men perceived the natives and their customsAchebe wrote to speak for the people in Africa against EuropeansShows Europeans not writing good things about Africa

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