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A+ Student Essay: The Role of Storytelling in Things Fall Apart
Within the complex oral culture of the Igbo, elaborate storytelling is a prized art form as well as a crucial social tool. Children learn their families’ history through their mothers’ fireside tales, and clan members absorb communal values through stories told over and over again at clan gatherings. Stories bind the Igbo people as a community, but in the hands of other, alien tellers, stories are the very things that destroy the clan and its beliefs.
Read more about the art of storytelling in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey .
For the Igbo, the storytellers that attract you and the stories that resonate for you indicate your values. Nwoye, for example, prefers to listen to his mother’s stories rather than his father’s, setting him apart from the other Igbo men. Later, Nwoye’s love of the Christians’ hymns and simple stories compel him to reject his own clan and convert, one of the first incidents of the clan’s disintegration. Nwoye is lured away from Igbo culture and toward Christianity by the affecting quality of the missionaries’ songs and tales, which speak to him more powerfully than the stories he grew up with. By choosing new stories to believe in, Nwoye in effect chooses a new society to belong to.
The falling apart of the Igbo community can be traced to the fact that the Igbo consider the white people to be mere “fairy-tales.” Rather than appreciating accounts of the Europeans’ approach as factual reports, the news of their own imminent colonization strikes the Igbo as an incredible story. As the clan elders of Mbanta confer, one claims that, though they heard “stories about white men who made the powerful guns and the strong drinks and took slaves away across the seas, no one thought the stories were true.” Uchendu, Okonkwo’s thoughtful uncle, responds, “There is no story that is not true.”
The Igbo tell stories to order their world and to ascribe meaning to certain events. But the story of the white people is not a story they have woven, whose meanings they can control. Most of the Igbo people cannot incorporate the fantastical tale of the Europeans into their worldview because it lies so far outside their frame of reference. But by failing to appreciate Uchendu’s philosophy that every story contains some truth, the Igbo fail to realize that their authority to write their own stories—in essence, to control their own destinies—has become threatened by the colonizers.
The final downfall of the Igbo people is heralded by another story—a story about them, but one that is narrated by an outsider. At the close of the novel, the Commissioner decides that he will record his own story of the Igbo. However, he declares that he must be “firm in leaving out superfluous details.” There is no room for artful, Igbo-like rhetoric in his tale of conquest. The narrative the Commissioner envisions is one that would make for “interesting reading,” that is, a written rather than oral story, which entertains rather than communicates values and customs. The Commissioner’s writing sounds the death knell for the Igbo culture, its rejection of the Igbo’s prized oral narration and elaborate rhetoric symbolizing the European conquering of Africa and subsequent uprooting of its traditions.
The Commissioner’s decision to become a writer reflects Achebe’s ambiguous relationship to the events and culture he describes in Things Fall Apart . With this novel, the Nigerian Achebe straddles the two opposing modes of storytelling he depicts within the plot, employing both the looping, repetitive style of the Igbo’s oral culture as well as the written English of the Europeans. Just as the Commissioner’s decision to write down the Igbo story signals the conclusion of that story, Achebe’s Westernized version of the Igbo history signifies the end of their traditional culture.
Things Fall Apart SparkNotes Literature Guide
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Things Fall Apart Essays
Things Fall Apart
interesting and help explain the theme and plot. Without a strong list of characters a book becomes dull. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart the characters help explain the lost Ibo culture, from strong to lazy, to women and a sacrifice to prevent war. The main character sets up the plot of a book, through their life and point of view the story is told. The main character in Things Fall Apart is a strong and culture hearted man named Okonkwo. He can be described as a tragic hero from his journey and life
Okonkwo is a tragic hero in "Things Fall Apart" Question ( 2 ): Discuss Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe 's “Things Fall Apart” is a tragic hero. Answer: In Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” Okonkwo is a tragic hero. Aristotle’s Poetics defines a Tragic Hero as a good man of high status who displays a tragic flaw ‘hamartia’ and experiences a dramatic reversal ‘peripeteia’, as well as an intense moment of recognition ‘anagnorisis’. Okonkwo is a leader and hardworking member of the Igbo community
differently by two different readers? Things Fall Apart Language and Literature Things fall apart is a novel written by Chinua Achebe. It is set during the late 19th, early 20th century in a small village named Umuofia situated in Nigeria. This time period is important because it was a period in colonial history when the British were increasing their influence economic, cultural, and political influence in Africa. The novel deals with the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a man from the village of
Based off the book Things Fall Apart, the videos we watched in class, and the poem “The White Man’s Burden”, the white man’s burden of spreading Christianity was more harmful than helpful. In both the book and the film the African Tribes were already fully functional as a whole. They had systems in place such as forms of government, art, social systems, and economic systems. After the whites came to convert them, things started to fall apart and become chaotic. As we saw in the videos, there were
The author of “The Women of Things Fall Apart, Speaking from a Different Perspective: Chimamanda Adichie’s Headstrong Storytellers,” Anene Ejikeme, claims that Chinua Achebe successfully introduces Ibo culture to a Western audience; however, even Achebe would agree that there cannot just be one story to represent such a complex society, and Ejikeme argues that Things Fall Apart is too centered upon the male’s reaction to English powers. Therefore, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Headstrong Historians”
moment it opens with W.B. Yeats’s haunting poem, pieces are being chipped away and fall silently to the dust. However, things do not truly fall apart until the final act and freezing conclusion. Although the storytelling and plot is very straightforward, (usually erring on the blunt side of the rhetorical spectrum) the true genius of the book lies in its subtleties. By the end of the story things have fallen apart for Okonkwo and his people, but it's not until that ending that the reader can put
Things fall apart
Reflection on the novel Things Fall Apart The Idea of Culture in Things Fall Apart The novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs, customs and also about conflict. There is struggle between family and within culture and it also deals with the concept of culture and the notion of the values and traditions within a culture. The word culture is Latin and means to cultivate. To cultivate has several meanings; it can mean to plow, fertilize, raise and plant, to
Society (Things Fall Apart) Women are often thought of as the weaker, more vulnerable of the two sexes. Thus, women’s roles in literature are often subdued and subordinate. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, women are repressed by an entrenched structure of the social repression. Women suffer great losses in this novel but, also in certain circumstances, hold tremendous power. Achebe provides progressively changing attitudes towards women’s role. At first glance, the women in Things Fall Apart may
English oral presentation Cultural strengths of the Ibo society before the invasion of the colons. The novel "Things fall apart" by Chinua Achebe describes the social and cultural traits of a culture based on the principles of labor and masculinity, conformity and kinship and finally on solid juridical system. The worth of a man was measured by his strength and the amount of work he could accomplish and how efficiently feed his family, the concepts of masculinity is strictly related with
Around the late 1800s, African communities resisted against the attempts to colonize their countries and force foreign domination . In Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, colonizers come to the villages of Umuofia and Mbanta. The title is a reflection of the effect of colonialism on the novel’s protagonist, Okonkwo. He fights to stop the colonizers from taking control of his village. Throughout the novel, he struggles to not become lazy, like his father, and works desperately to keep his the
Okonkwo Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel about a man in West Africa. It tells about his triumphs and trial ultimately leading to his demise. It explains how the “white man” came into his country and took over. It show you how the “white man” mad things fall apart. Okonkwo was a very large and tall man. He had big bushy eyebrows and a huge nose. As stated in Things Fall Apart, “He was tall and huge, and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose gave him a very severe look (3-4).” He was extremely
which have gradually faded away over time. In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, an African society is introduced to Western culture and faces a strong clash between those who want to keep the tribe’s tradition and those who want to change to adapt to the new customs. If this text would have been written in a different time of place, there would be a significant amount of changes in the way the plot unravels. If Things Fall Apart had been written in the 1490s with Native American tribes
Things Fall Apart, a novel by Chinua Achebe, highlights the fight between colonialism and traditional societies. The protagonist Okonkwo is a man of high status throughout the nine villages and even beyond due to his many achievements, such as gaining fame as a young person when he defeated the undefeatable, a wrestler nicknamed “the cat”. He is strong and hard-working, unlike his father, Unoka, who has a tainted legacy of being effeminate and cowardly. Unoka died and left many unpaid debts, so
someones personality and life. I wouldn’t say they define us but they shift and mold who we are going to be when we grow up. If you strip away the core of traditions or activities that were considered normal, it could really affect someone. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is a perfect example of this theory. He was torn that Missionaries came into Umofia while he was gone and changed everything. Okonkwo felt betrayed by how much change took toll in Umofia. He isn’t used to the new rules and regulars given
Culture plays an important role in society, it is what makes a people unique. In the book Things Fall Apart, author Chinua Achebe wrote the book using proverbs and traditions of the Ibo to reveal the uniqueness and wisdom of the culture, which ends up getting interfered with another culture. Throughout the book, proverbs are used to illustrate the wisdom of the Ibo people. On page 19, a man says, “We shall all live. We shall pray for life, children, a good harvest and happiness... let the kite
Book Report Things Fall Apart, the first book of the African Trilogy, is written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. The classic narrative depicts Africa’s interactions with Europe as Europe begins to have an influence on the country (culture, religion, etc.) Throughout the story the reader will peruse about Okonkwo’s, the protagonist, fictional encounters. Okonkwo is the beloved leader of the Igbo community of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. Throughout the book there is a reoccuring theme that Okonkwo
Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe was set in pre-colonial Nigeria during the constant battle against the way the country was run. The main character Okonkwo, was very famous in the surrounding village for being a wrestling champion. In the story, Okonkwo was portrayed as a hard-working, and strived to show no weakness like his father, Unoka. His father, has tainted Okonkwo’s family as being effeminate. The bad reputation of Okonkwo’s family caused him to be diligent in building his wealth
In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe tells a story set during the British colonialism of Nigeria in the late 19th century. Of the descriptions that Achebe makes, one of the most significant is the British District Court officers and the egwugwu. There are several superficial similarities between the District Court officers and the egwugwu. These similarities include their relationship with the people of the culture. The egwugwu are masqueraders who impersonate the gods of the Igbo
The word hero means a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. In the book “Things Fall Apart “ by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is a hard-working leader in the village of Umuofia during the time of British colonialism of Nigeria. He is portrayed as a tragic hero because he allows inner and outside forces to contribute to his downfall and gains the sympathy from the reader. Okonkwo allowed his inner and outside forces to contribute to his downfall
A novel extremely fascinating yet exceptionally ambiguous. Things Fall Apart is a novel by Chinua Achebe that takes place in Nigeria, Africa where the story is mainly about how the main character’s life is falling apart. Therefore, if there were two different readers are someone from the African Culture and someone from the American culture reading it in modern time they would interpret the novel differently. In the novel the text could be interpreted differently by two different readers through
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Things fall apart: change vs tradition, the portrayal of women in things fall apart, repression and tragedy in achebe’s things fall apart, how okonkwo’s outward conformity hides his personal questioning in things fall apart, the main aims of the author in "things fall apart", okonkwo's polarized concepts of femininity and masculinity in things fall apart, the importance of adapting to changes in "things fall apart" by chinua achebe, the use of proverbs in things fall apart by chinua achebe, achebe's goal to increase global comprehension of african culture through things fall apart, critique of the effect of western imperialism on the third world in things fall apart, the effects of colonialism on igbo society in things fall apart and the joys of motherhood, the allegory of the title things fall apart, triumph and tragedy: the exploration of a tragic hero and the consequences of others that contribute to the overall tragic vision of the peace "things fall apart", things fall apart and purple hibiscus: female sabotage in an african setting, the use of proverbs in chinua achebe’s novel, language as a bridge to understanding in things fall apart, a novel by chinua achebe, how chinua achebe uses settings in his "things fall apart", impacts of post-colonialism in things fall apart, surfacing, and fire on the mountain, things fall apart: sexism in the igbo culture, the importance of family in white teeth, disgrace and things fall apart, theme of parental conflict in purple hibiscus and things fall apart, evaluation of the role of okonkwo as illustrated in achebe's things fall apart, analysis of okonkwo as a tragic hero, comparison of "heart of darkness" and "things fall apart", the portrayals of imperialism in "things fall apart" and "heart of darkness", the use of ethos, logos and pathos in the book "things fall apart" by chinua achebe, comparative analysis of "heart of darkness" versus "things fall apart", chinua achebe and joseph boyden on the colonialism process, nigeria vs western capitalist society as potrayed in things fall apart and the joys of motherhood, one hundred years of solitude and things fall apart: a comparative literary study, feeling stressed about your essay.
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1958, Chinua Achebe
Novel; Allegorical, historical fiction
Ezinma, Nwoye, Ikemefuna, Okonkwo, Mr. Brown
The European invasion and earlier colonial accounts of African history.
Colonialism, culture, family, friendship, life, struggle, politics, a cultural clash, Igbo society
While the African culture is often ignored, this particular book speaks directly about life in the Igbo society. It also tells an insider story of the African experience that becomes clear for those people who are not directly involved. It tells about the spiritual history of African people and makes a cultural aspect that is often ignored even through the lens of colonial background.
