notes on “Things Fall Apart”

These are some notes i scrippled from the Dr Bart seminars. 


THEY ARE NOT everything. study them and focus on the issues we examined in the classes. 


I will be posting extracts as i edit my notes. So keep visiting this page.





Achebe: One of the most imp. Figures of writers in the second have and non-English writers.

He tried to negotiate between two cultures, crossword, to make sense of this crossroad.

To provide the challenge of western civilization and the narrative they promote i.e. he is tries to present the world with a counter narrative questioning the western discourse/narrative and pushing a narrative in which the African is a human being no less intelligent than westerners.

He was very dismayed how Africans were represented like Conrad in 'Heart of Darkness'.


"Things Fall Apart"

Published 1958

First text in the Africans writers series.

To present the African lit.

The very first African novels.


Achebe Was named by an African Nobel prize the father of African Literature.



Nigeria was not a settler colony, UK migration was strictly regulated. That Meant the decolonization was very quick and mainly peaceful unlike Kenya or SA in which there was a large settler population that was reluctant to leave.  


Achebe was benign towards colonization mainly because there were no settlers in Nigeria. Egume Ogongi was not because of the presence of settlers in his country.


Nigeria had Muslim North vs Christian south conflicts

Fuel reserves taken by the elite controlling Africa,

'Things Fall apart" engages with this very troubled history.

He was criticizing this elite which made him in trouble with military leaders of Nigeria ,







"Things Fall Apart"


Representation of the colonial encounter

The negatives

1-      From his school days Achebe was disturbed by  how Africans were presented. "Things Fall Apart"(TFA)attempts to challenge the representation of Africa.  Ach. "counterattacks the lies and slanders to justify the slaves trade" .

2-      Criticque of colonialism and its presentation of the other. Achebe described Joseph Conrad author of  'Heart of Darkness"(HoD) as  'bloody racist' 'an image of Africa' racism in HoD'. 1– HoD typical of most lit. by EU writers not with Afirca but with EU it is narcissistic. Africans become an exotic background > eruocentric. In TFA The hierarchy is reversed. Africa takes centre. Only inafter 67 pages Eros are mentioned. They occupy a marginal role. The focus on the African characters. 2– the stereotyping of Africans. Conrad uses cannibals as less than human they do not speak properly but  Primitive and less than humans. Achebe uses reverse Brown and Smith most common names stereotype of English. The one who appeared has no name; he is denied individuality as humans like the two others. The African, such as Okonkow, is three with intensely human characteristics. Complex. Deeply flawed and admirable. Array of motivations behind his behaviors. No two but three dimensional. 3- treatment of violence. European superpowers claimed they are bringing peace pacification to bring peace to Africa. Violence in the text in part of the critique. Achebe associates violence more with the colonizer than the colonized. Nothing compared to the violence of Eros. Ex. The Quarrel between an neighboring villages. War threatens but compensation is paid one boy and girl war is averted a PEACE is established because of this system. When a British is killed, instead of negotiation they send an entire army. And killed the whole village showing how violent the British are.



tihs is the rest of the notes. i do not think much of what i wrote mgiht make sense, but here it is. I will try to edit if IF i have time




Ach. Is critiquing.

Another stratefy to chalge colo. A vision about Africa life other the one in their books. Life as a civisation of a highly developed kind. British did not bring but interfered and decoyed whoch was working very well. Generousity coursty hospitality. 'the art of conversation is regarded very highly. Good at speaking. Challenging Conrad's idea of Af not being able to speak. >>>> IT IS YOUR PROBLEM IDOT IF YOU DO NOT GET THEIR LANG.

Sophisictaed cooperatve economic system

Political system that works very well. :a man was judged according to his work not his father's'

You gain a status not take it from your father. Even it is patriciahcy it is not an autoritiarian or depotic socisty

The fields of culture: many culture acitivities: music, sport, wrestling, masqueridade like daram. Finally


Religious belief governing the behavious of the people.e.

Its way of life was sophisticated and complex religious poli. Eco,

They get everything to constitute a civisation.


Edward said "Anthropology it is the west perfoming on nonwest aas sunject ppl t be able control them better" that os useful to convern them.

The distrect commissioner writing the book 'the pacification of the primitive trbies of th lower niger' he write the story of okonokow in a single para. To ditrotr sthe life of Afrcnas.

ACH. Gives the story its right in 200 pages.


So the book is counter anthropology not antro. He took ERU antrooplogy and took is outside down,. Their culture is indepened nad has to be judged alone.


That is about his criticism of Colonials presence.


Also there is another side of the presence. The POSITIVE

Not all bad, it is a mixure of bad and good.

He was raised in a Christian ousehold.

He seems to be chrisitianity is the best thing that gets to ngeria.

Brown: extreme bad

Smith: much more ppositive good.


     In this sense his complicated nationasit.


Representing the woman as negative. His wife. 1st 2nd no names. His particiachy he criticizes the beating of the wife in peace weak, but he is punished. Violence is tolerated only in one week.

Excessive masculnalism.

Terrified by emotional weakness. When he kills his adopted son.

Oknokow does not neceirasly his culture. He presents a bad thing in ACH idea which is excessive masculinity.


His treatment of certain pracitics and it is condemened: twins are not accepted are evil.

The outcast of the village. We do not know why. 


These dicivions allowed wested colonias to succeed and prevail


He is a nationalist but he has to appreciate the the nation state.


The language issue in debates about postcolonial culture

The African writer and the English lanaguge: essay> ACH. What language sould o be writing in. to be suitable. "the new African stae needs a common lanague to be effective. Nigera> what should that be. How to choose among without giving one ethnic group over others.

The neutral language is English desote it is the language if the colonial power. English doe sot favour any part;

To unite us and have a national literature.  National lit. should be written inEnglis

Ethnic lit. available in its own langauge

Paradoxically English is t eonlty lng. Of English.

1-      Other afrcan lang.  no lang barrier.

2-      Speak to each other


He defends writetrs like himself. Unlike others who insisted on writing their language. Now they are forgotten.


He said syou should noly write in English, they NEED a nationa and ethinic he praises ppl writing in their mother tongue. Both lits should flowrish. 2- do not se English in the way the English use it. To mix En. Weith local English not like the BBC what is English Englishes. Not standard English. "


He hibridise English "like a fire in the harmattan' 2- local words. Untransalted. To remind this is the langaugeif African English. Proverbs are also used, to use non standard English.

He hyrbidises the western novel form not only the English lanaguge. The form . not copying the form of wesern realist form of the novel .

Thereis a plot there is character bit subordate to his larger reoccupation. We have social iphasise to descrive. To intgrate the western form with the oral tradtion.


It is a new form to spread lcoan narratives not adopt the western.


He saw himself as acrossword. TFA is a crossroad with diff, road meet.


A new narrative form merger to counter the postocilian. It is new and unprecedented.


Ngugi was more violent.



The death> he reresnts the death of old ways. He dies not 100% represent his culture llike suicide and beating his wife. But it is seen as resistance/ suicide is forbidden in his culture.

He is self-destructive. There is a tendenancy in traditional destroys itself. The things were already falling apart before the arrival. > ACH, weakening the socity from within. Against the rules. He is a very flawed hero,




250 ethnic origin

500 langauges


Africanise nigerise the English language. 

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