Things Fall Apart Chapters 11-13


1. What does the Chapter Eleven incident involving the priestess of Agbala tell us about the values of the culture? What side of Okonkwo is revealed by his behavior during that long night?

2. Consider the marriage customs of the Igbo depicted in Things Fall Apart particularly bride-price. What is suggested about the value of women in such a system? In Chapter Twelve, how is the importance of family emphasized in the Uri ceremony, when the bride price is paid?

3. Notice that the song sung at the end of the Chapter Twelve is a new one: "the latest song in the village." What might the inclusion of the song reveal about the culture?

4. Having shown us an engagement ceremony in Chapter Twelve, Achebe depicts a funeral in Chapter Thirteen. What do we learn from the depiction of the funeral ceremony? What tragic incident forces Okonkwo into exile?

5. How are white men first introduced into the story? Why might Africans suppose that they have no toes? What sorts of attitudes do the Africans express about white men?

6. Part One presents Igbo life and culture before the coming of the white man and colonialism. In what way(s) can Things Fall Apart be considered a "response" to depictions of Africans in Western literature such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness--or other images of Africa as portrayed in the Western media, film, or books with which you are familiar? How does Achebe’s novel "correct" such European depictions of Africa and Africans, and offer you an Afrocentric (Africa-centered), rather than a Eurocentric (or Western-centered), perspective? (Refer back to Achebe's "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness")

7. Even as Achebe works to educate his readers about African culture and to combat demeaning stereotypes, he does not present Igbo society as ideal or perfect. The portrait of this culture on the eve of its "falling apart" in Part One of Things Fall Apart is complex, sometimes contradictory and critical. What aspects of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe seem to question or criticize? How does Achebe use characters like Obierika, Okonkwo, and Nwoye to offer such social criticism of Igbo society? How do the people of Umuofia react to change?