ENGL 2210 World Literature II

Achebe: "Things fall apart" Study Guide, Chapters 1-3

Chapter 1
  1. How does Okonkwo gain his fame?
  2. What are his characteristics: physical and personality?
  3. Contrast Okonkwo with his father. What are his father's characteristics? Why is he considered a failure?
Chapter 2
  1. When the villages gather for a meeting they are addressed by a man whom the narrator describes as a "powerful orator", which is the reason why he was always chosen to speak at such occasions. What characteristics do you think a good orator should have? Why are those characteristics important? Why do societies need good orators? Or do they? Do you know of any good orators from history?
  2. What was the meeting about?
  3. The villagers decide to follow the "normal course of action". What is the normal course of action for a situation like this? What do you think of this type of action as a way to solve conflicts among villages, clans, or even countries. Think of at least two positive outcomes.
  4. How was the conflict finally solved?
  5. What did Okonkwo fear most? How is this reflected in his behavior?
  6. What is Okonkwo's attitude toward his son?
  7. The narrator says that Okonkwo's prosperity is visible? What defines him as a prosperous man?
  8. Read the paragraph at the bottom of page 2865 and try to visualize Okonkwo's compound. Make a drawing, it it's more helpful. What's your opinion of this type of a family arrangement? Can you think of any benefits?
Chapter 3
  1. What is the Oracle of Agbala, and why did people go to visit it?
  2. Describe the physical place and the ritual surrounding seeing the Oracle.
  3. What did Unoka want to find out from the Oracle? What advice did the oracle give him?
  4. What is a chi, and what kind of a chi did Unoka have?
  5. How did Unoka die and what was his burial like? How are diseased and dying people treated in the tribe?
  6. How does one pay respect when visiting someone's family? What are some typical gestures? What beneficial social function do you think such gestures might have?
  7. What privileges are govern to a man's first wife?
  1. Slippery as a fish.
  2. His fame had grown like bush-fire in harmattan wind.
  3. Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.
  4. The sun will shine on those who stand, before it shines on those who who kneel under them.
  5. If a child washes his hands, he could eat with kings.
  6. When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.
  7. When a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm.
  8. A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness.
  9. It's like pouring grains of corn into bags full of holes.
  1. Don't whistle at night for fear of evil spirits.
  2. Don't call a snake by its name because it might hear. Call it "string"