This complex, yet profound novel tells us a story of Okonkwo, a wrestling champion belonging to the Igbo community. The novel takes place among the fictional clan where we learn about family life, history of the main character, custom, society, and the usual challenges. The third part of the book deals with the Christian missionaries and the European colonialism.
The title of the book has been taken from a poem called "The Second Coming", which has been penned by W.B. Yeats. Achebe's goal has been to let the readers learn more about the African society that has been dynamic and vivid, yet completely different from the Western society. The book shows Africa as a modern and well-developed society. The "Things Fall Apart" manuscript has been lost for months until it has finally been found for publishing. Achebe has been influenced by the style of Charles Dickens. The book has given a start for the African literature all over the world. Achebe's work has helped to break down numerous stereotypes about the African society and the tribes.
“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.” “If you don't like my story, write your own” “Then listen to me,' he said and cleared his throat. 'It's true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother's hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that mother is supreme. Is it right that you, Okonkwo, should bring your mother a heavy face and refuse to be comforted? Be careful or you may displease the dead. Your duty is to comfort your wives and children and take them back to your fatherland after seven years. But if you allow sorrow to weigh you down and kill you, they will all die in exile.” “Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.”
The most important lesson that this book brings and a reason why it is essential for us is the socio-cultural clash that takes place as the colonial times arrive. We are given an opportunity to compare the things that were usual for Igbo community and the changes that immediately took place, mostly against a person's will.
It is an important topic that helps us to write about the culture, society, our background, history, and the changes that we have to endure when the new changes come. The book is a great example of how the old friendships and tradition vs change instantly become broken when the cultural pressure comes up. It is also a great novel that tells us about our faith and the rule of power.
Okonkwo is an element or a symbol of peripeteia or a dramatic reversal. We can follow Okonkwo's path from being a man of respect to becoming an outcast in his tribe (clan). The tragedy of his death (suicide) is what represents the downfall.
1. Rhoads, D. A. (1993). Culture in Chinua Achebe's Things fall apart. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/african-studies-review/article/abs/culture-in-chinua-achebes-things-fall-apart/D123B160B650B9BE84E6E85ACF032B9A African Studies Review, 36(2), 61-72. 2. Caldwell, R. (2005). Things fall apart? Discourses on agency and change in organizations. Human relations, 58(1), 83-114. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0018726705050937?journalCode=huma) 3. Ikuenobe, P. (2006). The idea of personhood in Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart. Philosophia Africana, 9(2), 117-131. (https://www.pdcnet.org/philafricana/content/philafricana_2006_0009_0002_0117_0131) 4. Parmentier, M. A., & Fischer, E. (2015). Things fall apart: The dynamics of brand audience dissipation. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(5), 1228-1251. (https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article/41/5/1228/2962093) 5. Nnoromele, P. C. (2000). The Plight of a Hero in Achebe s" Things Fall Apart". College Literature, 27(2), 146-156. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/25112519) 6. Shiner, M., Scourfield, J., Fincham, B., & Langer, S. (2009). When things fall apart: Gender and suicide across the life-course. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953609003670 Social Science & Medicine, 69(5), 738-746. 7. Ten Kortenaar, N. (1991). How the centre is made to hold in Things Fall Apart. ESC: English Studies in Canada, 17(3), 319-336. (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/694908) 8. McCormick, G. H., Horton, S. B., & Harrison, L. A. (2007). Things Fall Apart: the endgame dynamics of internal wars. Third World Quarterly, 28(2), 321-367. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01436590601153721)
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Things Fall Apart Essays
- Things Fall Apart
Cultural tension has always been around, whether people like it or not. The strain might be caused by race, religion or economics, but in the end it always leads to things falling apart. Cultural tensions arise in Chinua Achebe’s novel, when the European missionaries start settling into Africa in hopes to convert the Ibo people to Christianity. In Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart the cultural tension between the Ibo people and new European settlers causes abounding problems for Okonkwo our main character witch include family disputes and internal inquiring’s. As missionaries came to settle were Okonkwo lives and spread their religion, Okonkwo is faced to realize that his eldest son Nwoye is not like him. Seeking to be accepted Nwoye converts to Christinaity and moves back to Umuofia where his father has been exiled for seven years. While Okonkwo may seem like he does not care that his son has left him we later learn that Okonkwo did care enough to feel sorrow for his departure, but not enough to keep it for long. As Okonkwo’s story continued he says he has, “overcome his sorrow. He had five other sons and he would bring them up in the way of the clan” (161). This shows that although Okonkwo may feel some discomfort in the idea of losing his son to the…
Chinua Achebe’s View on a Patriarchal Society Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart shows feminism from the male perspective. In the Igbo society, women typically take on the role of a housewife, which involves, cooking, cleaning, and anything that will benefit the man in the house. This was the standard way of life for a while in many places throughout the world, including in America. While Chinua Achebe illustrates the secondary role for women in a patriarchal society, nevertheless he…
What To Do When ‘Things Fall Apart’ Just as the title of the novel suggests Okonkwo's downfall is caused by his inability to follow the morals of his culture and to adapt to colonization. Things Fall Apart , a historical fiction novel by Chinua Achebe, takes place in Nigeria around the turn of the 19th century which is extremely important; it means Okonkwo’s life is in both, the pre- and post-European era. This allows Achebe to give Okonkwo a more complex, old fashioned, and unique…
In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe the role of women is mostly portrayed as a negative one because in the novel the women do not get treated the same way as men, the women get beat, and the women in the book are seen as property and not as human beings, which is what they are. The women in things fall apart play a major role in the novel because without the women the men would never be anything because in order to be a fascinating leader you need to have many wives, (although that…
opposite of his lazy father, Unoka. Okonkwo is revealed to have a great work ethic and a short temper. Agbala, the goddess of the earth, Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, and Ikemefuna, Okonkwo’s ill-fated tribute son are all introduced in the beginning of Things Fall Apart. The Week of Peace is celebrated every year in Umuofia. The harming of a tribe member by another is forbidden during the Week of Peace. Okonkwo disobeys this rule by beating his wife which brings about the wrath of Chielo, the priestess…
Why are traditions so important to a culture? Do the traditions of any society do more harm than good or vice versa? Things Fall Apart is a fiction novel written by Chinua Achebe in 1965. He writes about Okonkwo a wealthy and respected warrior who sees his biological son Nwoye just like his failure of a father Unoka. He soon takes in Ikemefuna a 15-year-old boy and sees in the son who will not disappoint him. When a time comes that Ikemefuna must die because of the oracles Okonkwo makes the boy…
In the novel Things Fall Apart we’re presented with the character of Unoka, who lived in a lower Nigerian tribe that is part of a nine-section connected village, Iguedo. Unoka can be described as a free spirit someone who lived their life listening to the wind and being one with nature a trait that to many seemed weak. Unoka was a man who could not stand the sight of blood making him an awful warrior, a very much respected role in his community. He was inconsistent borrowing and losing money,…
Alyssa Kondash Things fall apart 11/15/15 Things fall apart, is the story of an Ibo village called Umuofia, it takes place around the late 1800’s in Africa. The story was written with eastern views in mind, some of our western views are considered shameful to them. Okonkwo, the main character was one of the most well known and respected men in the village of Umuofia known for his strength and valor. Also being well known for having many titles, the more titles you have the more successful and…
In his insightful critique, “The Plight of a Hero in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,” Patrick Nnoromele reevaluates the demise of protagonist Okonkwo, widely perceived as a repercussion of his tragic flaw: the abiding fear of resembling his effeminate and disreputable father. However, Nnoromele alternatively suggests that Okonkwo’s suicide was not the manifestation of weakness and defeat, but rather a gallant act according to the Igbo ideals. To justify this claim, the critic characterizes a hero in…
How can an author use a fictional character to make a cultural statement? Chinua Achebe in his novel Things Fall Apart answers this question by telling a story of British colonization through an African point of view. In this work of historical fiction, Okonkwo wants the people of Umuofia to fight against the British, but instead many of the people of Umuofia follow the new ideas the British bring such as Christianity. Then Okonkwo loses hope that his people, so then Okonkwo commits suicide by…
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Things Fall Apart Essays
Things fall apart masculinity.
Masculinity has a huge impact on the lives of the Ibo tribe. For instance, Ibo tribes in Africa highly support male masculinity and dominance. From a young age the individuals of the Ibo tribe are molded to understand the concept of male superiority. For anyone who digresses away from this idea, is thought of as weak by the community. In Things Fall Apart, the protagonist’s life, Okonkwo, is derived from his obsession with masculinity and his fear of failure and […]
White Missionaries and the Igbo People
In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the author brings white missionaries into the Igbo people’s land. These missionaries have caused the Igbo people to convert into a new religion and a new government. Therefore Chinua Achebe uses the missionaries to convey the theme that the legacy of colonialism leads to a shattered community. Even though the Igbo people had tried to resist the missionaries’ beliefs, they underestimated the missionaries’ power. This book was published in 1958 and […]
Gender Roles in Things Fall Apart
The role of women has always been surrounded by controversy, some people believe women should get married, have children and take care of the household. Others believe women should have the choice between working a nine to five job, being a stay at home mom or both. Things Fall Apart was written by African writer Chinua Achebe in 1959, it came from the stories that Achebe’s mother used to tell him about the Igbo people. Things Fall Apart tells the […]
Comparative Study on Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness illustrate the various ways of representing Africa in the form of literature. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad presents Africa through the perspective of colonization by the Europeans who depict the African continent as savages, uncivilized, and underdeveloped. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, on the other hand, tend to respond to Conrad’s perception of Africa by portraying the native Africans as focused, cultured, and productive. Through Okonkwo, Achebe depicts Africans as proud […]
Okonkwo is the Legend of the Novel Things Fall Apart
Things fall apart is a disaster novel formed by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo, who is the legend of the novel and a champion among the most powerful men in the Ibo tribe routinely falls back on violence to make his centers appreciated. Down in his heart, Okonkwo is genuinely not a savage man, anyway his life is directed by his inside conflict, the fear of dissatisfaction and of inadequacy. Okonkwo made it a point in his life to isolate himself from […]
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About Westernization in “Things Fall Apart”
Things Fall Apart”Things Fall Apart” a book written by Chinua Achebe is set in Nigeria in the 1890’s and portrays the clash between Nigeria’s white colonial government and the traditional culture of the native Igbo people. Many of the characters in this book clearly conveyed the effects of westernization at this time. In “Things Fall Apart” Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, was positively impacted by the western culture collision by breaking away from his father and his culture to pursue his dreams. […]
Complex Culture in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe the author teaches us how the Ibo and the British are both uncivilized in their own ways. The Ibo being uncivilized in their technology. While the British are uncivilized in their world view and the way they treat other people. The text states He had and old rusty gun made by a clever blacksmith who came to live in Umofia long ago pg.38. This shows how technologically primitive the people of Umofia are. […]
Imperialism in “Heart of Darkness” and “Things Fall Apart”
Throughout the novels, Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart, both illustrate the complexity and the morality surrounding imperialism, which struck the continent of Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. By comparing and contrasting the two different perspectives on the effects of imperialism shown in Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart, the authors’ messages correspond to the overarching message of the evils of imperialism, yet the little action that could be done to end it. In […]
Colonism in Things Fall Apart
Nigerian author named, Chinua Achebe, authored a novel which was entitled as Things Fall Apart,’ which was published in the year 1958. The novel was an attempt by the author to present the true image of the African society, through the literature, which has always been depicted as an uncivilized and backward society in the literature of the foreign languages. The author included the story, as well as the transition of a Nigerian tribe from the traditional society to the […]
About Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Introduction The book Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe with the aim of depicting a lower tribe in Nigeria. The book is thrilling because it narrates about the Igbo society. Chinua Achebe uses Okonkwo when giving a detailed account of the Igbo society. Okonkwo was a focused man who wanted to avoid the mistakes of his father. Unlike his father who spent all his life accumulating debts, Okonkwo was a focused man who aimed at improving his life. […]
Colonialism and its Aftermath: Changing Realities
Surfacing in readings of twentieth-century British literature is the theme of colonialism and its aftermath, which provides texts for analysis of historical viewpoints. Literary theorists respond to the subject of colonialism and its aftermath in twentieth-century British literature where observations and analysis are found in the writings of Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, and others.Their texts define relations between the colonizers and the colonized, demonstrating aspects of colonialism and its aftermath. In a reading of twentieth-century British literature a return to […]
Collision in Conrad’s and Achebe’s Novels
In Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart, Joseph Conrad and Chinua Achebe employ characters caught between colliding cultures which can be seen through the use of literary techniques such as symbolism and imagery, ultimately revealing the theme of culture and traditions. The authors Joseph Conrad and Chinua Achebe have main characters that live in different continents, but experience similar cultural collisions. Although Marlow and Okonkwo have different lifestyles, they are led to question their identities and make decisions that […]
Novels Kanthapura and Things Fall Apart
Raja Rao and Chinua Achebe through the depiction of the respective philosophies in their novels Kanthapura and Things Fall Apart brings out the perception of social, cultural and traditional aspects of Nigerian village Umuofia and Indian village of Kanthapura. Moreover, both the authors through these philosophies put light on the issue of colonization which the African natives and Indian natives suffered at the hands of white missionaries and Britishers. Rao who was an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, paid respect […]
