Teaching things fall apart
If one finger brought oil – things fall apart part 1: crash
Before we begin discussing Heart of Darkness, I have my first-year undergraduate students think about the word Africa and make a list of everything that comes to mind. The board looked the same a few weeks ago as it always does: Then I ask students to look for themes. They point out that the majority of the things on the list are negative, such as illness, poverty, and war. The benefits are frequently animal-related. (The Lion King always appears in the first ten items.) But there’s a recurring trend of scarcity that I’m noticing.
This practice allows us to discuss the dangers of seeing Africa as a monolithic, amorphous landmass rather than a continent made up of 54 nations. I even brought in one of my daughter’s books with a “African Animals” page. We don’t use the title at home. The page is now titled “Animals You Might See on Safari.” I remind students that the African countries are completely different places with completely different languages, government structures, issues, arts, literatures, and so on.
Chinua achebe: things fall apart – the context
Although determining whether art imitates life or life imitates art is not always simple, one thing is certain: art imitates art. Time and time again. Let me give you an example. The title of Chinua Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart was inspired by a line from William Butler Yeats’ poem The Second Coming. The Roots, an American hip-hop group, then used Achebe’s title as the title of their Grammy-winning album in 1999. You’ll notice that these three pieces of art—Yeats’ poem, Achebe’s book, and The Roots’ album—have more in common than a borrowed word if you look closely. That is exactly what your students would do. They’ll think about how artists from different eras and places influence each other, and then apply what they’ve learned to create their own art (a song, dramatic performance, poem, painting, etc.) influenced by Things.
Things fall apart by chinua achebe | part 1, chapter 5
“The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa have resulted in a body of literature that portrays Africa and Africans in a negative light. The need to justify the slave trade and slavery was the justification for this…. This continued until, in the mid-twentieth century, Africans themselves took control of the telling of their own story.”
Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, is one of the most well-known and influential contemporary authors. Things Fall Apart (1958), his first book, is an early account of European colonization of Africa told from the perspective of the colonized. The book, which was first published in 1958, tells the story of Okonkwo, a warrior and village hero, as well as the arrival of white missionaries in his Igbo village and their influence on African life and culture at the turn of the century. Achebe’s writing reclaims his and his people’s heritage by countering representations of African cultures and communities as they are portrayed in the Western literary tradition.
Things fall apart, part 2: crash course literature 209
Things Fall Apart is the debut novel by celebrated author Chinua Achebe. This novel, widely regarded as the most influential book in modern African literature, vividly portrays European colonialism in Nigeria, offering a wide range of discussion topics, from colonialism’s morality to the rivalry between traditional and Western ideologies. Students will benefit from a history lesson on the Igbo people as well as colonial and pre-colonial Nigeria.
The disintegration of the Igbo people’s traditions and the protagonist’s tragic end are examples of Achebe’s deft prose exposing the insidiously devastating consequences of colonialism on native communities. Students will be haunted by Okonkwo’s story and thought-provoking topics of debate, such as colonialism, masculinity, language, family, and communalism, just as the ghost of colonialism haunts modern-day Africa.
The title of the novel is a reference to William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” in which Yeats explains the culmination of one civilization and the beginning of another. Consider going through the entire poem with your students to get a better understanding of Okonkwo’s character, as the feelings conveyed in the piece mirror those felt by Okonkwo as he sees his village fall to colonialism.