Things Fall Apart: Study Questions Chapters 1-25
Why was Okonkwo famous?
He was a well know successful wrestler when he was young. As an adult, he was a wealthy farmer & strong warrior
Okonkwo’s father. He was lazy & improvident. Constantly borrowed money that he didn’t repay.
Why had the men of Umuofia called a meeting?
The men of Mbaino, a neighboring village, had murdered a woman of Umuofia, and the men wanted revenge.
Where does the story take place?
Village of Umuofia, in Africa.
What influence did the oracle have on decisions made in Umuofia?
The men didn’t go to war unless the reason was accepted by the oracle.
What were Okonkwo’s greatest fear and greatest passion?
He was afraid he would resemble his father. His greatest passion was to hate everything his father loved.
What upset Okonkwo most about his son, Nwoye?
Nwoe was lazy, not ambitious like him.
What did Okonkwo bring home from his trip to Mbaino?
Brought home a boy from the village named Ikemefuna.
How did Okonkwo being his prosperous career?
He took gifts to a wealthy man in the village and asked him for yam seed.
How did Ikemefuna react to living with Okonkwo’s family?
First, he tried to run away, and refused to eat. The family treated him well and he began to get used to living with them.
What unheard of thing did Okonkwo do during the Week of Peace?
He beat his second wife.
How did the people view yams?
Yams stood for manliness, and one who could feed his family on yams all year was a great man.
Describe the Feast of the New Yam.
The Feast of the New Yam was held yearly before the harvest. It honored the earth goddess, Ani, and the ancestral spirits of the clan. New yams were offered to these powers. The old yams of the previous year were disposed of. All cooking and serving utensils were washed. Yam foo-foo and vegetable soup were the main ceremonial dishes.
Who was Okonkwo’s favorite child, and what did he often say about the child?
His favorite child was Ezinma, daughter of Ekwefi. He often said it was a shame she wasn’t a boy.
What unacceptable thing did Okonkso do just before the Feast of the New Yam?
He beat his second wife, Ekwefi, and then fired his gun at her.
Who was Chielo, and why was she important?
She was the priestess of Agbala, the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves
What sport did the villagers enjoy watching during their feasting?
They enjoyed watching the young men of the village wrestle.
What influence did Ikemefuna have on Nwoye?
Ikemefuna acted as an elder brother. He made Nwoye feel grown up. Nwoye began acting more like a man.
How did Okonkwo feel about Ikemefuna’s influcence on Nwoye?
He was inwardly pleased, although he would not show it. He did, however, invite the boys to sit with him and told them stories of the land
How did the villagers feel about the coming of the locusts, and what did they do about it?
They were delighted to have the locusts. They caught as many as possible, roasted them, and ate them as a delicacy.
What did the village decide to do with Ikemefuna?
The oracle decided that the villagers should kill him.
Who struck the last blow to Ikemefuna, and why?
Okonkwo did, because he was afraid of being thought weak.
What did Okonkwo do whenever he thought of his father’s weakness and failure?
He thought of his own strength and success.
What did Okonkwo tell himself about his part in Ikemefuna’s death?
He said he was becoming a woman. A man who had killed five men in battle should not fall to pieces over the death of a boy.
What did Obierika tell Okonkwo about his part in Ikemefuna’s death?
Obierika said it was the kind of action that would not please the Earth; that the goddess would wipe out an entire family for such an action.
Describe the meeting to Obierika’s daughter’s bride price.
The suitor, Ibe, his father, Ukegbu, and uncle met with Obierika, his brothers, his son, and Okonkwo. They ate kola nuts and drank palm wine. Then Obierika gave Ukegbu a bundle of thirty short broomsticks. Ukegbu and his clan took the sticks outside. When they returned they gave a bundle of fifteen sticks to Obierika. He added ten more sticks and gave the bundle back. The two groups finally agreed at a bride-price of twenty bags of cowries.
The men began discussing rumors about white men. Who did the men think the white men were?
