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Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart


by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart Theme of Man and the Natural World

As an agricultural society, the survival of the Umuofia depends on the earth and its predictable cycle of seasons. Thus we see frequent worship of the earth and her bounty, especially at the new year and during harvest season. The Igbo also reap the earth’s wealth in rather economical and effective ways – tapping trees for palm-wine, capitalizing off of locust plagues, and making medicine with herbs. Human beings are implicitly viewed as the children of the earth, though the conduct of the white men throws doubt on that assumption. In addition to being generous, the earth can also be deadly and is ruthless and not provide food and resources if offended in some way by human actions.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. In terms of gender, how is the earth represented? Which of the earth’s qualities support this gender characterization?
  2. What role do folktales play in explaining natural phenomenon? How do they characterize animals?
  3. Are Umuofia people depicted as a harmonious part of nature or a disruption of it? How? And what about the white man?
  4. What emotions do the Umuofia feel toward the earth?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Umuofia live in fear and reverence of the natural world.

The Umuofia see themselves as a part of the natural world.

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