Things Fall Apart is a wonderful African Literature novel that discusses the lifestyle of an African village, Umuofia and the struggles of the main character Okonkwo. The novel also discusses the impact upon African indigenous tribes and religion when the imperialists and missionaries moved into Africa to “educate the savages.”
I really like this book, even though there are some really screwed up parts, it is a brutally honest representation of what life was like.
The book centers on Okonkwo, a powerful man and warrior in this village who has three wives, two titles, several children and a large compound. Okonkwo is the kind of man who rules his house with a heavy hand. He despises laziness and really anything that reminds him of his father who died shamefully and in debt. (Okonkwo has daddy issues.) However, his fatal character flaw is that he is so overly masculine, he beats his wife when it isn’t “justified” by their culture, but just because he is upset and he refuses to let himself show any emotion.
Following Okonkwo, you can see how he struggles with himself and how he feels he must keep up this appearance of being overly masculine to be everything his father isn’t. He has this whole struggle of man vs. self, man vs. society and man vs. destiny. Okonkwo’s struggle is seen at many points throughout the story and in the end I feel like it is what leads to his downfall because he is so rigid and unable to adapt that he becomes obsolete when the western culture moves in. So if you like historical fiction and viewing other cultures then you should definitely give this book a try.
I did want to make one note, this book does include scenes where Okonkwo beats his wife and there are traits of sexism, however I ask you to keep in mind that this novel is set. The entire world was sexist towards women so you have to take that with a grain of salt and realize that Achebe is merely portraying the culture as it was.