“Things Fall Apart” provides insightful look at other cultures

Written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, “Things Fall Apart” is probably the most authentic narrative ever written about life in Nigeria at the turn of the twentieth century. The novel was first published in 1958 — two years before Nigeria achieved its independence. Thousands of copies are still sold every year in the United States alone.

The novel is about the tragic fall of Okonkwo and the Ibo culture. Okonkwo is a respected and influential leader within the Ibo community of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. He first earns personal fame and distinction through an annual wrestling match that brings honor to his village. Okonkwo determines to gain titles for himself and become a powerful and wealthy man in spite of his father’s apparent weaknesses. When Christian missionaries arrive to the Ibo village, violence ensues.

Okonkwo’s personal struggle with masculinity is demonstrated throughout the entirety of the novel. He is determined to not end up like his father, who he considered to be incredibly lazy. This struggle causes Okonkwo to react in rash ways that ultimately decide his fate.

While I was required to read this book for AP English IV, I actually found myself enjoying the novel. It wonderfully displays the lifestyle of a completely different culture. Some of the actions Okonkwo takes throughout the book are shocking enough to make the reader unable to put the book down.

I would encourage anyone who has a desire to learn about other cultures to read this book. Not only will you learn about another way of life, you’ll learn about how a Western society similar to our own impacted much of Nigeria. I’d also suggest this book to any student who wants to learn about the different societal expectations of women throughout history. Overall, I’d give this book a solid 7/10.