Things Fall Apart

The Release of African Culture on the World

In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe uses Okonkwo's story to elaborate a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the cultural values of African tribes. Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as a rebuttal to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Thus, Achebe uses the book to contrast European perception of African culture with reality. The novel particularly uses the conflicts of Okonkwo, its tragic hero, to symbolize African culture. Furthermore, Things Fall Apart stresses the importance of nature in African culture, and it gives detailed and elaborate accounts of the native political and economic systems in Umuofia prior to European involvement.

Because Achebe's goal is to increase global comprehension of African culture, he uses a tragic hero in his novel. Tragic heroes usually have higher moral standards than regular heroes. This evokes a deeper sympathy in the reader when the character suffers. Traditionally noble by birth, a tragic hero is fully responsible for his or her own fate, but is ultimately condemned by a tragic flaw of judgment. This irreversible misjudgment causes the hero to fall from his high standing, and lead to his death.

Okonkwo is an ideal example of the tragic hero. For example, he faces...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1082 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8442 literature essays, 2298 sample college application essays, 367 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in