Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet and critic. This novel Things Fall Apart is regarded as Chinua Achebe’s magnum opus. This novel is a post-colonial text which is divided into three parts and is set in the backdrop of Africa. The narrative shows a fictional village of Umofia and focuses upon the aftereffects of colonialism.
The title of this book is taken from W.B.Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming, to aptly describe the way things fell apart during colonialism. .The story depicts the life of Okonko, the protagonist, and his relationship with the Igbo culture. And, how the lives of the people of Umofia changes once the white masters arrive. Earlier, “the land of living was not far removed from the domain of the ancestors” but gradually, it went in contrast to each other. This is so because the Igbo culture had its roots centralized upon the very idea of discrimination as everything was categorized into male and female such as crops, crimes and public and private activities.
Moreover, with the coming of the white missionaries it becomes even worse. They with their clever tactics completely transform the Igbo society. Agro based culture gets transformed into capitalism and the oral traditional set of values gets converted into written form. This leads to splitting apart of the unification of the Igbo clan leaving Okonko alienated. In a sense, the coming of the white masters rips Okonko off his masculinity which in turn makes him commit suicide, marking the end of the novel.
Therefore, in my opinion, the novel shows the struggle of an individual to unite his clan which was disintegrated with coming of the colonizers. Okonko commits suicide because he feels helpless as it was a one way process that can be stated in three contrasting ways namely individual versus community, tradition versus modernity and Okonko versus inaction of the society.
I have no doubt in recommending this book as a must read. It will make you undergo a trajectory of emotions that Achebe has displayed in this amazing post-colonial narrative.