Heart of Darkness & Things Fall Apart
Authors write to tell stories to the reader, but they also write to communicate personal opinions and ideas to show the reader. Readers are able to be bias with their own personal beliefs that they have in common with the novel, usually with their own race or religion. Throughout the novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad expresses his opinions through the main characters Marlow and Mr. Kurtz with their attitudes and actions. By the same way, Chinua Achebe displays his […]
The European as a Savior of Native Africans
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness remains as one of the greatest works in English literature. The novel has received many reviews since it was published with some praising it while others are criticizing. One of the critical reviews was written by Chinua Achebe in his book Things Fall Apart. Achebe argued that Conrad is a racist after depicting the African culture negatively. The author of the Heart of Darkness stresses that the western religion is better in civilizing the Africans […]
Okonkwo from “Things Fall Apart”
Things Fall Apart is a story of a man named Okonkwo who is from the village of Umofia. He was a hardworking man but despite all the hard work he didn’t achieved much in life. His father was a laid back man who was nothing for good and Okonkwo was opposed of his father way of living. He had three wives and was also one among the egwugwu which is considered as the masked spirit of the descendants. He was […]
Fight for Equality between Men and Women
The fight for equality between men and women has been an ongoing battle for years. While many opt to turn a blind eye and believe there is equality, there are so many situations not only nationally, but globally that prove otherwise. While respect towards women has grown, there is still a lot of tension fueled by the male perception of what a “women’s role” is in society. In today’s society, women are not strongly represented in executive roles, experience significant […]
Colonialism Depicted in Things Fall Apart
Postcolonialism is the scholarly investigation of the social heritage of expansionism and dominion, concentrating on the human outcomes of the control and abuse of colonized individuals and their territories. Postcolonialism is a basic hypothesis examination of the history, culture, writing, and talk of European royal force. The name postcolonialism is demonstrated on postmodernism, with which it shares certain ideas and techniques, and might be thought of as a response to or takeoff from expansionism similarly postmodernism is a response to […]
Things Fall Apart Tragic Hero
A classical tragedy is meant to evoke emotions on the reader and make them sympathize for the tragic hero and recognize their humanity. Tragedies are characterized by the tragic hero overcoming obstacles only to inevitably reach their downfall. The hero’s fatal or tragic flaw is accountable for the hero’s demise. The hero can be viewed as a man who is a leader but who is also weak when it comes down to difficult situations. In Chinua Achebe’s Novel, Things Fall […]
Things Fall Apart Analysis
Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Chinua Achebe that shows the conflicts in Nigeria during the nineteenth century. During this time, missionaries from Great Britain arrived in Nigeria. In this novel, the main character, Okonkwo, resists changes brought about by the British missionaries. Okonkwo’s close friend, Obierika, shares the same dislike towards the change, but isn’t as willing to fight them. Instead, Obierika, along with the tribe, is forced to accept the changes to their culture. Their attitude […]
Culture in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
Just imagine, something or someone that annoys you the most and you were stuck with that thing or person for the rest of your life. That type of situation occurred in the book, Things Fall Apart and the poem “Beat! Beat! Drums!” Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe and the story sets around the life of Okonkwo, a prominent man living in the village of Umoufia. Then, all of a sudden, newcomers arrive into town that changes the […]
Justice in Things Fall Apart
Throughout the whole story, Okonkwo’s life was dominated by “the fear of failure and of weakness” (Achebe, 13). He tried so hard to become better than his father and raise his standings in the village. Spending his whole life doing this, Okonkwo could not let change occur because change meant things would no longer be the same, and all his respect he gained in his village would go to waste. So when the white men came and started disrupting the […]
The Fall of National Identity in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
The protagonist in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, is Okonkwo he is a man who grew up with little to nothing in his pocket, nothing to inherit but, he made a name for himself. He was the first person to beat the fiercest wrestler in the village, “Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, from Umofia to Mbaino.”(Pg.1) Okonkwo was very strong and helpful to his village, but he was very mean […]
Author’s Style in Things Fall Apart and Lord of the Flies
The writing in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, is different than what I normally read. I think this has to do with the proverbs that are used. Achebe uses lyrical and visual language through the use of proverbs and short stories to provide a photographic view of the Ibo’s culture. “Yam, the king of crops, was a very exacting king. For three or four moons it demanded hard work and constant attention from the cock-crow till the chickens went […]
Become Gendered in “Things Fall Apart”
The book Things Fall Apart is a fiction novel written by Chinua Achebe in 1958. The story documented the pre- and post-colonial life in Nigeria between the characters like Okonkwo, Nwoye, Ezinma and etc including their internal feeling, before and after the arrival of the colonist. In the story, Achebe revealed many traditions of the Igbo culture such as how the gender roles between men and women are very prominent in this culture. In fact, their lives were gendered because […]
Religion and Ideology in Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe begins by introducing the main character of this story, Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a strong and wealthy warrior of the Umofia clan. He was well respected because he was the ideal man of their tribe, in that he was extremely masculine and an extraordinary wrestler. However, he was ignorant when it came to verbal communication. Achebe states, “He was tall and huge, and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose gave him a severe look…He had […]
A Cultural Note on Okonkwo’s Suicide in Things Fall Apart
In the novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is willing to break the prohibition against suicide because he lost all hope when he realizes Umuofia will not support going to war with the missionaries. The statement that Okonkwo is making by committing suicide in the manner that he does is that he’d rather die on his own terms than being ruled by white men and submitting to their culture. One of the themes of Things Fall Apart is change. In the […]
Masculinity in Societies in Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold explore the theme of violent masculinity through the actions of major characters such as Okonkwo and the Vicario twins. Achebe’s Okonkwo displays his masculinity by obtaining titles and accomplishments and hiding his emotions. Marquez’s Vicario twins validate their masculinity by murdering the man responsible for dishonoring their sister. While both authors make violent masculinity a core component of their characterization of Okonkwo and the Vicario twins […]
Things Fall Apart Dehumanization by Matthew Register
Achebe throughout the past has expressed his beliefs on what works of art should do if they should be considered great works, and heart of darkness fails his test by “dehumanized” and “depersonalized” Africa and its people, how Things fall apart properly describes and depicts Africans and how damaging heart of darkness truly was. Achebe has stated in the past that “the question of whether a novel which celebrates… dehumanization, which depersonalized a portion of the human race, can be […]
Extremes in Literature and Real Life: why Moderation is a Good Idea
The key to a healthy lifestyle is to enjoy things in moderation because an abundance of anything could be detrimental to one’s health. This applies to everything in life, from french fries to philosophy. As the popular idiom goes, you can have too much of a good thing, and this is illustrated in Pangloss and Candide’s optimism in Candide, Okonkwo’s drive-in Things Fall Apart, and modern Islamic extremism. Optimism is generally thought of as a good character trait, as it […]
Essay About Things Fall Apart ‘Things Fall Apart’ is a very well-written novel written by Chinua Achebe which took place during the nineteenth century. The setting of the story was Igboland. Throughout this essay, I am going to explain how the protagonist had a life before his world “falls apart” (hence the title), how the outside forces change his life, how he responds to the situation. I will also include how the poem “The Second Coming’ by William Butler Yeats sets the tone and inspiration for the novel Things Fall Apart. The story begins with Okonkwo, who at a very young age, strived to be perfect which is contrary to his father. His father was lazy, to say the least. He built his home and reputation as a hardworking farmer and wrestler. His hard work paid off as he became wealthy. He had a natural son, Nwoye, and an adoptive son, Ikemefuna, who he loved more than his real son. Things changed when he has to kill his adoptive son as to what his tribe has decided. Okonkwo showed no emotion as he wants to be seen as the image of masculinity although inside, he was guilty, hurt, and regretful. During the funeral, he accidentally shot and killed a boy which caused him to be exiled in Mbanta, his mother’s homeland. During his stay in Manta, news came to him that the White Missionaries has arrived in his tribe. These White Missionaries bring Christianity with them and has convinced a lot of Igbo people to be converted to Christianity. Just when Okonkwo was allowed to go back home, his son converted to Christianity which made him disown his own son. The Igbo people tried to make peace with the missionaries but the latter captured the leaders of the Igbo people and was only freed when the Igbo people had enough ransom money with them. They wanted revenge, thus they held a war council. But in the midst of the council, the missionaries’ court messenger arrived and ordered them to stop the meeting. It dawned to Okonkwo that they can never go against the white, and as proud as himself, he hung himself to death. Things Fall Apart is a story of a culture on the verge of change. It talks about how the different characters have responded to the call of change. More often than not, the strain of whether the change is more important than tradition entails personal status questions. For example, Okonkwo is against the new religious and political order. This is because he believed that accepting the new religious and political order means that they are not man enough. In addition, this is also due to his fear that he might lose his social status once he accepts and joins them. For him, his self-worth depends on the traditional standards of society. But these traditional standards of self-evaluation has caused a lot of outcasts to embrace Christianity where they enjoyed a higher status. Generally speaking, the villagers are in between choosing or resisting change. They are wrapped with fear as to what these changes will bring them and how will they adapt to such changes in as much as they are also excited with the new opportunities and techniques that come with it. However, the White Missionaries wanted to eliminate the need to master the traditional ways of cooking, farming, harvesting, and building which were crucial for survival to the Igbo people. In the entire novel, Achebe showed how these traditions are slowly being changed and forgotten. The novel does not have a direct antagonist, but the entire world seems to be against Okonkwo. His own family can’t live up with his expectation and his fellow villagers did the same by embracing change rather than protecting and preserving their culture and tradition. In addition to the internal antagonists found inside their village, the presence of the Europeans is also considered as an external antagonist. The novel is also symbolic. The two symbols that were used in the story is fire and locusts. The fire symbolizes Okonkwo’s personality – fierce and destructive. On the other hand, the locusts symbolize the white colonials whom the Igbos thought are good but actually have a different intention. It is worth noting that Things Fall Apart’ is written in English. This is because Achebe wanted the people of the West to read and understand it. He wanted to critique and amend what other writers of the colonial period have painted about the image of Africa. In order to achieve his goal, the need to use the language of these colonials is necessary. Geography plays a pivotal role in the novel as time does. The novel dates back in the 1890s, the time when the British colonials have reached Igboland. The story happened just when British imperialism started in the region, which started not with guns but with Bibles.
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Things Fall Apart
October 4, 2020
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3. Sample Essay Topics
4. A+ Essay Topic Breakdown
Things Fall Apart is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
Things Fall Apart is set in a fictional group of Igbo villages called Umuofia, around the beginning of the twentieth century. The first half of the novel is dedicated to an almost anthropological depiction of Igbo village life and culture through following the life of the protagonist Okonkwo . Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive in the nine villages and beyond. He has dedicated his life to achieving status and proving his strength to avoid becoming like his father Unoka – a lazy, improvident, but gentle man. Weakness is Okonkwo’s greatest fear. After men in another village kill a woman from Umuofia, a boy named Ikemefuna is given to Umuofia as compensation and lives in Okonkwo’s compound until the Gods decide his fate. Ikemefuna quickly becomes part of Okonkwo’s family; he is like a brother to Okonkwo’s son Nwoye and is secretly loved by Okonkwo as well. Over the next three years, the novel follows Okonkwo’s family through harvest seasons, religious festivals, cultural rituals, and domestic disputes. Okonkwo is shown to be more aggressive than other Igbo men and is continually criticized and rebuked by the village for his violence and temper . When the Oracle of the Hills and Caves decides that Ikemefuna must be killed, Okonkwo is warned by a respected elder to have no hand in the boy’s death because Ikemefuna calls him ‘father’. However, afraid of being thought weak, when Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo in hope of protection, Okonkwo delivers the fatal blow. Ikemefuna’s brutal death deeply distresses Nwoye who becomes afraid of his father.
At the end of Part One, Okonkwo accidentally kills a clansman at a funeral after his faulty gun explodes and is exiled to his motherland, Mbanta. During his exile, British missionaries arrive in Mbanta and establish a church. Nwoye, disillusioned with his own culture and Gods after Ikemefuna’s death, is attracted to Christianity and is an early convert . This is a heartbreaking disappointment to Okonkwo. When Okonkwo and his family return from exile after seven years they find that the missionaries and colonial governors have established Umuofia as the center of their new colonial government . Clashes of culture and morality occur, and as the British make the Igbo more dependent on them through introducing trade and formal education, the Igbo way of life is continually undermined . When a Christian convert unmasks an egwugwu during a tribal ritual, a sin amounting to the death of an ancestral spirit, the egwugwu burn down the village church. The men who destroyed the church are arrested and humiliated by the District Commissioner, and Okonkwo beheads a court messenger at a village council in rebellion. When none of his clansmen rise with him against the British, Okonkwo realizes his culture and way of life is lost and commits suicide in despair. Suicide is a crime against the Earth Goddess, Ani , so Okonkwo is left to rot above ground in the Evil Forest, like his father Unoka – a shameful fate he spent his life desperate to avoid. The final paragraph, written from the perspective of the District Commissioner, reduces Okonkwo’s life to a single sentence about his death in his planned book The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of The Lower Niger . Achebe has filled an entire novel with evidence of the complexity and sophistication of Okonkwo’s individual and social life and the District Commissioner’s casual dismissal and belittling of him causes us to flinch with horror and dismay. This is a metaphor for the reduction of Igbo culture in the eyes of its colonizers.
