Free Study Guide Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe BookNotes|
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THINGS FALL APART PLOT SUMMARY
The reader can see that underneath Okonkwo’s rough exterior lies a sensitive person, who hurts at the death of Ikemefuna, who was like a son to him. Yet at the same time that he is seen as mourning Ikemefuna, he is also seen berating himself for expressing his emotions. Nwoye, his son, refuses to come near him and is frightened and distrustful of this man who would kill a young man he was fond of. Okonkwo’s behavior is offputting to him so he leaves to find a sympathetic ear. Only his friend Obierika also does not approve of what he has done and tells him so. Obierika sees that some manly actions or ways of the tribe are to be rejected for a higher, more humanitarian culture. Although his visit to his friend makes him feel better, Okonkwo’s rigid adherence to society’s rules are in marked contrast to Oberieka’s more mutable outlook on how society must change if a law appears unjust or outdated. This conversation shows Okonkwo’s increasing distance from his friends and family.
The ceremony of the young man coming to see the young womanl is described in detail and reveals the economics of marriage as well as the elaborate courting rituals that occur in this society. Much is made of the woman’s beauty which is accentuated by her elaborate body designs and jewelry. Her coiffure is elaborate as well as her jewelry and skin which is rubbed with wood and designed in black patterns all over all meant to sell her to the young man and increase her price.
The decision over the number of cowries to be given is made in a very diplomatic and judicious manner. Each party respecting the other yet attempting to get the best bargain. The exchanging of sticks as a complex kind of negotiating refutes common stereotypes that African cultures are primitive and uncivilized.
A somewhat trivial conversation about white men ends the chapter and reveals the Igbo attitudes towards them, their lack of contact with them as well as their negative perception of them as seen in equating them with lepers.
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. 15 May 2008