Things Break Down and the Case Against Imperialism
12 AP English Burnett Things Fall Apart Socratic Seminar Points of Discussion 1. Achebe starts the novel with a sophisticated description of the central character Okonkwo. What do we find out about the values of Umuofians through this characterization? 2. Talk about Okonkwo as an Igbo heroic character: how does he work to attain greatness as defined by his culture? How does he vary from Western heroes? What are Okonkwo’s strengths and weaknesses? 3. Explain Unoka, Okonkwo’s father. What are Okonkwo’s sensations towards Unoka, and why? How does the example of his daddy shape Okonkwo’s character and actions?
Would Unoka be seen differently in a various culture? 4. What do the early descriptions of Okonkwo’s success and Unoka’s failure tell us about Igbo society? How does one be successful in this cultural context? In the system of the taking of titles who appears to be left out from chances to gain such success? 5. Explain the setting (time, location, culture) of the book. Go over Achebe’s presentation of the information of everyday village life in Umuofia, the values and beliefs of the Igbo individuals, and the importance of routine, ceremony, social hierarchy, and personal achievement in Igbo culture. How is social life organized?
What are the essential events? What is the role of war, of religion, and of the arts? What is the role of the individual in relation to the community of Umuofia? Compare/ contrast Igbo lifestyles, custom-mades, perspectives, beliefs, and values to those of your own culture. 6. What is the value of drums in the book? 7. What impact does night have on the people in Ch. 2? What do they fear? How do they deal with their fear of snakes during the night? 8. What is the cause and nature of the conflict with Mbaino? 9. Think about the dual functions in the human and spiritual worlds played by the egwugwu and Chielo, the priestess of Agbala. 0. Chielo, the priestess of Agbala is introduced in Ch. 3. What does her power and status in Umuofia suggest about ladies’s functions in Igbo culture and faiths? Later in the novel, note Chielo’s functions in the town. What are those functions? What does the Ch. 11 event involving the priestess of Agbala inform us about the values of the culture? What side of Okonkwo is revealed by his behavior throughout that long night? 11. The chi or individual spirit is a repeating theme in the unique, a spiritual belief important to understanding the main character Okonkwo.
Trace further referrals in the novel to the chi. What function does Okonkwo’s chi play in forming his destiny? 12. Compare Obierika– a man “who thinks of things”– to Okonkwo. Is Obierika a type of foil to Okonkwo? 13. Talk about domesticity and living arrangements in Okonkwo’s house. Describe Okonkwo’s relationships to his partners and children, especially to Ekwefi, Ezinma, and Nwoye. 14. What differing functions and functions do men and women have in Igbo society? 15. What is Okonkwo’s attitude towards ladies? 16. In this polygamous culture, males might take more than one other half and each family is enclosed in a substance.
Each wife lives in a hut with her children, and the partner check outs each spouse in turn, though he has his own hut also. Children are often taken care of communally– an African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a kid.” Compare/contrast the benefits and downsides of this social structure to our own family plans in the U. S. 17. Go over the role of Ikemefuna: What is Okonkwo’s relationship with Ikemefuna? Compare Okonkwo’s sensations to Nwoye’s love for Ikemefuna. Why does Okonkwo function as he does, despite the guidance of others not to take part in the killing of Ikemefuna? 8. Why is Okonkwo disappointed with his boy Nwoye? What values does Okonkwo connect with manliness? How does Nwoye connect to these worths? Compare Okonkwo’s attitude toward Nwoye to Okonkwo’s mindset toward his daughter Ezinma (provided in Ch. 8). 19. How are white guys initially introduced into the story? Why might Africans suppose that they have no toes? What sorts of mindsets do the Africans reveal about white men? 20. The egwugwu event of the Igbo is dramatized in Ch. 10. Who are the egwugwu and what are the functions of the event?
Compare the Igbo system of judgment in domestic affairs with that of the U. S. 21. What are these internal disputes that deteriorate the unity and integrity of the village? What part does Okonkwo play in the dissension? How does Okonkwo threaten his own authority within his neighborhood? 22. Part I provides Igbo life and culture before the coming of the white man and colonialism. In what way(s) can Things Fall Apart be thought about a “response” to representations of Africans in Western literature– or other images of Africa as portrayed in the Western media, movie, books, and so on, that you are familiar with?
How does Achebe’s unique “correct” such European representations of Africa and Africans, and use you an Afrocentric (Africa-centered), instead of a Eurocentric (or Western-centered), viewpoint? 23. Even as Achebe works to inform his readers about African culture and to fight demeaning stereotypes, he does not present Igbo society as perfect or best. The picture of this culture on the eve of its “breaking down” in Part I of Things Fall Apart is intricate, sometimes contradictory and crucial. What elements of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe appear to question or criticize?
How does Achebe utilize characters like Obierika, Okonkwo, and Nwoye to use such social criticism of Igbo society? How do individuals of Umuofia respond to alter? 24. Go over the style of fate versus personal control over destiny. For example, Okonkwo’s daddy is in some cases delegated his own actions, while at other times he is referred to as ill-fated and a victim of evil-fortune. Which do you believe Okonkwo believes is true? What do you think Achebe thinks is true? 25. It is said on the back of the novel: “… Achebe’s keen awareness of the human qualities typical to guys of all times and locations. What are those qualities? 26. The villagers think– or pretend to think– that the “Supreme Court” of the nine egwugwu are ancestral spirits. In fact, they are men of the town in disguise. What does this say about the nature of justice in general, and in this town in specific? 27. Do you think Achebe’s unique as being mainly concerned with black versus white stress? If not, what else is going on here? 28. Specific elements of the clan’s religious practice, such as the mutilation of a dead child to prevent its spirit from returning, may impress us as being barbaric.
Casting an honest eye on our own religious practices, which ones might appear barbaric or strange to an outsider? 29. In an essay Achebe states: “Here then is a sufficient revolution for me to espouse– to assist my society restore belief in itself and put away the complexes of the years of denigration and self-abasement.” In what ways do you feel that this novel locations Achebe closer to the satisfaction of this goal? 30. Talk about the sacrifice of Ikemefuma as being a parallel to the crucifixion of Jesus. 31. Of among the goddesses, it is said: “It was not the exact same Chielo who sat with her in the market … Chielo was not a woman that night. What do you make from this culture where people can be both themselves and likewise presume other personas? Can you consider any parallels in your own world? 32. There are numerous sayings related throughout the course of the narrative. Recalling specific ones, what function do you view these sayings as fulfilling in the life of the Ibo? What do you speculate Achebe’s purpose to be in the addition of them here? 33. While the conventional figure of Okonkwo can in no doubt be seen as the central figure in the tale, Achebe chooses to relate his story in the third person rather than the first person narrative design.
What benefits does he gain by adopting this technique? 34. The District Commissioner is going to title his work The Pacification of the Primitive People of the Niger. What do you analyze from this to be his understanding of Okonkwo and individuals of Umuofia? 35. What function does religious beliefs play in the failure of Umuofia? Discuss Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith’s approaches of evangelization. 36. Critics have actually recommended that Things Fall Apart has a universal appeal. Do you concur? Describe your response with examples from the text.