Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe. This story about the life and struggle of a man named Okonkwo, from the village Unuofia. Okonkwo wasn’t born rich but he became successful through hard work and perseverance. In this essay, I will examine and the use of literary elements in Chinua Achebe’s inspirational story, Things Fall Apart.
Things Fall Apart takes place in Umuofia, an Igbo village in Nigeria. The story is set sometime around the 1890s. One major theme in this story is the struggle with fragile masculinity.
Okonkwo’s views on masculinity varies from the opinions of the group, in that he believes masculinity is best displayed through aggression and physical/emotion dominance. At one point, he even beats his wife to show that women are inferior to men.
One of the purposes of Things Fall Apart is to change the stereotypical view in much of the westernized world that African people are lazy, uneducated, and not worth the trouble of understanding.
One example of metaphor, or figurative language in the story is the use of metaphor when Achebe uses the line “they stopped dead” (pp. 207). One of the characters was so stunned with their discovery that they stopped and stood like the dead, immobile and speechless. The use of metaphor adds dramatic affect to the story.
An example of symbolism in the story is the yams. Yams are predominantly grown by med because the upkeep is such a rigorous task, and a man’s field size and the yield of his harvest say a lot about his work ethic and his ability to provide for his family.
In the story, yams symbolize wealth. The more yams one has, the richer and manlier he is. This even ties back into the theme of fragile masculinity. The story adopts a few different tones as it goes on. At one point, it has a supernatural and foreshadowing tone as the Igbo culture is unveiled. Okonkwo says, “The drums were still beating, still persistent and unchanging.” The reader can almost feel the heat and tension in the air and hear the beating of the drums.
After reading this analysis of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the reader should feel more comfortable with the literary elements in the story, and thus have a better understanding of the story as a whole.