The title gives away the plot of the novel and anticipates the collapse of Okonkwo and his society. Things Fall Apart is about the connection between the tragic downfall of Okonkwo , who fate and temperamental weakness combine to destroy, and the destruction of his culture and society as the Igbo way of life is assailed by forces they do not understand and are unprepared to face .
A Full and Fair Representation of Ibo Traditional Life
The first part of the novel presents the traditional world of the Ibo with specificity and vibrancy . The imbedded descriptions of the patterns of interaction, daily routines and seasonal rituals of Ibo life creates an overwhelming impression of community and shared culture. We see the established system of values which regulates collective life and how closely related this is to natural cycles and environments. The Ibo’s moral values are contained in sayings and stories, rituals and festivals. Achebe depicts a comprehensive and sustaining social, spiritual, economic, agricultural, and legal order. (Chapters to consider: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 19)
While Ibo society is marked by the internal coherence of its organization and the poetry of its rituals, this coherence is partially formed by the repression of the individual and the inflexibility of social norms. Achebe shows the violence, dehumanization, and discrimination vulnerable groups experience in Umuofia due to the rigid adherence to tradition and superstition. This includes the customary abandonment of newborn twins, the sacrificial murder of Ikemefuna in the name of justice, and the discriminatory caste structure that denies inclusion to the osu (Chapters 7, 18).
Obierika’s questioning of the stern logic of some customs suggests that many laws are enacted from a sense of duty and inevitability rather than from a firm conviction in their justice or efficacy (Chapter 13). The cultural demand for conformity places a huge moral and psychological burden on individuals who must reckon with the sometimes heartless will of the gods . This internal tension is epitomized in the character of Okonkwo, discussed below.
Clash of Cultures
When the Ibo are confronted with rival institutions a mirror is held up to their society. Fall Apart honestly considers and reflects on Ibo practices, customs, values, and beliefs. The novel is a frank articulation of the nature of the African past and its relevance to the present and future . Achebe wants to illuminate Ibo culture to dispense with lingering colonial prejudices, but he is not sentimental or nostalgic for the past. Instead he is shifting through it to identify the valuable aspects of Ibo culture to bring into the future and help define Nigeria’s post-independence identity .
Achebe recognises that the colonial encounter which led, swiftly and seemingly inevitably, to the disintegration of Ibo culture revealed its profound weaknesses. Achebe suggests that with the arrival and contrast against another culture, a cultural reckoning was inevitable for the Ibo. However, cultural reckoning and revaluation is not the same thing as destruction and erasure . The British colonialists were a hostile force seeking cultural domination. By pointing out some of the weaknesses of the Ibo tradition, Achebe in no way excuses or justifies colonial domination or diminishes the pain and tragedy of the cultural erasure that occurred.
The anti-colonial position and purpose of the novel is powerfully clear. Achebe depicts the process of colonial initial establishment and the resultant cultural suspension of Ibo society. The British colonizers believed in their inherent cultural superiority and arrived in Umuofia with the intention to “bring civilization” (p.151) to Africa. They wanted to achieve full control by supplanting Ibo religion and culture with their own.
The British arrived quietly and non-confrontationally with their religion and the clans allow them to stay, misinterpreting their silence as peaceability . An Ibo proverb warns that there is danger in silence and nothing to fear from someone who reveals their motivations (Chapter 15). Obierika recognizes how the white man’s strategy disguised their intentions and gave them the freedom to grow and fortify. He explains the political consequences for the clan, now divided by the new religion, they can no longer act as one (Chapter 20). Without strength in unity, the Ibo are vulnerable to further encroachment of British control in their other institutions .
As only a small number of Ibo initially converted to Christianity, the church was only able to establish itself firmly in the villages because of the Ibo’s religious tolerance (Chapter 2, 22). Mr Brown learns about Ibo religion and his willful blindness to its complexity shows how the colonizers justified their colonial rule and imposition through labelling their subjects ‘primitive’ . Mr Brown understands that Christianity held no appeal for people well integrated in Ibo society, concluding that “a frontal attack on it would not succeed” (p.132) and thus introduces education as a new method of cultural displacement and erasure . Additionally, trade also increased the Ibo’s dependence on the introduced economy (Chapter 21).
From the very first introduction of the colonizers we understand that violence and fear were tools of oppression and dominance , forcing the Ibo to submit and keeping them unresisting (Chapter 15, 20, 23). Not only do the British impose foreign rule on the Ibo and judge them by standards they do not recognize, the District Commissioner’s personal brand of ‘justice’ is corrupt and hypocritical. When the elders are arbitrarily and falsely imprisoned, he tells them that what they have done “must not happen in the dominion of our queen” (p.141), combining personal corruption with a state apparatus of paternalism, hegemony, and occupation (Chapter 20, 23).
Dogmatic zealot, Reverend Smith, encourages fanaticism in his converts, motivating them to insult and humiliate the clan (Chapter 22). Under Reverend Smith’s wrathful guidance, the colonial agenda becomes transparently aggressive . The grief and pathos of the Ibo’s situation and collective trauma is displayed evocatively in the final episodes as Achebe depicts this painful moment of acute crisis (Chapter 22, 23, 24, 25).
A recurring thematic question in Things Fall Apart is to what degree the collapse of the Ibo and the downfall of Okonkwo are due to their own internal weaknesses or the whims of a pernicious fate .
The Ibo understand fate to be in a dynamic and somewhat ambiguous relationship with personal agency . This is evident in their proverb “when a man says yes his chi says yes also” (p.20) which acknowledges and privileges the role of an individual’s choices in shaping their destiny (Chapter 4). The saying “as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him” (p.135) also relates this idea – fate is a response to one’s behaviour. Okonkwo is warned that killing Ikemefuna, his surrogate son, is the “kind of action for which the goddess wipes out whole families” (p.49).This demonstrates the clan’s belief that the goddess’s (or fate’s) punishments are not arbitrary but the result of individual action (Chapter 8).
Although there is an element of chance in Okonkwo’s gun accidentally exploding and killing someone, his exile carries the suggestion of just comeuppance in its echo of the guns failure to shoot when purposely aimed at Ekwefi (Chapter 5, 13). Likewise, although the arrival of the Christians was unexpected and chanced, Nwoye’s rejection of his father is traceable directly to Okonkwo’s choice to kill Ikemefuna (Chapter 7). The desertion of people injured by Ibo traditions is a blow to the clan that feels equally earned (Chapters 16, 17, 18).
After his exile, Okonkwo believes his chi has turned against him (Chapter 14). He renunciates the wisdom of his elders by denying the active role he had in directing the course of events. His refusal to reflect on the connection between his actions and punishment reflect his fatal flaws: hubris and willful lack of self-knowledge. By refusing to self-analyze and self-correct, Okonkwo loses the opportunity of redemption. Comparably, the Ibo, despite believing in a relationship between action and fate, do not reflect on the cause of their kinsmen’s desertion to Christianity. Achebe provides numerous examples of the clan’s dogma and brutal traditions denying people such as Ikemefuna or twins control over their lives (Chapter 2, 7). It was the shortcomings of the Ibo social and religious order that made members susceptible to the attraction of a competing value system with a more articulated concept of individuality. The Ibo’s cultural lack of self-apprehension meant they could not adjust their traditions to save themselves .
However, just as Achebe shows how individuals in the clan are at the mercy of rigid overarching authority, he shows how the fateful forces of history constrain human agency . The British’s hostile intention to erase and supplant the Ibo way of life is a punishment greater than the Ibo deserve and a force stronger than they can rise to. In his description of the grief and trauma of colonial imposition, Achebe demonstrates his compassion and sorrow for the Ibo as they faced the sweeping and unforgiving forces of change in their moment of historical crisis .
Sample Essay Topics
1. "Things Fall Apart demonstrates how the values and customs of a society help us to deal with the familiar but not with change." Discuss.
2. "Traditional ideas of honour dominate Okonkwo's life and finally they destroy him." Discuss.
3. "Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories his mother used to tell." How does Achebe explore masculinity in Things Fall Apart ?
Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go. For more sample essay topics, head over to our Things Fall Apart Study Guide to practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!
A+ Essay Topic Breakdown
Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .
Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:
Step 1: A nalyse
Step 2: B rainstorm
Step 3: C reate a Plan
Let's look at an essay prompt in this video below:
In Things Fall Apart , women suffer the most and are victimised by men. Discuss.
Whenever you are breaking a prompt down. Ask yourself...
- What are the key words/ ideas that you need to address?
- Which theme is the prompt referring to?
- Do you agree with prompt? Or do you disagree with it?
The keywords of this prompt would be women, suffer,, victimised and men. The prompt requires us to address the role of women in the text and the ways in which they suffer in a society that is pervaded by patriarchal values. It also asks us, ‘Who is to blame?’ Are men solely responsible for the maltreatment or are there other causes to their suffering? The word ‘most’ in this prompt is actually there to give us a bit of room for discussion. Yes, women do suffer, but do they suffer the most? Or do men suffer as well?
Now that we’ve thought about the prompt, we can move on to the second step of the THINK part of the THINK and EXECUTE technique. To find out more about this unique strategy, I’d recommend downloading a free sample of our How to Write a Killer Text Response eBook!
Now, before we write our ideas in beautiful topic sentences, it’s often easier to simplify everything first. One way to do this is to work out whether the paragraph agrees or disagrees with the prompt at hand. We could follow this structure…
Yes, the prompt is true because X Yes, another reason it is true is X While it is true, it is limited by X
By elucidating the ways in which women are seen as inferior to their male counterparts, the writer establishes his critique on a society that victimises and oppresses women. From the outset of the book, Okonkwo is characterised as a violent man who ‘rules his household with a heavy hand’, placing his wives in perpetual fear. The frequent beating and violence fortifies the portrayal of him as a man who is governed by his hatred of ‘gentility and idleness’, further showing the terror that his wives are forced to be living in.
"Do what you are told woman. When did you become one of the ndichie (meaning elders) of Umuofia?"
He also sees his wife’s mere act of questioning as disrespect, as evidenced through the ways in which he implies that she is overstepping her role.
“There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe like outsiders"
This simile also shows how women are often marginalised and treated as outcasts, underlining the overarching yearning for social justice throughout the text. This pitiful image of women looking ‘on from the fringe’ also helps Achebe relay his criticism of gender double standards and the unfairness that Igbo women are forced to live with. Achebe’s sympathy for women’s suffering and condemnation of men’s mistreatment towards are also evident through his depiction of a society that normalises misogyny.
‘His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops… Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crops’
The personification of the crops, in particular, the men’s crops, the ‘yam’, being the ‘king of crops’ establishes this gender hierarchy in yet another way. More specifically, the position of men in the social hierarchy is highlighted and the negative connotation attached to the ‘women’s crops’ undermine their hard work, rendering it in significant. While women are the main victims of Igbo gendered prejudice, Achebe does not disregard the undue burden that societal expectations impose on men.
‘He was afraid of being thought weak.’
Achebe explores the burdens of unrealistic expectations that are placed on both men and women. This quote exemplifies societal expectations on men to be strong, powerful and fearless leaders who never show emotions. Achebe’s sympathies regarding these expectations show us that this is an important critique in Things Fall Apart that we can analyse.
If you find this helpful, then you might want to check out our Things Fall Apart: A Killer Text Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays (written by a 50 study scorer!) with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.
The Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response
How To Write A Killer Text Response Study Guide
How to embed quotes in your essay like a boss
How to turn your Text Response essays from average to A+
5 Tips for a mic drop worthy essay conclusion
With contributions from Lindsey Dang.
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- Learn how to brainstorm ANY essay topic and plan your essay so you answer the topic accurately
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After Darkness is currently studied in VCE English under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
1. Introduction (Plot Summary) 2. Characters and Development 3. Themes 4. Narrative Conventions/Literary Devices 5. Sample Paragraphs 6. Additional Essay Prompts and Analysis Questions to Consider 7. Tips
1. Introduction (Plot Summary)
Christine Piper’s historical fiction, After Darkness deals with suppressed fragments of the past and silenced memories. The protagonist, Dr Ibaraki, attempts to move forward with life whilst also trying to hide past confrontations as well as any remnants of his past wrongdoings and memories. The text consists of three intertwined narrative strands – Ibaraki’s past in Tokyo in 1934, his arrival in Broome in 1938 to work in a hospital there, and his arrival in a detainment camp in Loveday (South Australia) in 1942 after the outbreak of war.
2. Characters and Development
4. Narrative Conventions/Literary Devices
- ‘a mallee tree’ - Aboriginal word for water which symbolises purity, source of life 'if it’s hit by bushfire it grows back from the root with lots of branches, like all the others here. It’s a tough tree. Drought, bushfire…it’ll survive almost anything…I was struck by the ingenuity of the tree in its ability to generate and create a new shape better suited to the environment.'
