August 15

Things Fall Apart

Things fall apart “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.”

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

“Things Fall Apart is an English-language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe published in 1958. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim.” (Wikipedia)


The following resources have been chosen to help you find out more about Chinua Achebe and the background to Things Fall Apart.

Aquinas College Library resources:

823.09 Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (York Notes)

823.09 ACH Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (Cliff Notes)

823.09 ACH Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe: Insight text guide

823.09 ACH Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe: Sample A+ exam and SAC essays with assessor comments…

Internet resources:

First of all, let’s look at what Achebe himself has to say about his novel.

Achebe was interviewed fifty years after Things Fall Apart, when he was 78 years old. In this interview he talks about the background to his novel and the impact this work has made since it was first published.


Here is another interview where Chinua Achebe talks about slavery, colonialism, Africa and the African diaspora.

An interview with Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe is interviewed by Bill Moyers in this 30 minute film. There are three parts to this film: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (Note: Film quality is not very good.)

When Achebe died early in 2013, this documentary was released, summing up the importance of Achebe’s work. It is entitled Remembering Chinua Achebe.


Chinua Achebe speaking at Asbury Hall, Buffalo, as part of the “Babel: Season 2” series by Just Buffalo Literary Center, Hallwalls, & the International Institute, 2008, photo taken by Stuart C. Shapiro


Let’s look now at what others have written about Chinua Achebe.


The following obituaries of Chinua Achebe were released after his death early in 2013:

The Gawker, CNN, The New Yorker, Huffington Post.


After Empire: Chinua Achebe and the great African novel, an article from The New Yorker magazine, discusses the importance of Things Fall Apart as the first mainstream African novel written by an African.


Invitation to World Literature: Things Fall Apart 

– This site is broken into three sections: Watch, Read, Explore, each one with valuable information to help you understand the text.

The ‘Watch’ section contains a 30 minute documentary film which introduces the world of the Igbo, whose civilization is threatened by the colonial advances of the British into their lands in Nigeria. You’ll see this native world in all its logic, beauty, and problems, and then watch it begin to crack under internal and external pressure.

The ‘Explore’ section of the above website contains a timeline of events from Nigeria’s history and photographs which pertain to the novel.


Both the title and epitaph of Achebe’s novel are taken from W.B.Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’. Here is a spoken rendition of the poem:

You will find an explanation of Yeats’ poem here, as well as a spoken copy of the poem here, set to images of terrorism and destruction.

If you choose the assignment option which requires you to prepare a persuasive monologue justifying your action, visit the Persuasive Monologue page on Aquinas Reads. The first four film clips are examplars of such a speech.

Introduction to World Literatures: Africa, Igbo Culture, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

The second half of this page contains information on the historical background of Nigeria, Chinua Achebe’s life, an introduction to the novel, and Okonkwo as tragic hero in Things Fall Apart, Igbo society and Western intrusion.

More study notes can found on these websites: SparknotesStudy Guide for Things Fall Apart

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