Things Fall Apart - Chapters One and Two

Chapters One and Two - Reading Guide
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Chapters One and Two - Reading Guide

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

Where exactly in Africa is Nigeria and what did it look like in pre-colonial times? Well, of course, Nigeria, as a country did not exist in the 1800s as that part of the world was focused on tribal cultures. During the 19th century, Africa was colonized by the European powers and thus the modern nations that we know today were created as part of the empires of the European colonizers.

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

In pairs:
Find out which European countries colonized Africa and what impact this had on native cultures.

Slide 3 - Tekstslide

Slide 4 - Tekstslide

Slide 5 - Video

Setting (Time and Place) 
  • Time: The book is set in the 1890s, but was first published in 1958, 2 years before Nigeria was granted full independence from British rule.

  • Place: Lower Nigerian villages of Iguedo and Mbanta

Slide 6 - Tekstslide

Part One: 
Concerns Okonkwo and a description of Igbo Culture.

What can you remember from last week's introduction about Igbo Culture? 

Let's Look At Chaper One...............

Slide 7 - Tekstslide

How is Okonkwo presented to the reader at the beginning of the novel?
Page 3: Okonkwo's fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan (a very dry, dusty easterly or north-easterly wind on the West African coast, occurring from December to February). 
  • He was tall and huge ..... he had a severe look, he had a bad temper
  • He seemed to walk on springs

  • He did not like unsuccessful men, he has a bad relationship with his father, Unoka. He was not at all like his father. 
  • He was a great wrestler, he was a wealthy farmer with three wives P.7
  • He was famous and  young 

Slide 8 - Tekstslide

Unoka ( Okonkwo's father)
Characteristics: page 4
  • a drunkard, he was lazy
  • tall but walks with a stoop
  • he was frightened of the sight of blood
  • good at playing the flute, he was good with words
  • had a miserable expression
  • he always owed people money

Slide 9 - Tekstslide

Chapter Two
Let's look at the importance of the language in the book: 
Achebe elevates Ibo speech by writing formal, polite dialogue with no shortened forms. (p5)
The language is rich in proverbs "proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten" (p.6)= The metaphor of words as food  shows that the Igbo award the same value that they place on food,  to words, 

Slide 10 - Tekstslide

A snake was never called by it's name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string. (p9)
Proverb: When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk

Slide 11 - Tekstslide

More about Okonkwo
In addition to being a skilled warrior, Okonkwo is quite wealthy. He supports three wives and eight children, and each wife has her own hut. Okonkwo also has a barn full of yams, a shrine for his ancestors, and his own hut, called an obi.

Slide 12 - Tekstslide

Check your understanding
In Pairs: Help each other answer the following question:
 How does Ikemefuna become Okonkwo’s adopted son?

Slide 13 - Tekstslide

Ikemefuna becomes Okonkwo’s adopted son through a dispute between the village of Umuofia and a neighboring village, Mbaino. After a woman from Umuofia is murdered in the Mbaino market, Okonkwo travels to Mbaino and demands that the village surrender a virgin and a young man in order to avoid war with Umuofia. Mbaino complies, and upon return to Umuofia, Okonkwo turns the young man, Ikemefuna, over to his first wife for safekeeping.

Slide 14 - Tekstslide

Read to the end of Chapter 2 (page 15) before Tuesday the 18th of January.

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Chapters 1-2 Questions
1. What accomplishments have helped to make Okonkwo a great man of the village?
2. Compare and contrast Okonkwo with his father, Unoka. Why do you think Okonkwo feels as
he does toward his father?
3. Okonkwo is a wealthy man and a noble. What are the signs of his wealth?
4. How do 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?
5. According to Achebe, what emotion dominates Okonkwo’s life? What is the source of this
6. 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?

Slide 16 - Tekstslide