Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Okonkwo Timeline and Summary
- Okonkwo grows up resenting his father’s laziness and devotes all his time to proving his own respectability and masculinity – qualities his father lacks.
- At age 18, Okonkwo beats a champion wrestler named the Cat.
- Okonkwo goes to Nwakibie to borrow seed yams and start his own farm. The year is a series of natural disasters but Okonkwo survives and vows that he will survive anything.
- Okonkwo is given charge of Ikemefuna for three years.
- During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo commits the crime of beating his wife. This is his first crime against the earth. As punishment, he is told to make a ritual sacrifice, which he does.
- A few days before the new year, Okonkwo threatens his second wife Ekwefi with a gun.
- The clan leaders inform Okonkwo that they are going to kill Ikemefuna, his adopted son. Though it is not required, Okonkwo participates in the murder. Guilt haunts him.
- When his daughter Ezinma falls sick, Okonkwo frantically makes medicine and does everything in his power to save his favorite child.
- Okonkwo participates as a masked egwugwu in a series of court-like trials as a judge.
- Okonkwo follows Chielo the priestess and Ekwefi when the priestess unexpectedly abducts Ezinma. This is the second time we see Okonkwo openly showing compassion and genuine concern for Ezinma.
- At Ezedu’s funeral, Okonkwo accidentally shoots and kills a boy. For his crime, he is sentenced to seven years exile. This is his second crime against the earth.
- In Mbanta, Okonkwo is chastised by Uchendu for dishonoring his motherland by acting so depressed about his exile.
- From Obierika, Okonkwo gets news about the coming of the white men and later hears about Nwoye being among the Christian converts in Umuofia.
- We flashback to the point when Okonkwo first learned about Nwoye converting to Christianity.
- Okonkwo hears through the grapevine that Nwoye has been spending time with the Christians.
- Okonkwo attacks his son and demands to know where he’s been (the answer is with the Christians). Though Uchendu prevents Okonkwo from further harming Nwoye, Okonkwo disowns his son.
- Okonkwo hosts a feast in Mbanta in gratitude to Uchendu and his family.
- Upon his return to Umuofia, Okonkwo has a conversation with Obierika about the Christians and Okonkwo despairs over the disunity of the clan.
- At this point, Okonkwo becomes more passive than he has ever been before, watching and lamenting the coming of the missionaries while unable to do anything.
- In reaction to Enoch’s crime of unmasking an egwugwu, Okonkwo and the other leaders of Umuofia retaliate by destroying the missionaries’ church. Okonkwo had advised violent action, even to the point of killing the missionaries, though the group only ended up burning down the church.
- When invited by the District Commissioner to discuss the recent destruction of the church, Okonkwo and five other leaders go to meet the official and are ambushed.
- In prison, Okonkwo is singled out to be beaten. Upon his release, he vows revenge, even if he is not supported by the clan.
- During a village conference contemplating war, Okonkwo kills a messenger sent by the District Commissioner.
- When he sees that the Umuofia don’t support him, he knows it means they will not go to war. This realization drives him to suicide – his third and final offense against the earth.