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THEMES: THINGS FALL APART.

Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.

Gender
Much of the traditional Igbo life presented in this novel revolves around structured gender roles.

Family
For the Igbo, there are a few key ideas that form the basis of an ideal family: mutual respect for each other, a reverence for all past fathers, and unity.

Respect and Reputation


Reputation is extremely important to the men in the novel. Personal reputation is publicly denoted by the ankle bracelets men wear, which signify the number of titles they have earned.

Fear
Many of the characters suffer from fear of some sort. Okonkwo fears becoming like his lazy, shameful father, Ekwefi fears losing her daughter, and Nwoye fears his fathers wrath.

Religion
The Igbo gods are mostly manifestations of nature and its elements, which makes sense because they are an agricultural society that depends on the regularity of seasons and natural phenomena.

Sin
In Things Fall Apart, sin is defined as a crime against the gods. Such transgressions occur when a member of society violates the most intimate bonds of family.

Traditions and Customs


Igbo lifestyle is highly stylized, from its ritual speech to the actions performed for certain ceremonies.

Man and the Natural World


As an agricultural society, the survival of the Umuofia depends on the earth and its predictable cycle of seasons.

Fate and Free Will


Social rank and relative wealth play great roles in determining a persons destiny in Umuofia society.

Language and Communication


Speech is highly stylized in Igbo culture, with specific rules on how to addresses a neighbor, a superior, an ancestral spirits, and the gods. Respect is usually at the heart of formal speech.

The Struggle Between Change and Tradition


As a story about a culture on the verge of change, Things Fall Apart deals with how the prospect and reality of change affect various characters.

Varying Interpretations of Masculinity


Okonkwos relationship with his late father shapes much of his violent and ambitious demeanor. He wants to rise above his fathers legacy of spendthrift, indolent behavior, which he views as weak and therefore effeminate.

Language as a Sign of Cultural Difference


On a macroscopic level, it is extremely significant that Achebe chose to writeThings Fall Apart in Englishhe clearly intended it to be read by the West at least as much, if not more, than by his fellow Nigerians. His goal was to critique and emend the portrait of Africa that was painted by so many writers of the colonial period. Doing so required the use of English, the language of those colonial writers. Through his inclusion of proverbs, folktales, and songs translated from the Igbo language, Achebe managed to capture and convey the rhythms, structures, cadences, and beauty of the Igbo language.