Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Plot 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. One night, as Okonkwo is settling on his bed, he hears the beat of a drum and the voice of the town crier. The crier summons each man in Umuofia to gather at the commercial center the following morning. Okonkwo ponders whether the crisis concerns war with a neighboring tribe. War does not unnerve Okonkwo since he realizes that it terrified his fainthearted father. In Umuofia's recent war, for instance, Okonkwo brought home his fifth human head. In his family compound, Okonkwo lives in his very own house, and every one of his three spouses lives in her own house with her kids. The prosperous home has a room where Okonkwo has stashed yams, there is also a shed for goats and hens. Besides, there is a medicine house where Okonkwo keeps the images of his own god and hereditary spirits and where he offers supplications for himself and his family. He works till late on his ranches and anticipates that others will do likewise. In spite of the fact that the individuals from his family don't have his quality, they work without complaint. As indicated by the story from Okonkwo's past, his father, Unoka, sought the Oracle of the Hills and Caves, inquiring as to why he had reaped terrible produces every year disregarding his sacrifices and strict adherence to the planting methods. Amid his story, Chika (the priestess of the Oracle) interjected irately and revealed to him that he hadn't insulted the spirits, however in his laziness, he took the path of least resistance by planting on land whose fertility had been depleted. She instructed him to go home and "work like a man." Regardless of Okonkwo's humble beginnings that were characterized by several setbacks, he has ascended up the social and economic ladder and has become one of the most regarded members of his clan. However, others comment on how cruelly he deals with men who are less fruitful than himself. For instance, at a gathering to talk about the following ancestral feast, Osugo — a man without titles — takes an opposing view to Okonkwo. Okonkwo confronts Osugo by pronouncing the gathering is "for men." When others at the gathering side with Osugo, Okonkwo apologizes. The village of Umuofia gets ready for the Feast of the New Yam, which happens just before the harvest. All yams left unused from the previous year must be discarded, and everything utilized as a part of getting ready, cooking, and serving yams must be completely washed before being utilized for the new yams. Relatives and different visitors are welcomed from a far distance for the feast; Okonkwo welcomes his spouses' relatives. While every other person appears to be thrilled about the coming celebration, Okonkwo realizes that he will become sick of attending the celebration for quite a long time; he would prefer to till his farm. For two days after Ikemefuna's demise, Okonkwo can't eat or rest; his mind returns over and over to the boy who was like a child to him. On the third day, when his most loved little girl Ezinma presents to him the food he, at last, asked for, he wishes to himself that she was a boy. He is disturbed how a man with his fight record can respond like a lady over the passing of a boy. Okonkwo at last experiences a good night's rest since the killing of Ikemefuna, when all of a sudden, he is startled by a knock on his door. His wife Ekwefi discloses to him that Ezinma is dying. Ekwefi's only child, Ezinma, is the light of her life; her nine other children passed away when they were very young. Ezinma also happens to be Okonkwo's favorite child, and he sometimes wishes that Ezinma was born a boy. At the moment, she lies writhing in pain, suffering from fever while Okonkwo assembles leaves, grasses, and barks to use for her treatment. Okonkwo's unintentional killing of the boy is a wrong against the spirits, and he realizes that he and his family should leave Umuofia for a long time. As his wives and children cry severely, they briskly pack their most essential items as they get ready to escape before morning to Mbanta, the village of his mother. Okonkwo's friends move Okonkwo's yams to Obierika's compound for storage. After the escape of Okonkwo, the following day a group of village men set out to dispense justice as ordered by the earth goddess. The men destroy everything that they find in Okonkwo's compound including his huts, animals, crops and all that they found in the compound. Obierika mourns the departure of Okonkwo from the village. He is particularly concerned that a man should face such punishment for something that happened accidentally. At that moment, he remembers his twin children who had to be abandoned in the forest because of the traditions. Okonkwo arrives in Mbanta, ready to start his culturally imposed seven-year exile. His maternal uncle, Uchendu, now a village elder, invites him. Uchendu thinks about what has happened, hears the side of Okonkwo's story, and makes plans for the appropriate rituals and accompanying offerings. He gives Okonkwo a plot on which he can construct a compound for his family, and Okonkwo gets extra parcels for cultivation. Uchendu's five children each give him three hundred seed-yams to begin his new life. In spite of the fact that Okonkwo has a high status in his homeland, he feels that his seven years abroad have been squandered. He could have ascended to the pinnacle of Umuofia culture had he not been forced into exile after the accident. Toward the start of his last year in Mbanta, Okonkwo sends money to Obierika in Umuofia to reconstruct two huts on the site of his previous compound. He will construct the rest when he returns in a year. As early as Okonkwo's first year in exile, he had already had in mind the grand entry that he would want to have in Umuofia. Okonkwo has resolved to make up for the seven years he thinks he wasted when he was in exile. Not only does Okonkwo think of building a bigger compound than before, he is also planning to build huts for two more wives. Okonkwo is revived and feels the tribe has recovered its old ways. He has persuaded the men in Umuofia to arm themselves so they will be readied—not to be caught unprepared like the people in Abame. After three days, delegates from the District Commissioner's office welcome Okonkwo and five others to his office. They go on the grounds that an "Umuofia man does not decline a call." However, they bring blades, in spite of the fact that they pick not to carry firearms, which "would be uncivilized." An individual from the Umuofia delegation starts to clarify why the church was brought down, and the District Commissioner requests that he stop so he can get men to hear the grievances. Soon after the Commissioner's men go into the room, there is a short fight, and they cuff Okonkwo and the others. Okonkwo and the others are set free. Watchful clansmen don't welcome them but move out of their way. Okonkwo's male relations and companions assemble at his hut, however, they see the whip marks that had remained on his back, and no one talks with him apart from Obierika. A meeting has been scheduled for the following day. In great expectation, Okonkwo can't rest, the "bitterness in his heart ... now mixed with a kind of childlike excitement." Okonkwo is getting ready for war, and he swears retribution. On the off chance that Umuofia will battle, he will go along with them. If not, he will retaliate for himself. 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.
Have study documents to share about Things Fall Apart? Upload them to earn free Studypool credits!