I was nervous when I learned that I would be reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.  It was one of the books recommended in my high school World Literature class, but it wasn’t the one I chose. I chose Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but many of my friends chose Achebe. They described it as a difficult read, for the culture described in the book is hard to imagine for us as Americans. When I began reading it myself, I understood what they were talking about.

                First of all, while it’s not really important to the story itself, I’m surprised at how many similarities there are in the characters’ names. It makes it confusing, and made me painfully aware of the fact that my notes for this section of the book were not nearly as good as they should have been. For example, the main character’s name is Okonkwo. There are is also an Ogbuefi, Obiako, the Oracle, Okoye, Obiageli, etc. It’s probably because I am not familiar with African culture (including names), but these all seem similar. Personally, I’ve only known two people from Nigeria (Achebe is Nigerian), and one of  them had an “O” name as well : Ofori.

                Something else I found interesting was the fact that there is a ceremony for nearly everything in the story. I wondered if there would be fewer ceremonies in part two, but early on it mentions an upcoming ceremony and eventually describes it. After all, there is nothing more lovely than beheading a chicken at a bridal ceremony.

                The introduction of the white men is very interesting in part two. At first, I found the reference to the “iron horse” was quite funny, but I suppose they didn’t know any better. It’s easy to imagine them tying a bicycle to a tree and watching it as if it would run away. I was not surprised when Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye, converted to Christianity. After dealing with such abuse for years, I definitely think he saw it as his way out.




Leave a Reply.