- The tag with 'the character ko…[with] its loop of yellowed string...The knot at the end had left an impression on the page behind it: a small indentation, like a scar.'
- 'Felt like hell on earth'
- 'The hollow trunks of dead trees haunted its edges like lost people' - Can also link to the landscape narrative convention
- 'The scene was like a photograph, preserving the strangeness of the moment.'
Description of the hospital atmosphere where the patient next to Hayashi laid
- 'Only the windows were missing, leaving dark holes like the eyes of an empty soul'
- 'The photos reached me first. I leafed through the black and white images: swollen fingers, blistered toes, blackened faces, and grotesque, rotting flesh that shrivelled and puckered to reveal bone. The final photo depicted a child’s chubby hands, the tips of the fingers all black.' - Also foreshadowing death of his and Kayoko’s child
- 'That afternoon, the sky darkened, and the wind picked up…making the world outside opaque.'
- Middlemarch (book) which symbolises Ibaraki and Sister Bernice’s friendship as Bernice was left behind
- Robinson Crusoe
- 'Being able to conduct research in this way has delivered unparalleled knowledge, which we’ve already passed on to the army to minimise further loss of life.'
- 'You haafu fools don’t deserve the Japanese blood in you!'
- 'You bloody racist!'
- 'You fucking Emperor-worshipping pig...!'
- 'Haafu' - Derogatory, racism term used to define those who are biracial (half Japanese):
An interpretation of the language use throughout the text could be Piper’s way of humanising the Japanese people to her readers and notifying them that they also have their own culture and form of communication
Another interpretation of the language use is to show that both the Australians and Japanese are just as cruel as each other because they show no respect to one another and use language in such a brutal way
Ibaraki represents that divide where he can speak both languages, yet still, cannot voice his own opinion or stand up for himself (link to theme of silence)
- 'The void seemed to have a force of its own, drawing the meaning of the words into it.'
- 'The engine coughed into life.'
- 'snow was falling as I walked home from the station – the first snow of the season.' - Foreshadowing the storm about to come in his life
- 'A black silhouette against the fallen snow.' - Foreshadowing Kayoko’s death
5. Sample Paragraphs
'But as soon as you show a part of yourself, almost at once you hide it away.' Ibaraki’s deepest flaw in After Darkness is his failure to reveal himself. Do you agree?
Christine Piper’s historical fiction, After Darkness explores the consequences that an individual will be forced to endure when they choose to conceal the truth from their loved ones. Piper reveals that when a person fails to reveal themselves, it can eventually become a great obstacle which keeps them from creating meaningful and successful relationships. Additionally, Piper asserts that it can be difficult for an individual to confront their past and move completely forward with their present, especially if they believed their actions were morally wrong. Furthermore, Piper highlights the importance of allowing people into one’s life as a means to eliminate the build-up the feelings of shame and guilt.
Piper acknowledges that some people will find it difficult to open up to others about their past due to them accumulating a large amount of regret and guilt over time. This is the case for Ibaraki as he was involved with the ‘experiments’ when he was working in the ‘Epidemic Prevention Laboratory', in which Major Kimura sternly told him to practise ‘discretion and not talk ‘about [his] work to anybody'. The inability to confide in his wife or mother after performing illegal and mentally disturbing actions causes him to possess a brusque conduct towards others, afraid that they will discover his truth and ‘not be able to look at [him] at all'. His failure to confess his past wrongdoings shapes the majority of his life, ruining his marriage and making him feel the need ‘to escape’ from his losses and ‘start afresh'. He eventually lies to his mother by making her believe that he ‘had gone to Kayoko’s parents’ house’ for the break, avoiding any questions from being raised about his job. As a consequence, he fails to tell his family about his horrid past suggesting that he has accepted that ‘[his] life had become one that others whispered about'. Juxtaposed to Ibaraki’s stress relieving methods, Kayoko confides in her mother after she receives news of her miscarriage, highlighting that when one willingly shares their pain with loved ones, it can release the burden as well as provide them with some assistance. In contrast to this, Ibaraki’s guilty conscience indicates that he will take ‘the secret to his grave', making it extremely difficult for people he encounters to understand him and form a meaningful connection with him. Nonetheless, Piper does not place blame on Ibaraki as he was ordered to keep the ‘specimen’ business hidden from society, thereby inviting her readers to keep in mind that some individuals are forced by others to not reveal their true colours for fear of ruining a specific reputation.
Throughout the journey in After Darkness , Piper engendered that remaining silent about one’s past events that shapes their future is one of the deepest flaws. She notes that for people to understand and form bonds with one another, it is extremely important to reveal their identity as masking it only arises suspicions. Piper postulates that for some, memories are nostalgic; whereas, for others it carries an unrelenting burden of guilt, forcing them to hide themselves which ultimately becomes the reason as to why they feel alone in their life.
6. Additional Essay Prompts and Analysis Questions to Consider
- Analyse the role of silence in After Darkness . Compare the ways in which the characters in the text utilise or handle silence. What is Piper suggesting about the notion of silence?
- Discuss the importance of friendship in the text. What is it about friends that make the characters appear more human? How can friendship bolster development in one’s character?
- Racism and nationalism are prominent themes in the text. How are the two interlinked? Explore the ways they are shown throughout the text and by different characters. Is Piper indicating that the two always lead to negative consequences?
- Analyse some of the narrative conventions (imagery, simile, metaphor, symbols, motifs, landscapes, language, etc.) in the novel and what they mean to certain characters and to the readers.
- Explore the ways in which the text emphasises that personal conscience can oftentimes hold people back from revealing their true thoughts and feelings.
- Character transformation (bildungsroman) is prevalent throughout the text. What is Piper suggesting through Ibaraki’s character in terms of the friendships and acquaintances he has formed and how have they impacted him? How have these relationships shaped him as a person in the past and present? Were such traits he developed over time beneficial for himself and those around him or have they caused the destruction of once healthy relationships?
If you'd like to see how to break down an essay topic, you might like to check out our After Darkness Essay Topic Breakdown blog post!
- Be sure to read as many academic articles as you can find in relation to the text in order to assist you with in-depth analysis when writing your essays. This will help you to stand out from the crowd and place you in a higher standing compared to your classmates as your ideas will appear much more sophisticated and thought-out.
- Being clear and concise with the language choices is such a crucial factor. Don’t over complicate the ideas you are trying to get across to your examiners by incorporating ‘big words’ you believe will make your writing appear of higher quality, because in most cases, it does the exact opposite (see Why Using Big Words in VCE Essays Can Make You Look Dumber ). Be careful! If it's a choice between using simpler language that your examiners will understand vs. using more complex vocabulary where it becomes difficult for the examiners to understand what you're trying to say, the first option is best! Ideally though, you want to find a balance between the two - a clearly written, easy to understand essay with more complex vocabulary and language woven into it.
- If there is a quote in the prompt, be sure to embed the quote into the analysis, rather than making the quote its own sentence. You only need to mention this quote once in the entire essay. How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss has everything you need to know for this!
If you'd like to see sample A+ essays complete with annotations on HOW and WHY the essays achieved A+, then you'll definitely want to check out our After Darkness Study Guide ! In it, we also cover advanced discussions on topics like structural features and context, completely broken down into easy-to-understand concepts so you can smash your next SAC or exam! Check it out here .
Stories We Tell is a different beast to anything many of you will have encountered previously in your English studies. This blog is a continuation of the above Stories We Tell YouTube video so make sure you watch it first!
With interviews, archival footage, extradiegetic film and sound elements alongside recreated scenes, the documentary can seem very overbearing and convoluted upon first viewing. However, once you have a holistic understanding of the text a plethora of opportunity for high-level analysis and discussion presents itself. Stories We Tell is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
To begin, watch our introduction covering background and themes below:
Stories We Tell centres around director Sarah Polley attempting to piece together her family history. While she endeavours to understand who her mother Diane was and finally learn the identity of her biological father, Director Polley also poses a number of questions to viewers surrounding the nature of the truth and the importance of stories in our lives. The film is comprised of interviews with Diane’s loved ones, home movies from the Polley family, extra-diegetic newspaper clippings, recreated Super 8 footage and excerpts from other productions - all of which contribute to Sarah’s inquisition into the notion of truth, and demonstration that how a story is told can shape how it is received.
NB: I have used ‘Sarah’ when discussing Sarah Polley as a character, and ‘Polley’ when describing her as the director.
The idea of the truth, and what comprises it is a constant question being answered through the documentary. Before exploring Polley’s depiction of the truth, it’s important that we fully understand what the truth is. One definition characterises it as the burden of confirming with fact or reality, and with this in mind it becomes easier to appreciate and analyse the intricacies of Stories We Tell . Polley creates a distinction between universal truths - which are accepted by all as fact, and subjective truths which can vary on individual interpretations. For example, Michael conflicts with the rest of the family while discussing his relationship with Sarah after Diane’s passing. Mark details Michael’s obsession with “playing solitaire” , Susy depicts the house as one of “complete and utter disuse” , while Joanna observed him “smoking all day” and perceived Sarah as “just a little kid who nobody was looking after.” Michael, however, has fond memories of his time spent with Sarah - he believed he was “lucky to have her to look after as well as himself” , called their time together a “great period” - eventuating in him feeling “closer to [Sarah] than any of the other children.”
Individual recollections of Michael’s actions and demeanor during this period belong to each storyteller, and form the basis for what they consider to be the ‘truth’ regarding Michael and Sarah’s relationship. By presenting contrasting accounts of the same event, Polley reveals her stance on the idea of truth - being that it is entirely subjective and open to interpretation, centred around the perceptions of each individual at any moment in time. It is entirely possible that Michael did “smoke all day” and feel a sense of increased “close[ness]” with Sarah, but due to the variability of the human memory, this is impossible to state with any certainty - illustrating the fallible nature of universal truths.
Stories and how they are told are a constant factor during the documentary - beginning with the title, ‘ Stories We Tell’ and concluding with Geoff’s admission that he and Diane did sleep together during their days acting in Montreal. For example, Polley’s use of the inclusive ‘we’ signifies her interest in storytelling on a grand scale; not merely the stories she unravels onscreen. As a result, one can argue that her purpose for the documentary extends far beyond the action captured onscreen and in fact involves Polley encouraging others to share their own stories - enabling them to “create shape out of mess” as she has done through the presentation of her own family story.
By placing Geoff’s confession at the conclusion of the documentary (and casting doubt on all of the discoveries she has made throughout Stories We Tell) Polley emphasises how storytelling allows a “clearer picture” of the past to develop - as he had previously denied any sexual history with Diane, labelling them just friends. As such his admission of a relationship with her symbolises the manner in which the truth can be “refracted” over time, leading to many “shifts and fictions” while clouding “what really happened.” Therefore, Polley reveals how storytelling can provide some semblance of closure to us, in a world where the truth is “ephemeral” and “difficult to pin down.”
While Polley undoubtedly utilises Stories We Tell to express her views on truth and storytelling, fundamentally it remains a story of the Polley family, and what holds it together. The narrative begins with the ‘storytellers’ providing loving, yet somewhat conflicting recollections of Diane as Polley seeks to understand who she was. Family members buoyantly describe her as “infectious” and “enthusiastic” , while friends paint a more mysterious picture of Diane as a “woman of secrets” , alluding to her alleged infidelity. The closeness of the Polley family is evident throughout their discussion of Diane’s first marriage, universally criticising the outcome of the court case in which she was labeled “ unrepentant ” for “ allow[ing] her desire for a career to overtop her “domestic duties” - resulting in Diane losing custody of John and Susy, which proved to be a major strain on Diane and the family.
Despite this closeness, Mark expresses his disappointment in Diane following the confirmation of Harry being Sarah’s father - detailing the she “broke the rules” and “broke a kind of taboo” when she had the affair. This is the only real example of any member of the family disapproving of Diane’s past - indicating Polley’s desire to demonstrate that families are not perfect, and bring their own faults and shortcomings. In spite of this, however, their care the family shows for one another is clearly demonstrated through their interviews with Polley, highlighting to the audience that by staying close, families can better cope with the trauma of losing a loved one and in time, be able to honour their memory by sharing their stories.
Putting it all together
While analysing the themes in isolation can provide a good foundation for success studying Stories We Tell , looking at how they interact and interrelate enables students to demonstrate their higher-order skills. Truth, storytelling and family are intrinsically linked - for example: Polley’s presentation of conflicting accounts and recollections of Diane demonstrates the complexity of her family, while showcasing her stance on the inability of individuals to find universal truths. As a result of this, the importance of storytelling is highlighted as a means to provide some understanding of our past - and how it affects us in the present and shapes who we are. Including different interpretations of the text and the context in which Polley grew up and created the text can also help to improve your writing to A+ standard - and this will be covered in the blog post that acts as a continuation of this video! *end video*
Following on from the video, the content below is an expansion upon Stories We Tell .
