Things Fall Apart is one of the first, and finest, books to deal with European expansion into Africa from an African point of view. The author even-handedly explores the introduction of Christianity, recognizing the difference between missionaries truly spreading the gospel and those missionaries only there to spread Western culture.
Okonkwo lives with his Ibo clansmen in a Nigerian village in the late 1800s. Driven by fear that he will be considered a failure like his father, he is determined to prove himself stronger, tougher, more violent, and more honorable than anyone else. He works hard at growing yams, the "man's crop"; he fights hard, bringing back his enemies' skulls; and he takes two titles - signs of power and honor which involve generously giving to the community. He marries three wives and has eight children, all of whom he tries to keep under strict control.
A fiercely proud and short-tempered man, Okonkwo is nearing the pinnacle of leadership and power he has strived for in his village, only to see everything he worked for fall apart as he clashes with the new European government and religion.
Through Chinua Achebe's critically acclaimed heart-wrenching novel, Things Fall Apart, students will learn:
Historical and Cultural Background
Author Biography: Learn about Chinua Achebe.
Before-You-Read Activities: Poetry, mapping, colonialism, Nigeria.
Vocabulary words used throughout the novel, utilizing a variety of activities to stimulate retention and growth.
Literary Techniques: Synonym, proverbs, characterization, foreshadowing, flashback, simile, metaphor, imagery, point of view, backstory, onomatopoeia, anthropomorphism, juxtaposition, pourquoi tale, irony, paradox, foil, epiphany, protagonist, hero, anti-hero, tragic hero, dynamic vs. static.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Fear-based, shame-based or guilt-based societies, attitude, death, superstition, murder, defilement, family, plans, vengeance, suicide, fate vs. choices.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Essays, poetry, government, malaria, customs, class discussions, debate, crossword, missionaries, letters.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of more books by the same author(s) and other books that tie in with, or are similar to, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
All of the unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!
Printed Workbook Format
I teach a homeschool co-op class of five high school boys. We had some REALLY thought provoking conversations because of the study guide for this book, especially as we compared the ministry "styles" of the two missionaries. Because of the Christian discussion questions in all the study guides we've used, I often feel like our world literature class is a discipleship class as we discuss much more than literature.