Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 25

The District Commissioner storms Okonkwo’s compound with a troop of soldiers and the court messengers. He orders to see Okonkwo, however, Obierika discloses to him he isn't there. After the District Commissioner issues threats to the men, Obierika agrees to reveal to them where Okonkwo is and requests the group's assistance. 

Obierika takes the District Commissioner to the tree where Okonkwo has hanged himself and requests that the men bring the body down. Since suicide is a cursed thing, Obierika says, "His body is evil and only strangers may touch it." He likewise clarifies that it is only outsiders who may bury the body.

Obierika talks furiously to the District Commissioner and says Okonkwo was an extraordinary man. Obierika announces, "You drove him to kill himself, and now he will be buried like a dog." The District Commissioner advises his men to take the body away.

At the novel's end, the District Commissioner, who is intending to write a book about his encounters, finds this event qualified to be in his book, even if it is just a paragraph. He intends to call the book The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.


The death of Okonkwo is an anticlimax, just as it is also a tragedy. The changes that occurred in his community, as well as the deterioration of his clan, left a hole in his heart. 

The family is discernibly away from this chapter. Regardless of his commitment to the clan and his family, Okonkwo dies a lonely man. Only his friend is close to him at the point of his death. Indeed, even his great friend can't go close him. As a result of his suicide, Okonkwo is viewed as an abomination—a terrible fall for a man who was once highly revered in the society.

Okonkwo's choice to end his life can be viewed by some people as heroic. He was a principled man who couldn't live in a society that did not appreciate his perspective of right and wrong. Being a man of action, Okonkwo took the most realistic that was available to him. Since he could not accept the change, he had to quit.

It is apparent that the District Commissioner feels that he has a perfect understanding of the African Culture and plan to write a book about it. However, his proposed title betrays him and reveals that he knows very little about the people among whom he had contributed in causing havoc.

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