Author views and values
One of the golden rules of A+ essay writing is to understand that everything contained within the text is seen to be a deliberate choice by the author. With this in mind, we can start considering how Polley’s choice to include certain snippets or position footage in a particular way highlights her views.
The truth is ephemeral - can it ever be known?
Throughout Stories We Tell , Polley continually emphasises the impossibility of knowing a truth with absolute certainty. Her stance is shaped by the clouded nature of her paternity and family history, exemplified within the text by the varying accounts of Diane’s personality. Portraying her as “infectious” and “enthusiastic”, Polley captures Diane dancing - cleverly lighting up her face, thus symbolising her warm nature. However, juxtaposing this is Deidre’s assertion that Diane was a “woman of secrets” - bolstered by Polley’s recreation of a covert phone call in which Diane ponders the identity of Sarah’s biological father. Through her presentation of contrasting recollections of her mother, Director Polley showcases the relativity of truth within her own family, inviting the audience to question the meaning of truth in their own lives, highlighting that “you can never get to an answer.” As a result, Stories We Tell predominantly displays the impossibility of one knowing a singular truth.
Subjective truths can be found
Continuing the theme of ambiguity within her synthetic documentary, Sarah Polley demonstrates that individuals can develop their own interpretations of the truth, in spite of her stance on the validity of singular truths. Within Stories We Tell, Polley illustrates this by depicting the contrasting recollections of Michael’s relationship with Sarah as a child. Supporting Joanna’s assertion that Sarah was “just a little kid that nobody was looking after”, Polley ironically captures a full shot of Michael in the middle of the couch, portraying him as a distinctive presence in the scene in spite of Joanna’s belief that Michael isn’t present in Sarah’s life. Conversely, Michael recalls his time with Sarah as “a great period in [his] life” - a claim reinforced by Polley, via recreated Super 8 footage of the pair assembling a snowman, symbolising their construction of a new beginning following Diane’s death. Through this interaction, Polley portrays Michael as a compassionate and loving father - juxtaposing this with Joanna’s description, revealing to her audience the ability of individuals to find subjective truths - encouraging them to do so in their own lives in spite of searching for universal truths.
The importance of stories
Building on her depiction of the truth as fallible, Polley thus emphasises our need to tell stories, illustrating how they allow one to better understand themselves, their families and the world around them. Within Stories We Tell, unearthing the ‘story’ of Diane takes centre stage for a majority of the production, and Polley hints towards this goal via her inclusion of Bon Iver’s folk ballad Skinny Love. The line “pour a little salt, we were never here” plays on the use of salt to heal wounds - implying that the storytellers aim to ‘heal’ their pain felt from Diane’s death via telling “the whole story” they have developed from their memories of her. Moreover, the phrase “who the hell was I” addresses Polley’s attempt to “form [Diane]” by piecing together the various second hand accounts and layers of connected stories from her loved ones - allowing her to ascertain a clearer understanding of her family history. Polley utilises stories to “[clear] up...the smoke” in her past,” praising the idea that such tales shed a light on areas of confusion and uncertainty - while also allowing one to “[cope]” and make sense of their heritage. Through her demonstration that stories enable individuals to move past the “small and large details that vary”, Polley prompts the audience to seek more information about their own families, and relay their own family stories.
Throughout the documentary, Polley demonstrates, both explicitly and implicitly, a number of her inherent values. Drawing upon these, referring to them in your essays and (most importantly!) connecting them to your analysis of the text is a great way to get ahead of the pack and maximise your marks both in your sac and the exam.
NB: Much of the excerpts contained here are analysing specific scenes/motifs, and then linking such thinking to the theories listed below. I found this to be a coherent and structured way of including this deeper level of thinking in the publication of my own essays!
Feminist lens on the social values of 1960’s Canada
By depicting extradiegetic footage of Diane singing Ain’t Misbehavin, Director Polley provides a feminist commentary on the dominant social values of 1960’s Canada; the lyrics “I walk the streets to balance the sheets” and “what is an honest girl to do” metaphorically representing the perception of Diane by the court and wider society - denied “custody” of her children due to her “adultery.”
By inserting a newspaper clipping criticising Diane’s choice to let her “desire for a career” to supercede her “domestic duties”, Polley illustrates the difficulties faced by aspirational women in such a restrictive society - condemning the treatment of her mother while calling on female viewers to continually campaign for equality of opportunity in their societies.
Outlining the fact that Diane was not considered “ladylike”, Polley sardonically ridicules the “controlling” nature of such rigid gender stereotypes and their effect on Diane losing her children - exhibiting her desire to empower her female audience to “save [themselves]” from similar situations and “ma[ke] a choice to live.”
Postmodernist interpretation of the truth
As I’ve discussed at length in this blog post, Polley continually reminds us as an audience that the truth is not set in stone and is in fact a flexible, relative concept. Such a line of thinking directly correlates to the postmodernism literary theory - notable for being hostile to absolutes such as truth, and not creating a text in isolation.
Polley continually blurs the line between fact and fiction within Stories We Tell - an ode to the postmodernist school of thought she is following. Depicting recreated Super-8 footage capturing herself directing the actress Rebecca Jenkins who ‘plays’ the ‘role’ of the younger Diane, Polley seeks to somewhat deceive her audience as to what is real and what is derivative - prompting the audience to “consider what was real and what wasn’t… in their own minds.” As a result, she seeks to promote the validity of the postmodernist critical theory, prompting philosophical discussions between individuals about the variability of memory and whether any absolute truths can ever be truly known.
Another feature of postmodernism in literature is the relationship between one text to another. In her creation of Stories We Tell , Sarah Polley exacerbates this relationship, including a number of extradiegetic elements such as newspaper clippings, emails, songs and segments from other productions in order to add greater meaning to the documentary. For example, Polley presents her email exchange with Harry, illustrating her desire for the story to include “everyone’s point of view”, as it is only then that the “whole picture” can be established. While reciting the email aloud, Polley delicately pauses when articulating that the story must include “[her] experience, [Harry’s] experience” and her “family’s [experience]”, emphasising her desire to give “equal weight” to all versions of the story.
In my experience studying the text, this documentary can be interpreted two ways:
1. as a self-reflective memoir following the journey of Sarah finding her father and gaining a more mature understanding of her mother, or;
2. A philosophical and, at-times political commentary on the way stories are told and the nature of truth. Both interpretations (and others you find or develop through your own viewing) are great to use in your writing, just ensure that they are relevant to the specific prompt/idea you are discussing!
Let's dive into each a little further:
1. Stories We Tell is a commentary on how stories are told - specifically, how the way a story is told can shape how it is received and the meaning one can draw from it
Upon first glance this point may seem rather convoluted, and several viewings of the text are necessary to fully engage with this line of thinking. Essentially, this centres around the idea that the different forms, mediums and extradiegetic elements present in the documentary can significantly influence how we as an audience react to the story that is being told.
The best way to explain this is to acknowledge the level of credibility and the associations attached to each individual medium used to tell the story.
For example, what impact does the newspaper clipping (detailing her custody battle and fight for equality in a restrictive society) have on our sympathy for Diane? Does the sense of credibility and validity drawn from an upstanding publication such as a newspaper elicit a greater sense of trust and acceptance of fact from viewers - therefore making us as an audience more inclined to view her in a positive light? Conversely, are viewers more accepting of Diane’s affair with Harry following testimony from those who witnessed her unhappiness with Michael first hand - her friends and family?
Moreover, in spite of her declaration that “equal weight” will be given to all experiences, does Polley’s use of Michael as narrator and his constant presence in the formal setting of a recording studio provide his version greater significance than Harry’s - who notwithstanding his involvement in the story as Sarah’s biological father, is resigned to providing his interview somewhat informally in a home setting, in the same vein as the rest of the storytellers?
Feel free to apply this line of thinking to other aspects of the text - such a deeper engagement with the philosophical ideas of the text are far more likely to score highly, as opposed to shallow pieces that merely discuss the storytellers in isolation - and not what they represent.
2. Stories We Tell is a commentary on the ephemeral nature of truth
The notion of truth seems to be just as much of a theme through this blog as it is in the documentary!
This is for good reason, however, as I found this to be the primary theme running through Stories We Tell , through the journey to discover Sarah’s paternity, the affair and conflict over whose story it is to tell. Truth affects a number of other ideas within the texts, such as storytelling, intertextuality, the variability of memory, production and identity - thus, using the ephemeral nature of the truth to explain why certain ambiguities exist in Harry’s “faulty” recollections, for example is an excellent way to show a greater depth of understanding of the interrelationships in the documentary.
Essay Topic Breakdown
Essay topic from the 2018 vcaa exam:.
“To save all hurt, why not leave things as they are?”
Why does Sarah not “leave things as they are?”
This prompt does not ask you to discuss a specific theme or character - instead it guides you toward providing an analysis on Sarah Polley’s purpose for creating Stories We Tell. While authorial intent should always be included in any text response essay, it is essential that the purpose is central in response to this type of prompt - essentially, providing points of discussion as to why Sarah is unable to “leave things as they are.”
1. Unable to leave things as they are - wanted to question the concept of traditional family structures, by contrasting the influence of biological connections and emotional relationships on her development.
I discussed the effect of both Harry and Michael on Sarah’s development - concluding that while both of them had a significant role to play in her becoming the woman she is today, Michael’s influence was significantly stronger. Polley implies this by giving him a greater voice in the documentary through his role as the narrator.
2. Unable to leave things as they are - wanted to comment on the ephemeral nature of the truth in our lives.
Central to this paragraph is Polley’s use of recreated Super-8 footage. Using three prime examples (the opening scene with Diane and Michael crossing the bridge, Polley directing the actress that ‘plays the role’ of Diane in recreated footage, and the staging of Diane’s funeral) I aim to display Polley’s postmodern perspective on the truth and how this is conveyed through her deliberate creation of Stories We Tell.
3. Unable to leave things as they are - Emphasise the importance of storytelling in our lives to gain some understanding of the past.
Due to her depiction of the truth as a “mystery of nothingness”, Polley highlights the role that stories play in our lives. Within Stories We Tell, Polley attempts to understand herself by recreating Diane’s story on screen - allowing her to create “shape out of mess” and form a clearer picture of how she became who she is. Moreover, Polley also reveals how stories enable individuals to maneuver through the “wreckage” of the truth and “recreate the past.”
Last updated 20/10/19
Planning is an essential part of any successful text response essay. It helps you ensure that you’re answering the prompt, utilising enough quotes and writing the most unique and perceptive analysis possible! The hard part of this is that you only have about FIVE MINUTES to plan each essay in the Year 12 English exam… (more info on the best way to tackle that challenge in this video !)
So, I developed the FIVE TYPES of essay prompts to help students streamline their planning process and maximise every minute of their SACs and exams.
By identifying the type of prompt you’re being challenged with immediately, a number of parameters or guidelines are already set in place. For a specific type of prompt, you have specific criteria to meet – for example, in a metalanguage-based prompt , you immediately know that any evidence you brainstorm in your planning stage should be based around the literary techniques used in your given text.
If you’d like the full picture on our best FREE advice on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response here .
1. Theme-Based Prompt
‘Ambition in the play Macbeth leads to success.’ Discuss. ( Macbeth )
When you’re presented with a theme-based prompt, you can automatically shift your brainstorming and planning towards the themes mentioned in the prompt along with any others that you can link to the core theme in some way.
In regard to this Macbeth prompt, for example, you could explore the different ways the theme of ambition is presented in the text. Additionally, the themes of guilt and power are intimately related to ambition in the text, so you can use those other ideas to aid your brainstorming and get you a step ahead of the rest of the state come exam day.
2. Character-Based Prompt
‘Frankenstein’s hubris is what punishes him.’ Discuss. ( Frankenstein )
These prompts are pretty easy to spot – if you see a character’s name in the prompt, there you have it; you have a character-based prompt on your hands.
Once you know this, you can assume that each example you brainstorm has to be relevant to the specific character named in the prompt in some way. Also, you can explore how the actions of characters don’t occur in isolation – they’re almost always interrelated. Remember, however, that the actions of characters are always connected to the themes and ideas the author is trying to convey.
This type of prompt also grants you some freedoms that other types don’t give. For example, unlike a Theme-based prompt, a character-based prompt means that it’s perfectly fine to write about characters in the topic sentences of your body paragraphs.
3. How-Based Prompt
‘How does Grenville showcase Rooke’s inner conflict in The Lieutenant ?’ ( The Lieutenant )
Unlike other prompts, the ‘How’ positions you to focus more on the author’s writing intentions. This can be achieved by discussing metalanguage – language that describes language (read my blog post about it here ). These prompts tell you immediately that you need to be thinking about the literary techniques explored in the text and explain how they affect the narrative.
Rather than using specific techniques to frame your specific arguments, it’s best to use them as evidence to support arguments that attack the main themes/ideas mentioned in the prompt.
4. Metalanguage or Film-Technique-Based Prompt
‘Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience’. Discuss. ( Rear Window )
This type of prompt is very similar to How-based prompts, specifically in the fact that the discussion of literary techniques is essential.
For this type of prompt specifically, however, the actual techniques used can form more of a basis for your arguments, unlike in How-based prompts .
