Discuss the significance of Things Fall Apart as a social document and a novel dramatizing traditional Igbo life and its first encounter with colonialism and Christianity at the turn of the twentieth century.
I. Thesis Statement: Things Fall Apart recreates the conflict between European and Igbo cultures at the turn of the twentieth century by focusing on the cataclysmic changes introduced by the forces of colonialism and Christianity.
II. Social and Economic Life of the Igbo
A. Social structure of the Igbo
B. Role of men and women
C. Role of marriage and the family
D. Significance of the yam
III. Traditional Politics
A. Umuofia and the political structure
B. Success and personal achievement
C. The title-taking system
D. The leadership role of elders
E. The judicial role of egwugwu
IV. Colonial Changes in Economic and Political Life
A. Significance of the palm-oil trade
B. The colonial administration
C. The District Commissioner
D. The native court
E. The role of court messengers
V. Traditional Igbo Religion
A. Chukwu, the Supreme Creator God
B. Ani, the Earth goddess
C. Agbala, and the Oracles
D. Ritual sacrifices
E. The feminine and masculine principles
F. Ogbanje children
G. The abandonment of twins
H. The role of the ancestors
I. Titles and reincarnation
J. Children and reincarnation
VI. Christianity and Changes in Social and Religious Life
A. The missionary factor
B. The first Igbo Christians: osu, mothers of twins, unsuccessful men
D. Conflicts with traditional beliefs
E. Breakup of the Igbo clan
VII. The Author’s Recreation of History through Literary Techniques (Optional)
A. Characterization of Okonkwo
B. Use of proverbs
C. Use of stories within the text
D. Significance of the title in relationship to “The Second Coming”
A. The use of...
(The entire section is 867 words.)
15 Best Essay Topics on Things Fall Apart for High School Students
If you find that you have to do a writing assignment on the book, Things Fall Apart, which is based on a poem, then make sure you check out these top essay topics that may help you to get started:
- For starters, you could write about the transitions of the book as it goes from one generation to the next in Things Fall Apart, to the second book, No Longer at Ease, to the third book, Arrow of God.
- You could talk about the different levels of the lead characters’ descendants.
- You can chronicle whether or not the book on Okonkwo and his descendants was historically accurate and in line with the Western world changes that took place over time.
- Consider writing about the Missionaries. Why were they so stringent and ready to embrace slavery?
- Another approach would be to write about the lead character Okonkwo, and whether or not his defiance helped him or hindered him with the introduction of colonialism in the world.
- Another idea is to try to introduce the correlation between old world initiatives new world ideas. As we, even in our own lives embrace and fight different cultural changes, describe why we are adamant against change, or willing to learn new things from their influences.
- You could also consider the three sections of the work itself. Did you find that the book in three sections is relevant or should it have been consistent as one book describing the family's history and the customs all throughout the book? Should it have been three separate areas?
- Next consider writing about slavery and how even the missionaries and colonialists were set in their thinking. Did the mindset of Okonkwo cause his family to stay enslaved?
- You could also write about Okonkwo and whether or not the idea of him not landing on his back, be a metaphor for what was to come.
- Also, consider whether Okonkwo, as the protagonist, was too prideful the introduction of colonialism.
- You could focus on Okonkwo’s wives and their ability to walk away from him and seek out different men. While he was prideful, they were more worried about money and freedom.
- Consider whether or not Okonkwo's son Nwoye, breaking away from his traditional upbringing and violent manner, is significant to the storyline slowly unfolding in the book.
- You could also write and question whether or not the Igbo people are consistent with other tribes that want to stay confined and yet want you to diversify into different areas.
- Contrast the missionaries defiance with Okonkwo's own defiance to not fall back, as his son determines not to become like his father.
- You could also write about the tension that existed between the tribe and the western world that began to come about. Also consider comparing the book to the movie, Half of a Yellow Sun, which came out in 2006. A war breaks out and families are divided.
As you work to decide which particular topic you want to go with, you may want to not only read the book, Things Fall Apart, but also consider different works that you can use as correlations.
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