Study Guide

Things Fall Apart Genre

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Tragedy, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

As you might guess from the title, Things Fall Apart is a tragedy. It tells the story of an African clan being invaded by outsiders and falling to pieces. The novel also tells the story of Okonkwo, a man of wealth and status who nonetheless has a tragic flaw – fear of being perceived as weak – which leads him to make many poor life decisions. Eventually sent into exile, our protagonist is not in his home village when the outsiders – white missionaries – first arrive. Thus he is not able to save his people during the early stages of danger. In the end, because of he lacks the ability to save his tribe, Okonkwo kills himself. As stated by his best friend, Okonkwo’s death is tragic because white men drove a good man to kill himself. Okonkwo’s personal failings might also have had a hand in it.

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