Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

by

Karim Chandra

Chapter 1
Summary

Set when the new century was rolling over, Things Fall Apart concentrates on the hero of the book, Okonkwo, and on his late father, Unoka. Okonkwo is a highly revered leader of the Igbo ( in the past spelled Ibo) clan of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. Around twenty years back, Okonkwo brought honor to himself and earned respect to his clan when he wrestled and tossed to the ground Amalinze the Cat, a man who had not been vanquished for a long time. From that time, Okonkwo's popularity for being a wrestler has spread all through the nine villages of Umuofia. He is known to be quick to anger, particularly when faced with unsuccessful men like his father, who passed on ten years prior while hugely in debt.

In light of Unoka's lethargy and inefficiency, the clan had thought of him as a disappointment and fool; he was a persistent cause disgrace to Okonkwo. Despite the fact that he had a family to look after, Unoka as often as possible obtained cash and afterward wasted it on palm-wine and fun with his neighbors, along these lines ignoring his family who scarcely had enough to eat. The story is told about the day, years prior, when Unoka was visited by Okoye, a fruitful neighbor. After the courtesies and casual chitchat, Okoye asked Unoka for the two hundred cowries that Unoka had obtained two years before. Okoye needed the cash for a special function.

Unoka burst into giggling and indicated the wall on which he recorded his debt obligations. He disclosed to Okoye that customs expected him to reimburse his biggest debt obligations before he3 could pay back little ones like Okoye’s. Okoye left without his cash. Regardless of his dad's dishonorable conduct, Okonkwo is currently exceptionally regarded in Umuofia, which respects his accomplishment as opposed to his father's legacy. Still a young man in his thirties, Okonkwo has turned into an affluent agriculturist of yams — a consecrated harvest — and also supports three spouses. The yam is a huge pointer of riches and "masculinity." Furthermore, he is known for his amazing wrestling skills.

Analysis

In spite, the fact that it is not demonstrated in this part, the setting of Things Fall Apart is in the late 1800s and mid-1900s, just before the beginning of the British invasion of Nigeria. The novel creates a distinction between the African culture and the Western culture. In this section, Achebe demonstrate the following characteristics of Igbo culture:

  • Legends and traditions (the fight with a spirit of the wild by the founder of their village)
  • Symbols of honor (titles)
  • Indicators of wealth (yams, cowries)
  • Marriage customs (more than one wife)
  • The reckoning of time (markets, a week of four days)
  • Social rituals (kola nuts, alligator pepper, chalk, small talk, and proverbs)
  • Music, entertainment, food, and drink

The first chapter discusses Okonkwo's achievements that established his importance in the Igbo society. The features alone give the perception of Okonkwo's character and personality. Driving himself toward the achievement of his tribe and acknowledgment. Okonkwo is endeavoring to make up for the disgrace that was left by his late father, Unoka. Basically, Okonkwo shows characteristics of masculinity in Igbo society.

Having been educated and familiarized to the Western writing and its customary structures, Achebe structures Things Fall Apart in the heritage of a Greek tragedy, with the story based on Okonkwo, the tragic hero. Aristotle characterized tragic hero as a character who is unmatched and respectable, one who shows incredible strength and determination, however, is consumed due to a natural individual character weakness.

A notable social marker of Igbo society is presented in this chapter — a unique system that is characterized by acquisition of titles. All through the book, titles are points of reference by which individuals from Igbo society regularly compare themselves. These titles are not given by the people in power or the authorities, but rather they are obtained by the person who can pay for them. As a man amasses riches, he may gain extra acknowledgment and respect by "taking a title." He may likewise buy titles for male individuals from his family. To obtain the title, the purchase will pay huge sums of money as initiation fees to the individuals who already have the title.

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