Things Fall Apart Reading Guide (Seminar)

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Things Fall Apart Reading Guide (Seminar)
TFA Reading Schedule (This schedule notes your reading homework for each night. Expect reading checks or related activities on the material the following day.)

Dec. 7 (Tues) - Background Notes and Reading

Dec. 8 (Wed.) – Chapters 1-3

Dec. 9 (Thurs) – Chapters 4-6

Dec. 10 (Fri.) – Chapters 7-8
Dec. 13. (Mon.) – Chapters 9-10

Dec. 14 (Tues.) – Chapters 11-13

Dec. 15 (Wed.) – Part I Review

Dec. 16 (Thurs.) – TFA Part I Test


You will be responsible for completing the novel over Winter Break. Enjoy! Read at your own pace!

Be prepared for a Seminar discussion to wrap up the unit when you return.


“Historical and Cultural Context” Questions

  1. What is the setting of Things Fall Apart?

  1. Why were the Igbo difficult for the British to take over?

  1. Name the three stages through which the British conquer the Igbo?

  1. Describe how the world of Things Fall Apart is “oppressively patriarchal.”

  1. What are the three sources of authority in Igbo society?

  1. What type of government do the Igbo people have? Who rules each clan?

  1. Explain the concept of the Egwugwu.

  1. Explain the concept of gods and oracles. Who is a main god for the Igbo?

Chapters 1-2 Questions

  1. What accomplishments have helped to make Okonkwo a great man of the village?

  1. Compare and contrast Okonkwo with his father, Unoka. Why do you think Okonkwo feels as he does toward his father?

  1. Okonkwo is a wealthy man and a noble. What are the signs of his wealth?

  1. How doe the men of Umofia decide what to do about the murder of a woman from their clan? What role do the women of Umofia have in the decision?

  1. According to Achebe, what emotion dominates Okonkwo’s life? What is the source of this emotion?

  1. Achebe tells us, “Among the Ibo . . . proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” This statement itself is a proverb. How do you interpret it?

Chapters 3-4 Questions

  1. Why does Unoka consult the Oracle? What does the Oracle tell him?

  1. What is the Week of Peace? What does Okonkwo do to break it and what action does the clan take?

  1. Who is Nwoye and how does Okonkwo treat him? Describe the relationship between Nwoye and Ikemefuna.

  1. Okonkwo’s first year as a farmer is difficult. How is the difficulty due to Okonkwo’s family history and how was it due to nature?

  1. In a sentence or two, explain the concept of chi. What is the meaning of the proverb, “When a man says yes his chi says yes also?” What does Okonkwo means when he says he challenged his chi?

Chapters 5-6 Questions

  1. When is the Festival of the New Yam held? Explain Okonkwo’s reaction to the festival?

  1. What causes Okonkwo to shoot at Ekwefi? What does this say about Okonkwo?

  1. What is an ilo? How is it used during the Festival?

  1. How do the Ibo treat the winner of the final wresting match? Why are the winners so revered?

  1. When Obiageli broke the pot, how did Okonkwo react and how did you expect him to react? How do you account for any discrepancies?

Chapter 7-8 Questions

  1. How long has Ikemefuna been with the family? Who decides his fate? What does Ezeudu tell Okonkwo about this decision?

  1. In your opinion, did Ikemefuna know what was about to happen? What do Okonkwo’s actions reveal about him?

  1. How does Okonkwo feel about his daughter Ezinma? Why?

  1. Describe the scene between Okonkwo and Obierika. List two things you learn about Ibo culture from this scene and two things about the characters.

  1. Analyze Okonkwo’s idea of masculinity? Do you think Okonkwo’s ideas of masculinity are typical of Ibo society, or are they extreme?

  1. At the end of the discussion among Okonkwo and his friends, what major historical event is foreshadowed? What peculiar belief about white people is expressed?

Chapter 9-10 Questions

  1. Why does Ekwefi have a bitter attitude about life? Describe her relationship with Ezinma. What does Okonkwo do to help Ezinma?

  1. An ogbanje is a changeling, a child who repeatedly dies and returns. How can humans defeat an obanje’s wickedness? What do these beliefs reveal about Ibo society?

  1. Who are the judges in the legal case in Chapter 10, and how do they behave? Do you feel the judges decision is fair?

  1. In your opinion, do the people of Umuofia know what is behind the egwugwu masks or not? Find textual evidence to support your answer?

Chapter 11 Questions

  1. Achebe devotes several pages to Ekwefi’s folktale. Why do you think he chose to include the tale?

  1. Chielo, the priestess, interrupts the story-telling. What announcement does she make? Where does she take Ezinma? Why do you think the Oracle called for Ezinma?

  1. How does Okonkwo react when the priestess first makes her announcement? What actions does he take later and what do they show about his character?

Chapter 12-13 Questions

  1. What does the priestess do with Ezinma after emerging from the cave?

  1. What joyous ceremony takes place the day after the return from the cave? While preparing for ceremony, what do the men of Umuofia discuss at the market and what does this discussion show about them?

  1. What sorrowful news does the drum announce?

  1. What terrible accident occurs at the funeral and what happens to Okonkwo’s family as a result?

  1. In your opinion, why did Achebe choose to end Part One the way he did? What aspects of the funeral ceremony make it possible for dangerous accidents to occur? How is this accident related to the infiltration of Western technology into a traditional culture?

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