The polite word for leprosy was “the white skin.” The men in the hut thought the white men were lepers.
Describe the relationship between Ekwefi and Ezinma.
It was more like the companionship of equals, rather than that of mother and daughter.
Describe Ekwefi’s difficulties in getting pregnant.
She had borne ten children, but nine of them had died in infancy. She began giving them names like “Death, I implore you” and “May it not happen again.”
What did the medicine man tell Okonkwo after the death of Ekwefi’s second child?
He said there was an ogbanje, a wicked child who, when it died, re-entered its mother’s womb to be born again. He said Ekwefi should go and stay with her people when she became pregnant again.
Describe the burial of Ekwefi’s third child, and the reason for it.
The medicine man ordered that there be no mourning or funeral. He mutilated the dead child and buried it in the Evil forest. He said this would make the ogbanje think about coming again.
Explain the significance of Ezinma’s iyi-uwa.
This was a special kind of stone that formed the link between an ogbanje and the spirit world. If it were discovered, then the child would not die. When Okagbue found Ezinma’s iyi-uwa, the people knew Ezinma’s troubles were over.
How did Okonkwo cure Ezinma’s iba illness?
He brewed a potion made of leaves and herbs then put her over the steam.
What was the purpose of the ceremony described in Chapter 10?
A woman’s birth family was having a dispute with her husband because he was mistreating her. The only decision the man would accept in the case was that of the symbolic meeting of the clan spirits.
What did Chielo want with Ezinma?
Chielo wanted to take Ezinma to see Agbala.
What did Ekwefi do?
She followed Chielo and Ezinma to the cave of Agbala.
What did Okonkwo do when Chielo took Ezinma?
He followed her too with his machete.
What was the purpose of the uri ceremony?
The family of the suitor was bringing palm-wine to Obierika and his extensive group of ofkinsmen.
What was the significance in the amount of wine the family brought?
They were thought to be behaving like men if they brought a generous amount
What happened at the end of the ceremony?
The bride-to-be went to live with her suitor’s family for seven market weeks.
Describe Ezeudu’s funeral.
He was the clan elder so there was a big ceremony with lots of shouting, drumbeating, and gun shots.
How did the author describe a man’s life?
A man’s life was a series of transition rites which brought him closer to and his ancestors.
What happened during the frenzy?
Okonkwo accidentally shot a boy.
What was the result of Okonkwo action?
He and his family were forced to leave the clan for seven years. The men from Exeudu’s quarter demolished Okonkwo’s houses and barn, and killed his animals.
What was the reason for the clan’s actions against Okonkwo?
They were cleansing the land which Okonkwo had polluted although it was not revenge.
What did Obierika think about after this calamity, and what was his conclusion?
He wondered why a man should suffer because of an inadvertent mistake. He also wondered why he had to throw away his wife’s twins when they were born. He concluded that the clan had to punish offenses so that the Earth would not lose her wrath on all the land, instead of just on the offender.
Where did Okonkwo take his family to live?
He took them to live with his mother’s kinsmen in Mbanta.
How did Okonkwo feel about his circumstances?
He thought his personal god or chi was not meant for great things. He was feeling despair.
Why did Uchendu talk to Okonkwo about the Mother Supreme?
He wanted Okonkwo to realize that his despair was not that great, and that he owed it to his family to comfort and support them. He told Okonkwo not to refuse comfort in his mother’s homeland, or he would displease the dead.
4. Who came to visit Okonkwo during the second year of exile, and why?
Obierika came to bring Okonkwo news of the village and money from the yam crop he was tending until Okonkwo returned home.
Briefly retell the story of the destruction of Abame.
A white man riding an iron horse had come to the village. The elders killed the manand tied his iron horse to their sacred tree. A few months later, three white men come, saw the iron horse and left again. A few weeks later, on market day, the white men surrounded the market and killed all of the people there.
What was Obierika’s reaction to the story?
He said he was afraid because he had heard other stories about white men with powerful guns who took men away as slaves.
