Will Byrnes's Reviews > Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
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Oct 05, 08

Read in September, 2007

In this classic tale Okonkwo is a strong man in his village, and in his region of nine villages. At age 18 he beat the reigning wrestling champion and has been an industrious worker all his life, a reaction to his lazy, drunkard father. He lives his life within the cultural confines of his limited world, following the laws that govern his society, accepting the religious faith of his surroundings, acting on both, even when those actions would seem, to us in the modern west, an abomination. While he may succeed and fail within the confines of his society’s laws, what he cannot do is adapt himself to the world when it goes through a dramatic transformation. In this case, his home town is revolutionized when white missionaries set up a base and bring along with them the firepower of western weapons. Unable to cope, unable to channel his justifiable rage into constructive actions, he is led inexorably to his doom.

What is this book about? It is a simple tale. The details of Okonkwo’s experiences accumulate to give us a picture of his times, his culture, so we have a sense of what is at stake when change arrives. Is this a warning to us of our own inability to see beyond the confines of our culture? How will we cope with change when it comes, in whatever form?

I found it difficult keeping track of the characters. This is a case in which a diagram of a family tree would probably come in handy. Yet, ultimately, this is not so important. What matters is that we get a sense of Okonkowo‘s world. And the impact of the West arriving in an African society.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King As ever Will, I came across your review by chance while looking at another friend's books.

Here we are in 2008 and I still like your reviews even then. I personally don't feel that reviews have to be too long as all they need to do is get the point across and inspire someone to purchase the book.

But there again, I contradict myself, as some of the longer views are excellent. Still I'm a woman and so I can change my mind!


Will Byrnes I am not all that pleased with most of my 2008 review.s I was just beginning with this. But I am pleased, anyway, that you liked it. At least it is an actual review and not just a list of quotes.

And I know that as a guy, I never contradict myself, well, maybe sometimes.


message 3: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King It is good to put in the odd quote though as it adds flavour, depth and context to a book I believe. Perhaps I'm just one of these simple souls though.

Thunder!I hope that the electricity doesn't go off. Can happen here even with France having nuclear energy and exporting electricity to Italy and the UK!


Will Byrnes I have reached a much better balance of applying quotes these days. when I was first on GR, I was using it mostly as a place where I could store quotes I liked from books.

'Tis a gift to be simple


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