Study Help Essay Questions

1. Why did Achebe choose to take the title of his novel, Things Fall Apart, from William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming"?

2. What is the narrator's point of view and what values are important to the narrator?

3. Achebe presents details of daily village life in Umuofia, as well as details concerning the Igbo culture. Describe the setting of the novel.

4. What is chi? Explain the importance of chi in shaping Okonkwo's destiny.

5. Obierika is a foil for Okonkwo. That is, when compared to Okonkwo, the contrast between the two characters emphasizes the distinctive characteristics of Okonkwo. Compare the two characters — Obierika and Okonkwo.

6. Achebe suggests that Igbo culture is dynamic (constantly changing). Find evidence in the novel to support this notion.

7. What is the significance of Nwoye's Christian name, Isaac?

8. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe includes stories from Igbo culture and tradition, proverbs, and parables. What is the significance of Achebe's integration of African literary forms with that of Western literary forms?

9. Achebe resents the stereotype of African cultures that is presented in literature, such as Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Identify instances in Things Fall Apart that portray variations in African cultures.

10. What is the role of women in the novel?

11. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the social structure portrayed in Things Fall Apart. For example, the culture is polygamous; the husband, wives, and children live in their own compound; children are cared for communally.

12. Explain why you think Okonkwo kills himself.

13. In your opinion, what contributes most to things falling apart in Umuofia? Explain.

14. How are the womanly or feminine qualities of the Igbo culture important to its survival?

15. Compare Mr. Brown and Reverend Smith. How does the black and white thinking of Reverend Smith contribute to Umuofia's downfall? What would have prevented Umuofia's downfall?

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