CliffsNotes, Achebe's Things Fall Apart

CliffsNotes, Achebe's Things Fall Apart

CliffsNotes, Achebe's Things Fall Apart

CliffsNotes, Achebe's Things Fall Apart

Synopsis

The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in this series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

In CliffsNotes on Things Fall Apart, you explore the ground-breaking work of author Chinua Achebe, considered by many to be the most influential African writer of his generation. The novel, amazing in its authenticity, leaves behind the stereotypical portrayals of African life and presents the Igbo culture of Nigeria in all its remarkable complexity.

Chapter summaries and commentaries take you through Achebe's world, and critical essays give you insight into the novel's themes and use of language. Other features that help you study include

  • Character analyses of the main characters
  • A character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the characters
  • A section on the life and background of Chinua Achebe
  • A review section that tests your knowledge
  • A Resource Center full of books, articles, films, and Internet sites

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.

Excerpt

Set around the turn of the century, the novel focuses first on the hero of the book, Okonkwo, and on his late father, Unoka. Okonkwo is a respected leader within the Igbo (formerly spelled Ibo) community of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. About twenty years ago, Okonkwo distinguished himself and brought honor to his village when he wrestled and threw to the ground Amalinze the Cat, a man who had not been defeated for seven years. Since then, Okonkwo’s reputation as a wrestler has grown throughout the nine villages of Umuofia. He is known to be quickly angered, especially when dealing with unsuccessful men like his father, who died ten years ago deeply in debt.

Because of Unoka’s laziness and wastefulness, the community had considered him a failure and laughingstock; he was a continual source of deep shame to Okonkwo. Even though he had a family to care for, Unoka frequently borrowed money and then squandered it on palmwine and merrymaking with his neighbors, thus neglecting his family who barely had enough to eat.

The story is told about the day, years ago, when Unoka was visited by Okoye, a successful neighbor. After the traditional ceremonial courtesies and small talk, Okoye asked Unoka for the two hundred cowries that Unoka had borrowed two years earlier. Okoye needed the money for the ceremony in which he would purchase the third highest title of honor.

Unoka burst into laughter and pointed to the wall on which he recorded his debts. He told Okoye that tradition required him to repay his largest debts before repaying small ones like his debt to Okoye. Okoye left without his money.

Despite his father’s shameful reputation, Okonkwo is now highly respected in Umuofia, which honors individual achievement rather than family heritage. Still a young man in his thirties, Okonkwo has become a wealthy farmer of yams—a sacred crop—and supports three wives, a significant indicator of wealth and “manliness.” Furthermore, he is . . .

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