What event did Obierika describe on his next visit, two years later?
The missionaries had come to Umuofia. They had built a church, won convers, and were sending evangelists to surrounding villages
Who had Obierika found among the missionaries?
He found Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye.
What was the iron horse?
It was a bicycle
Where did the missionaries in Mbanta build their church, why were they given that particular piece of land, and what happened to them?
The villagers gave the missionaries land in the Evil Forest, because they didn’t really want them, and they thought the missionaries would decline the offer. When the missionaries were alive and well when the villagers expected them to be dead, they won more converts.
What was it about Nwoye’s actions that disturbed Okonkwo so much?
He was concerned that Nwoye and his other male children would abandon their ancestors. He pictured himself and his fathers waiting in vain for worship and sacrifice.
What group wanted to be admitted to the Christian church, and what happened?
the osu or outcasts wanted to be admitted. Mr. Kiaga agreed on the condition that they shave their long tangled hair. They did so and survived and became strong proponents of the faith.
Describe the incident with the sacred python.
the sacred python was the most revered animal in the area. It was thought to be the emanation of the god of water. No one had ever even thought of killing it. One of the former outcasts now a Christian had allegedly killed the sacred python, although it was never proved. The elders decided to ostracize the Christians. Soon after this decision, the alleged killer died, and the clan agreed not to bother the other Christians.
What did Okonkwo do before he left Mbanta when his exile was ended?
He held a great feast to thank his mother’s kinsmen for their hospitality.
What was the one elder’s message to those at the feast?
He told them he feared for their generation because they didn’t understand how strong the bonds of kinship should be. He was concered because they had let this strange religion start to break apart their clans.
How did Okonkwo feel about his return to the clan?
he knew that he had lost a lot of ground, but he was determined to return with a flourish, and regain the lost time.
What message did Okonkwo give to his sons and daughters after Nwoye left the family?
He told his sons if they were going to be weak and follow Nwoye, they should do it while he was alive. If they turned against him after he died, he would return and break their necks. He asked his daughters to wait until they returned to Umuofia to marry.
Describe the changes that had come to Umuofia in the seven years that Okonkwo was in exile.
The Christian church had many converts. The white men had brought a government and built a court. The new prison was full of men who had broken the white men’s laws.
Okonkwo asked Obierika why the people had lost their power to fight. What was Obierika’s reply?
He said that too many of their people had joined with the white men in their religion and in upholding their laws. The white men managed to divide the clans and they were falling apart.
How did many of the other villagers feel about these changes?
They liked the trading store and the resultant money that was coming into Umuofia. They were also starting to think that the religion had some substance.
What was Mr. Brown’s conclusion about the religion of the clan? How did he act to gain converts?
He decided a frontal attack would not work. Instead, he built a school and a hospital. When the people began seeing results from their schooling, and had illnesses healed, they began converting.
About what was Okonkwo grieving?
He mourned for the clan because it was falling apart. He also mourned for the men, because he thought they were getting soft, like women.
Describe the conflict started by Enoch.
Enoch publicly unmasked one of the egwugwu, thus killing an ancestral spirit. The rest of the masked egwugwu destroyed Enoch’s compound, then headed for the church. They destroyed the church, but let Mr. Smith and the others live.
What was the result of the action taken by the egwuguw?
Okonkwo and five of the leaders were imprisoned by the District Commissioner. The village of Umuofia was fined 200 bags of cowries.
How did Okonkwo feel when he returned from the white man’s prison?
He was full of hate and bitterness, and wanted revenge.
Why did the men meet in the market place?
They met to discuss what their course of action should be.
What event happened in the marketplace?
Five court messengers came to stop the meeting. Okonkwo decapitated one of them.
What happened to Okonkwo?
He hanged himself.
What did Obierika tell the Commissioner?
Obierika said that the Commissioner had driven Okonkwo to kill himself.
What was the Commissioner’s reaction to the incident?
He thought about how he could use the incident as material in his book.