5. Quote-Based Prompt
“Out, damned spot!” How does Shakespeare explore the burden of a guilty conscience in Macbeth ? ( Macbeth )
Countless students ask me every year, “What do I do when there’s a quote in the prompt?!” My reply to these questions is actually fairly straightforward!
There are two main things that you should do when presented with this type of prompt. Firstly, contextualise the quote in your essay and try to use it in your analysis in some way. Secondly, interpret the themes and issues addressed in the quote and implement these into your discussion. The best place to do both of these is in a body paragraph – it weaves in seamlessly and allows for a good amount of analysis, among other reasons!
When faced with unknown prompts in a SAC or your exam, it's reassuring to have a formulaic breakdown of the prompt so that your brain immediately starts categorising the prompt - which of the 5 types of prompts does this one in front of me fall into? To learn more about brainstorming, planning, essay structures for Text Response, read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
To stand out, it’s important to have a voice. In writing, it’s the expression of your thoughts, beliefs and emotions on the page that gives the reader insight into your own personal opinions and ideas on a topic. Your writer’s voice is unique to you and therefore presents your work as original amongst the multitude of essays examiners receive. In order to find your unique voice, it’s important to pinpoint the ideas that interest you that would allow you to write in the most authentic manner. Your distinctive style of writing and the concepts you present will allow you to stand out amongst your peers and thus, will ensure you reach your optimum standard of work.
Read and Explore
In order to expand your knowledge of a certain text, explore articles and videos that present alternate views. This allows you to not only expand the depth of your ideas but additionally, the opportunity to find opinions that you relate to or those that interest you. The more you explore the ideas that exist, the more you will obtain an inclination about what concepts you’d be willing to write about.
Understand the Characters in Text Response
Although it may be difficult to decipher the motives behind characters or the emotions they are feeling at a certain point in the text, insight into the minds of characters provides you with the opportunity to move beyond a black or white perception of them. Hence, you’ll be more inclined to pinpoint certain aspects of the character that you identify with and in turn, feel more confident in writing and presenting a unique perspective on them that distances you from the expected responses.
Themes of a Text
Within a text, there are an abundance of themes and it’s up to you to choose which interest you and which you’d be able to write the most about in order to showcase the depth of your understanding. You may relate to subjects within a text such as grief or betrayal and therefore, when you explore the text focusing on these themes, your writing will reflect your beliefs in an individual way that separates your ideas from your cohorts.
Whilst language analysis relies on presenting an objective essay on the intention of the author, your voice will be shown more clearly by your chosen techniques and analysis. By pinpointing words or phrases within an article that you feel stand out or interest you within the context of the piece, you’ll be more likely to write an in-depth analysis on how the author has used the words or phrases to encourage consideration or prompt guilt as examples rather than provide a short summary of what they have said.
Amongst the thousands of students completing VCE English, it’s important to set yourself apart and demonstrate that you’ve got creative and original ideas that bring a new perspective to the text whilst allowing you to enjoy and find interest in Year 12 English.
The most overlooked aspect of English is probably the actual reading of your English novel. Shockingly, there are some students who believe that they can still do well in English without reading their texts – but that’s a topic for another blog post. Since VCE is about strategy, you should think about how you can maximise your learning while minimising the time spent reading. Some students only read their text once, while others read up to 5 or 6 times! For some one reading may be sufficient but in most circumstances it is definitely not enough. Conversely, reading more than 5 times might be a bit excessive. After asking ex-VCE students who have excelled in English, the overall consensus is that you should read your text 3 times before the English exam. Here’s why:
Reading 1 : The first reading should be done in the holidays prior to your school year. Yes, it is during the holidays but you will be thankful you started early when you’re in the middle of numerous SACs, assignments and homework during the year. You should take your time with the first reading in order to let the information soak in. Focus on exposing yourself to the characters and themes. Since many essay topics are based on characters or themes, this will help you foresee the types of prompts you’ll be asked. If it is a more difficult text to understand (such as Shakespeare), rather than pushing through your reading and trying to understand the plot, have a look at study guides first in order to gain a better understanding from the outset.
Reading 2 : This should be done while you are studying your text at school. Using the new information taught in class (such as character, theme, context and metalanguage analysis), a second reading will help you build on the knowledge from your first reading. During the reading, you should start to take note of key passages and draw out important quotes. This will set you up for the SAC and mean that you have read your text twice before your SAC.
Reading 3 : Your third and final reading is to be completed before your English exam. An ideal time is the term 3 holidays. Since it may have been a while since you studied the text, the third reading is crucial for knowledge consolidation. You should watch out for things that you missed during first two readings – usually small pieces of information that are unique and when used in essays, will separate you from other students. These include: not-so-popular quotes, passages that haven’t been discussed in class, fleeting descriptions of characters etc. Remember that the best essays involve interesting and original discussion of the text.
Reading 1 : Initial exposure to the text and an idea of what prompts may be asked in SACs and the English exam.
Reading 2 : Essential for identifying key details for SAC preparation.
Reading 3 : Vital for consolidation prior to the English exam and finding information that will distinguish yourself from other students.
So with this in mind, figure out how you will approach your readings throughout the year, and most importantly – get started early!
Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.
There are a plethora of controversial issues in the current Australian media that may be perfect for your 2017 oral presentation! Below are just a few ideas to get you started on your way towards acing that SAC. Remember, pick a topic that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about. Don’t forget that there is no ‘right’ opinion, however, make sure you offer a distinctive argument, even if it means adopting an alternative point of view. Good luck!
- Should the Australian Government ban the wearing of the burka in public?
- Should the homeless be banned from Melbourne’s CBD? (Robert Doyle proposal)
- Should the Australia Government continue to fund the Safe Schools Coalition?
- Should gay marriage be legalised in Australia?
- Should the date of Australia Day be replaced/changed?
- Treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres (especially women and children)
- Is enough action being taken to diminish the sugar industry propaganda to minimise obesity?
- Should on – site pill testing be mandatory at all public events?
- Cultural insensitivity in Australia
- Is the development of technology and social media encouraging narcissism in young adults?
- Victoria’s legal system
- Stem cell research
- Is the development of technology and social media encouraging the sexualisation of boys and girls?
- Drug testing and drug control in Australia (Bourke Street attack)
- Fake news being published by researchers to the media
- Should Victoria’s juvenile justice system be improved by the Government?
- Do students learn as effectively with ebooks compared with traditional, hardcopy books?
- Should security footage of detention centres be released?
- Is Australia becoming an alcohol and sugar driven society?
- Has the notion of privacy been compromised in the 21st century? (internet, technology, terrorism)
Before you start writing your oral presentation, you can't miss our A+ tips that have helped hundreds of students get perfect marks in their SAC. Stand out from others with confidence now .
It’s time your conclusions got the attention they deserve! So grab a massive piece of chocolate, a glass of water and prepare to be taught about the beginning of the end (of your essay, that is).
Having a rushed conclusion is like forgetting to lock your car after an awesome road trip- that one rushed decision could jeopardise the whole experience for your assessor. A mediocre conclusion is the same as powering through a 500 metre race then carelessly slowing down seconds before the finish line! Dramatic comparisons aside, the way you choose to end your text response either leaves the marker with a bad taste in their mouths or increases your chance of hitting a home run. On the other hand, if you’re feeling discouraged by how your essay has shaped up to be, having a killer conclusion could set you up for a pleasant surprise.
5 Tips for a mic-drop worthy conclusion
1. make a plan for the conclusion.
It has been said many times, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and it could not be more true when it comes to crafting a killer conclusion. By setting a few minutes aside before even beginning your essay to plan everything out, you get to see the necessary elements which you will want to address in your conclusion. In simpler terms, an essay plan reminds you of your contention and your main points, so that you are able to start gathering all of your arguments and create the perfect concluding paragraph. Planning for each paragraph sets you up for a win as you begin to refine key ideas and explore the many ways of expressing them, which is crucial for a conclusion.
2. Don't tell the reader you are concluding!
Time and time again I have seen people fall into the trap of using phrases such as “in conclusion” or “in closing”. The person marking your work may be blown away by the majority of your response, then reach those rotten words and will reconsider this thought. Being this ‘obvious’ with opening a conclusion does not earn any points. In fact it’s simply not sophisticated. The main reason many students are tempted to begin in such a clumsy way is that they don’t know how to begin their conclusion. If you are having difficulty to start and experiencing a bit of writer's block, simply go back to your essay plan and start to unpack the contention - it’s that easy! Rephrase your answer to the actual essay question. In most cases, you can just cut out those nasty little words and the opening line of your conclusion will still make perfect sense.
3. Rephrase, not repeat
The definition of a conclusion is literally to “sum up an argument”, thus your last paragraph should focus on gathering all of the loose ends and rewording your thesis and all of your arguments. It’s great to reinstate what you have said throughout the body of your response but repeating the same phrases and modes of expression becomes bland and bores the reader. Instead, aim to give them a fresh outlook on the key ideas you have been trying to communicate in the previous paragraphs. All it takes is a little time to change the way you are saying key points so that the conclusion does not become tedious to read. Conclusions are there to unite all of your points and to draw a meaningful link in relation to the question initially asked.
4. Keep things short and sharp
Your closing paragraph is NOT for squeezing in one or more ‘cool’ points you have- no new points should be brought into the conclusion. You should focus on working with the arguments and ideas that have ALREADY been brought up throughout your response. Introducing new arguments in that last paragraph will cause a lack of clarity and may cause the paragraph to become lengthy. A long conclusion will slow down the momentum of your piece and the reader will begin to lose interest and become impatient. Having a clear aim before writing your conclusion will help avoid a lengthy paragraph as your final thoughts will be more concise and refined.
5. The last line is where you get to really shine
Your closing sentence is the ultimate make or break for the entire essay so it is a shame to see many responses ending awkwardly due to students running out of time or becoming lazy with that final sentence. Last words are so important but don’t spend too much time on it! One awesome way to finish is with a very well thought-out phrase which summarises your contention one last time. Imagine dropping the mic after the final sentence of your essay, your conclusion needs to be stronger.
If you need further help on Text Response (including essay structure), check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
Are you an EAL student worrying about the listening component of the new study design?
Are you worried? If you are, fear not, I am here to help!
Here are some extremely useful tips that I have acquired from completing both Japanese and Chinese listening exams. They are very applicable to the EAL exam and will hopefully make you feel more confident about this new component!
- As EAL students we are allowed to bring bilingual dictionaries into the exam, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT! You will be amazed at how useful your dictionary can be.
- Use your reading time efficiently! Take a close look at your listening tracks’ questions! Search your dictionary for tricky vocabularies that are embedded in the question. Make each second count!
- Look out for the key question words! If you spot “when” and “why” in the question, then you know for sure that you need to listen out for location and time!
- Pay attention to the tone.
- Take note of any adjectives, phrases and words that express the character’s (in the listening track) thoughts, feelings and concerns.
- There is a space in the exam paper for you to take notes, USE THAT SPACE! Write down all the key information you can possibility hear from the track! According to the examiner’s report those students who wrote notes in the space provided tend to score much more higher than those who don't.
- Don't waste time wondering what the track just played! Listen carefully for the next sentence, missing out on one piece of information is better than two!
Some of you out there might be thinking “Listening is easy! I just need to write down the correct answer, it's a piece of cake.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for EAL listening or any VCE Language listening SAC or exam. The VCAA examiners will look at the accuracy of your answer, grammar and spelling. They even look at how well you phrase your response!
If you are aiming for a perfect listening response you MUST take a look at my breakdown of the examiners’ marking criteria!
For the listening component of the exam/SAC the examiners (and your own teachers) will be marking your answers base on TWO main points
- Your ability to understand and convey general and specific parts of the listening track
- Your ability to convey information accurately and appropriately
- Appropriateness of vocabulary
- Accurate use of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Are you feeling more confident for the VCE EAL Listening section with a couple of handy hints in your pocket? I hope you are! Give it a go, it is not as scary as you think!
