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Things Fall Apart Short Summary

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The story is written by Chinua Achebe and gives the details of the rise and fall of Okonkwo, the main protagonist. Additionally, the reader gets to learn about the culture of the Igbo people of Nigeria. Read more below.

A Complete Plot Overview of the Story

Most of the events in the novel take place in Umuofia. It is a place with people who value their traditions. Okonkwo, a previously unknown man, rises to a position where he is considered successful. He has three wives, plenty of food in his barn and is in full control of his family affairs.

When the neighboring village offends Umuofia, the other village avoids war by offering Umuofia a virgin and young boy. Ikemefuna, the boy is to be sacrificed. Meanwhile, he lives in the household of Okonkwo. During his stay, he becomes part of Okonkwo’s family and even calls him ‘father.’ Okonkwo realizes that the boy is stronger than his son Nwoye and grows fond of him. Being a traditional man, Okonkwo does not show his affection to the boy openly. Nwoye sees Ikemefuna as a brother.

The Oracle finally says that the boy should be Ikemefuna should be killed. Since the boy refers to Okonkwo as ‘father’ the instruction is that Okonkwo should not be part of his death. When Okonkwo kills the boy, he feels guilty and is unable to sleep for several days. To atone for his offense, he is sent to exile for seven years. Here, he begins rebuilding his life. He has received warms. Obierika keeps visiting Okonkwo in exile.

Missionaries come to the villages and tell the people that the gods they believe in are false. The point is to convert the villagers to Christianity. Mr. Brown, the lead missionary, does not want those who have been converted to bring antagonism to the clan. Reverend James comes later and is too strict. Because of the conflicts that begin, Egwugwu burns Smith’s church. The act leads to the jailing of Umuofia leaders.

After the release of the elders, missionary messengers are sent to the village. Okonkwo kills one of them while others are allowed to escape. He feels that the clan members are against the killing and commits suicide. Obierika explains to the commissioner that suicide is a serious offense in the land and none of the clan members are allowed to touch the dead body. The commissioner finds Okonkwo’s resistance to an interesting story.

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