Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebethingsfall

You may be surprised that I’ve never had to read this book for a class. Most people I know were assigned to read it at some point. I guess in all my linguistics/family history/English/sociology majors, we never got around to it – which, I’ll say now, is too bad. I would have liked discussing it with a big group of people.

The Romgi has been recommending Things Fall Apart for a while. He told me it’s really sad. I mentioned the book to a friend recently who said it’s depressing. Naturally, I was prepared for a horrifically sad, depressing story; but with only 10 pages left to go, I hadn’t come across anything of the sort and wondered if the Romgi was thinking of another book or if the last few pages were going to be extra intense (and sad).

Actually, the book made me angry. Not sad or depressed. Just angry that there is so much tendency to force our ideologies on others whenever we feel that their ways are inferior to ours. (I will not get into politics here.) A combination of the way I was raised, my religious views, and my excellent sociological training has shaped the way I perceive the world, and I really think that for the structures of society, economics, and culture, there isn’t one “right” way of doing things. Capitalism works well in the U.S. (more or less), but that doesn’t mean it’s the only acceptable economic system or that it’s right for everyone else. Same with the type of government we have. Same with western culture. Just because it’s what We do (and, sadly, usually We = Europeans and their descendants) does not mean it’s what They should do.

Ok, that being said, Things Fall Apart is also an incredibly interesting book to read because of the writing style. Very different from anything I’ve read before. And definitely enjoyable.

I didn’t mean to suggest that I disliked the book at all – just that it made me angry. Especially because so many people have read the book, become sad or angry or depressed because of the mindset of the colonial powers, and still today are convinced that in many ways We are superior to Them and They need our help to be brought out of their backwards culture/economy/society. Wrong.

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2 thoughts on “Things Fall Apart

  1. KHL says:

    I read the book because Kendy needed someone to discuss it with. I probably got angry but quickly went on to depressed because situations like that have occurred, and they still occur. And that’s sad to me. There are still many things that I hear about in our own society and others, where first I’m angry and want to go out and protest, and then I’m sad because even if I could be a full-time rabblerouser, there are more problems to fix than I can handle. In spite of all the “one person can make a difference” lines, it’s usually not a worldwide difference. I suppose I ought to be content to make my own sphere a little better.

  2. Kendy says:

    It’s been an awfully long time since I read it, but I definitely remember being both sad and angry. I also remember thinking that it was great to read this before reading Cry, The Beloved Country. It made for an interesting view into how things had gone on, even though they were in very different parts of Africa. I think I still have my copy, I might give it another read.

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