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Free Things Fall Apart Essays and Papers
Things Fall Apart
the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The main character, Okonkwo faces many challenges on his journey throughout his life some that were even out of his control. These events literally make his life fall apart, and eventually brought him to his death. Which had to end the way it did, at the time it did. When Okonkwo's life goes downhill, it literally fell apart. Hence the title of the novel, Things Fall Apart. The first event in his life that represented his life falling apart was when his
Kevin Mead Conflict in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe African culture is often chronically misunderstood. Beginning in the 1600s, European colonists attempted to infiltrate their ancient way of life and replace it with their own, systematically sending their District Commissioners to each populated area they had gained control of, effectively washing the region of its identity. In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, he attempts to break down a wall of ignorance and misinformation that
things fall apart
Chinua Achebe is the author of Things Fall Apart. The author was born in Nigeria in 1930 and had to grow up during a time of traditional culture clashing with Christian beliefs. He was a very intellectually gifted child, which gave him the ability to study at many different universities when he became older. Many parts of his life became included in Things Fall Apart, but the story is not an autobiography. The story has been translated into many different languages and is renowned all across the
Things Fall Apart The relationship of Okonkwo to his Igbo society in Achebe's Things Fall Apart was one of pure being. Okonkwo displayed the finest examples of human qualities of what it took to be an Igbo man. Okonkwo strives to be strong, masculine, industrious, respected, and wealthy. This was Okonkwo's inner struggle to be as different from his father as possible, who he believed to have been weak, effeminate, lazy, shameful, disgraceful, and poor. Okonkwo achieves great social and financial
In the novel Things Fall Apart the Igbo society is dominated by gender roles. For example, a Husband can beat his wives for bringing food to them late. Women are discriminated against by society. The main character in Things Fall Apart, is Okonkwo who, has trouble balancing the feminine and masculine side in his life. Okonkwo is a rich, well known, and respected warrior of the Umuofia clan, a lower Nigerian tribe that is a big part of nine connected villages. He believes that only masculinity can
“He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (Achebe 172). This is the reaction of Oberike, a respected man who lives in Umuofia recalling his hand to hand experience with the Europeans. The Europeans demanded for more resources and the desire to change Africa’s economic and political expansion. The age of imperialism began around 1700 when modern nations (Europeans) want to take over less designated areas in Africa to colonize them or to influence them with
create characters with an obvious moral standing not only to make their novel more applicable to the reader, but also to make the characters more complex and dynamic. Chinua Achebe uses this technique to develop the characters in his novel, Things Fall Apart. The main character, and protagonist in the novel, Okonkwo, is very morally dynamic showing some sensitivity to his family and friends, but in an attempting to rebel against his father, Okonkwo also exhibits the tendency to lash out violently
The book “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe is a fictional look at the social and cultural life of an African tribe of the lower Niger River region. It depicts the every day life of the tribe and its members. It also shows the culture and customs of the tribe. The book focuses on one of the tribe members, Okonkwo. He is a well respected member of the tribe. Okonkwo is a good example of a respected member of the tribe who also has great renown. He is known as a great wrestler and warrior of the
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe?s Things Fall Apart is a narrative story that follows the life of an African man called Okonkwo. The setting of the book is in eastern Nigeria, on the eve of British colonialism in Africa. The novel illustrates Okonkwo?s struggles, triumphs, and his eventual downfall, all of which basically coincide with the Igbo?s society?s struggle with the Christian religion and British government. In this essay I will give a biographical account of Okonwo, which will serve to
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earth, the victim could not be buried in their bowels. 2 We also see many examples of practices that take place in the Igbo such as the sharing... ... middle of paper ... ...longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart. 12 The motivation that drove Europeans to make free use of terminology such as “barbarians” or “savages” was for religious reasons itself. Although I personally do not support nor condemn the actions and practices that take
many parts to them. The most important is the sole. When walking in someone else’s shoes, it’s like taking a look into their soul. You get to see what they are enduring and can get a better understanding of their life. Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart is a great example. When the white missionaries invaded the clan, they didn’t take the time to dig deep into the lives of the Ibo. This created havoc in the Ibo society. In history, there are many other instances where understanding someone
In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart the life of a man named Okonkwo and the tribe of Umuofia is depicted in three chapters which each represent a significant era in the tribe. In the first chapter, Achebe describes the life of the native African tribe before the coming of the white man. This chapter enables the reader to understand and respect the life of the Igbo. The second chapter describes the beginnings of colonialism and introduction of the white man. Suddenly, the Igbo way is questioned
Things Fall Apart is a story written by Chinua Achebe based on a culture on the verge of change. Okonkwo is a well-respected, wealthy leader in the Umuofia tribe of the Igbo people. Okonkwo feared of being like his father who is well known for his laziness also cowardice. In such early age he brought honor to his village, he built his home, was a precocious wrestler and a hard-working farmer. Okonkwo was nothing like his father Unkoka who feared the sight of blood, borrowed and lost money leaving
Things Fall Apart In James Joyce’s Dubliners, a compellation of short stories, that portrays the hardships of everyday life in Ireland during the late 1800’s. Throughout many of these stories, Joyce shows the significance of an individual’s influence on society through examples of drinking, bonding with friends, shared memories/reminiscing, anger/envy, and sexual desire. Many of Joyce’s characters use these common themes to escape the troubles they may face in their everyday responsibilities
Things Fall Apart Opposites do not Attract In Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, Mr. Brown, the first missionary in Umuofia, was a kind and respectful man. Not to say that Reverend James Smith was not, but his degree of kindness and respect were present in a whole different level. They both wanted to convert the lost, all those in Umuofia that were not in the church. Mr. Brown made friends with the clan and “trod softly on his faith,” (pg.178) while Mr. Smith told them how things were
Things Fall Apart And Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe
to be in South America. I had never really given it much though. I had never really given much thought to the life and beliefs of the different African villages. The only familiarity I have with that topic is the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Similarly, Things Fall Apart has a coming of age tale; something that I am starting to believe is very important to different African villages. In the U.S. there isn’t a set age where we become a man. We grow facial hair, finish school, get a job
A novel which is set roughly at the turn of the century, Things Fall Apart proposes the idea that the Igbo culture possessed civility prior to it’s colonization by the British. Okonkwo, a character comparable to a Greek tragic hero is a man of very little compassion for anyone, including himself. The cultural standards, his own inability to handle the changes being made in his culture, and stressed family life are all conflicts created by his society that lead to his tragic downfall. The emphasis
Things Fall Apart Things fall apart is a novel about a man by the name of Okonkwo a man that just trying to be the best he can be. He wants to be successful and not end up like his father with nothing but himself. Okonkwo is a wealthy and respected warrior of the Umuofia clan, a lower Nigerian tribe that is part of the nine connected villages, including Okonkwo’s village Iguedo. Okonkwo father Unoka was a man who feared the sight of blood and always asked for things he was never successful with
not long after they are released. Why? Isn't freedom a better alternative than imprisonment? The answer to both these questions is the same: CHANGE. Even if the change is for the better, a good number of people can't handle it. In the novel Things fall Apart, the main character Okonkwo is driven to suicide by change he can't handle. The book is written by Cinua Achebe, a twentieth century author. Born in Nigeria, Achebe grew up in a transitional culture much like the one described in the book. He
Things Fall Apart is by the widely acclaimed African author Chinua Achebe. The story told is a tragic one of a person by the name of Okonkwo who's own stubborn views about what it is to be a man leads to his own demise. Okonkwo is often compared by people to the tragic hero like those in Greek tragedies. This is probably the primary way in which the text is interpreted but I feel Achebe is trying to make another point as well through the story. Achebe received inspiration to write the novel from
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In the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, structured gender roles are depicted as a fundamental part of Igbo life. All life in the culture is gender specific from who can tend to which crops, to how punishments are dealt out. The novel’s protagonist, Okonkwo, primarily focuses on exaggerating male stereotypical behavior and devaluing anything that is feminine. The novel brings to the surface the balance that lies between masculinity and femininity. African Literature researchers such as Kwadwo Osei-Nyame, Christopher Anyokwu, and Biodun Jeyifo analyze just how the strained relationship between age-old traditions and gender play out in the Igbo culture.
While the reader is given some insight into who Okonkwo’s father is and how much he resents his father. It is noted that his mother is only briefly mentioned once throughout the whole novel, the lack of mention is significant in understanding his misogynistic character. The assumed lack of nurture is consistent with the relationship he [Okonkwo] has with his father and later his son Nwoye. In Jeyifo’s article Okonkwo and His Mother: Things Fall Apart and Issues of Gender in the Constitution of African Postcolonial Discourse, the author argues that the under-textualization of his mother led to his extensive issues of overcompensating “…[T]he single mention of Okonkwo’s mother is extraordinarily suggestive for reading Okonkwo’s particular brand of misogyny and neurotic masculinist personality and for analyzing larger questions of the author’s construction of male subjectivity and identity in the novel” (848). Growing up as the child of a man who was deemed no good by their village, Okonkwo reinvented himself to be the opposite of who his father was. Jefiyo believes that Okonkwo deliberately writes his mother off as a fundamental piece in the formation of his development as a person. He represses the memory of his mother and her stories, as well as the hold it has on his spirits. While asleep Okonkwo is bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito bites seemed to remind him of a story his mother once told. It is important to note that once he recalls the story of the mosquito and the ear he succumbs to his sleepiness. “Okonkwo’s mother is assimilated into the neutral, abstract function of ‘mothers’ in general. For him [Okonkwo], his mother’s stories and their significations evaporate into the generalized phallogocentric rubric of the “silliness” of motherlode” (Jefiyo 849). The most interesting detail coming from the story is the reversal in the structure between the female and male personas. Since this story belongs to the genre of folklore, it makes it clear why the rejection of Mosquito converts such a deep fear of female power as the downfall of male vigor and life force. The thought of a dominant female brings forth fear because they have been given the impression that the female is inferior to the male. Kwadwo Osei-Nyame argues that due to the nature of society, in no way does Okonkwo’s behavior have anything to do with his mother, but everything to do with the way those around him were conditioned.
The issue of gender roles in the story can be explained by the direct relationship of man and the Igbo culture. “Masculine traditions operate as forms of consciousness that act foremostly to legitimize specific ideals and values and to distribute and restrict authority within Umofia, one of the most powerful of Igbo communities” (150). As one of the strongest Igbo villages, Umofia is a society where all celebrated figures of male. The fragility of the male ego is the sole purpose in why this specific clan falls apart towards the end of the novel. Much of this clan’s pride is embedded in Okonkwo and his representation of the masculine ideology. Due to the clan’s negative views of his father, Okonkwo became obsessed with championing his masculinity. As he aged, he began to use his masculinity as a defensive resource and it began to overtake his world. “By constructing his identity and embedding his actions in a perverse sense in rebelliousness against everything that his father Unoka represents, Okonkwo apprehends his world pessimistically” (151). To steer clear of being branded as an agbada, the Igbo word referring to weak and lazy men, Okonkwo would assert his masculinity whenever he deemed it fit. Umofia and its inhabitants acknowledge all of Okonkwo’s feats would often align to the marginalization of their women. “[T]he selective tradition of a dominant culture when we trace the modes by which Okonkwo’s adherence to certain values and ideals and Umuofia’s validations of these values converge to generate the masculine nationalist tradition represented by Things Fall Apart” (152). It is fair to claim that the origin and nature of the culture established a selective tradition in which does who exude masculinity are superior. The perception of the issues surrounding gender has triggered tensions between the sexes in society.
Gender stereotyping leaves females in a perilous position, the stringent gender differentiation encourages the repression of the female sex. “And what makes one person “male” and the other ‘female’?” (Anyokwu 17). What truly draws the line of gender identification, biology or cultural definition? If a biologically defined female holds the supposed values of manliness that is decided by the patriarchy, do they qualify to be called a male? In defining gender, there are many blanks where the decision is based purely on one’s interpretation. Along the way, the term male began to imply masculinity and female began to imply pacifism. Okonkwo embodies the Igbo nation’s ideology of masculinity, the ideal alpha male. “Stretched logically, Okonkwo’s multiple selves/personalities comprehend and subsume other less-iconic figures such as his confidant-friend, Obierika. This is more so because Okonkwo is portrayed as almost entirely ‘male’” (Anyokwu 19). To be considered a male in the eyes of Igbo tradition you must possess the drive to conquer any impediments. Any suspected violation of the unspoken standards of the fragile, social structure would lead to never-ending gender misclassification. In the Igbo culture gendering of inanimate objects such as harvest and crops further pushed the narrative of males being superior. The yams have become embedded into the age-old narrative. In the novel Things Fall Apart Achebe states that, “…[The] [y]am stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed” (24). Cultivating the yam gave precedence to the open demonstration of strength. Only with a certain amount of physical strength can a man harness the resources needed to harvest yams successfully. Okonkwo’s hyper-masculinity and overwhelming strength was his greatest weakness. His refusal to think rationally instead of with his emotions leads to his people betraying him. Subjectively, characters like Okonkwo can be feminized if given more exposure to feminine desires. Essentially to gain and or maintain social relevancy one must be physically fit and in tune with their selves, these characteristics are proven to be gender-neutral.
In the novel, gender is a prominent theme and much of the novel focuses on the unstable balance between feminine and masculine forces. Igbo traditions focused on masculinity and all that can be achieved with a masculine nature. African Literature researchers analyzed the intricate balance that lies in between femininity and masculinity. The distinction between what makes a man and what makes a woman is discussed in detail. Through the readings, a greater knowledge of the Igbo culture and why gender is crucial is acquired.
- Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1958.
- Anyokwu, Christopher. “Re-Imagining Gender in Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart.’” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, vol. 12, no. 2, 2011, pp. 16–31. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41210316
- Jeyifo, Biodun. “Okonkwo and His Mother: Things Fall Apart and Issues of Gender in the Constitution of African Postcolonial Discourse.” Callaloo, vol. 16, no. 4, 1993, pp. 847–858. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2932213.
- Osei-Nyame, Kwadwo. “Chinua Achebe Writing Culture: Representations of Gender and Tradition in ‘Things Fall Apart.’” Research in African Literatures, vol. 30, no. 2, 1999, pp. 148–164. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3820564.
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