Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe explores African tribal culture, religions native to those tribes, and the influence, or ruination, from an invading religion. Through the lens of a tribal leader Okonkwo, the reader is able to understand and nearly come to believe as the tribes the books center. Also through him is a critique of Christianity and British colonization.
The reader would find it hard to sympathize with Okonkwo initially. He is a “man’s man,” a man of war and of restrained feelings. Violence to him comes easier than it does to most and he is fondly nostalgic of his time in war. It is only through his failure to bend to the whim of the British invaders that the reader starts to develop sympathy but by then fate of the surrounding tribes is all too apparent. There wasn’t much growth to Okonkwo, though. Things happened to him and he would retaliate. It was this exact characteristic which supports the unchanging character and is therefore legitimized within the context.
Achebe’s style is reminiscent of the culture of which he speaks, lending to a grand cohesiveness to the work. Even in metaphor and simile Achebe applies a reverence of nature and of the many gods. There was also an elegance within Achebe’s writing one would find difficult to explain definitely. In all the bad there was an exuberance and pleasure taken within the sentences. Even if this wasn’t Achebe’s intent the feeling certainly bleed into the work anyway.
“The Crowd had surrounded and swallowed up the drummers, whose frantic rhythm was no longer a mere disembodied sound but the very heartbeat of the people.”
“The faint and distant wailing of women settled like a sediment of sorrow on the earth.”
“‘If you had been poor in your last life I would have asked you to be rich when you come again. But you were rich. If you had been a coward, I would have asked you to bring courage. But you were a fearless warrior. If you had died young, I would have asked you to get a life. But you lived long. So I shall ask you to come again the way you came before.'”