Things Fall Apart, Parts II & III

Comment here for the second half of Things Fall Apart.  Think about this for next time–what strikes you as most different about the second half of the novel from the first?

Incidentally, obviously our reading for this semester, given the breadth it has to cover, has to be representative about its texts.  Of course, there are lots of other excellent writers out there.  I’m going to try to list some as we go along the class.  African lit. isn’t really my wheelhouse, but here are some of the other lions of Anglophone African literature (north of South Africa, which we’ll hit later):

Nigeria: Wole Soyinka (primarily a playwright, major works include Death and the King’s Horseman, The Lion and the Jewel, and Kongi’s Harvest)–first African Nobel literature laureate.
Christopher Okigbo (poet, major work Labyrinths With Path of Thunder)
Amos Tutuola (novelist, major work The Palm-Wine Drinkard)
Buchi Emecheta (novelist, major work The Joys of Motherhood)
Ben Okri (novelist, major work The Famished Road)
Kenya: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (primarily novelist, major works include A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood)–prominently rejected Achebe’s call for Africans to write in English mid-career
Ghana: Ama Ata Aidoo (novelist, major work Changes: A Love Story)
Botswana: Bessie Head (novelist, major work A Question of Power)
Zimbabwe: Tsitsi Dangarembga (novelist, major work Nervous Conditions)

Also, here’s the text of the Yeats poem we read today–

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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15 Responses to “Things Fall Apart, Parts II & III”

  1. 12v ah says:

    12v ah

    Things Fall Apart, Parts II & III « Global Literatures in English

  2. hamidah says:

    The first half is about Ibo’s religion, traditions and customs but the second half is about the European taking control and changing up the Ibo’s style of living. First part has many stories to tell but it is mostly about the Ibo’s religion and laws. The second part has a specific story that is being discussed and it is said in detailed.

  3. khaff88 says:

    While reading part I, I noticed that it was focused on Okonkwo’s family background and lifestyle in his clan. We learn a lot about the clan and certain gods and stories. Reading part II and part III there is a separation from Okonkwo his lifestyle and now we are focuse on the entire clan and the growth of Christianity. From time to time we get Okonkwo’s perspective of how the clan reacts to certain situations but it rarely comes up as much as it did in the beginning. Also, there is more English being shown throughout the rest of the book compared to Part I.

  4. javeriasid says:

    I feel like the first half of the book gave the reader a great understanding of the Umofian clan. Achebe really drives this point home by giving the reader a distinct narrative from the protagonist’s point of view. By following around Okonkwo, we realize and understand what the culture and thinking is of the people of that village. We come to understand the religion, culture and taboos. An example of that would be when Okonkwo kills Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s son. After Okwonko is exiled, the second half of the book takes a major turn. The second half of the book really focuses on the resistance of Okwonko and his people to change. The Christian missionaries attempt to convert the people later lead to the “falling apart” of the Umofian tribe. When Okonkwo commits suicide at the end, its kind of a self fufilling prophecy, because he is so scared of failure that he eventually leads to his own downfall. The second half of the book really shows the weakness and lack of unity in the community which really differs from what you are introduced to in the first half. Because Okonkwo is left alone to try and defeat the commissioner.

  5. seanlevine says:

    The second and third part of Achebe’s work illustrated how fragile the Umuofian society was in the face of adversity. On some level the second and third chapters are an exploration of the inadequacies of their society as experienced through the symbolic plight of Onkonkwo. Through his experience the author is perhaps examining the cultures shortcomings; a sentiment which is expressed vividly through the actions/speech of some of the more peripheral characters (Uchendu of Mbanta speaking about the idea’s of motherland vs fatherland and the elder speaking at the feast demarcating the end of Onkonkwo’s exile are both revelatory passages in this regard.). However, I believe that the unfortunate end of Onkonkwo life and the slow dissolution of his native culture isn’t wholly a product of the soft colonization present via missionary work, rather it seems to be an inability to accept new found reality in anything but their historically accepted terms for members of the clan like Onkonkwo and those who shared his ideology.

  6. hernandez says:

    I believe the second and third part of Things Fall Apart is extremely sad. Not for Okonkwo and his down spiralling failure like his father but because it describes how quickly the Ibo World starts to fall apart. Makes it seem like all the folktales, beliefs, and traditions were insignificant and disintegrate overnight. In the first part the Ibo people were so strong willed however they were dropping like flies in the second and third part to the new ways of life. This shows how some people are extremely vulnerable to change and are hungry for something fresh and new.
    Going back to Okonkwo, this man was at his peak of power as a warrior and farmer in part one until his chauvinistic ways started to kick in, in high gear. He was exiled which is the first of many things to show that even though he was trying his hardest he was still falling into his fathers ways rather quickly. Okonkwo’s anxiety was what paved the way to his suicide. The first part shows how he and his people are strong in every sense of the word but in the second and third part it shows how quickly things can fall apart because of enpowering influences.

  7. GordonWTam says:

    Since everyone said what I wanted to say maybe I’ll just say it in a profoundly different way.. Parts 2 and 3 introduced us to the rest of the fictional world. While we were in part 1, the Umuofia tribe was the sun, and the rest of the tribes distant planets. Their gods were right, their priestesses ruled with an iron fist, and we only got brief glimpses (like guns) that there was any kind of outside world. While still looking through the staunch manly view of Okonkwo, parts 2 and 3 show us that there is more to struggle through than just trying not to live in his fathers womanly shadow.

  8. marissae17 says:

    What I found different about Parts 2 and 3 was that they didn’t only focus on Okonkwo and the tribe of Umuofia, but on all of the villages and how they are being taken over by colonization. I thought that this was interesting because for the entire Part 1 of the book, all we heard about was that one tribe and that one family. However, now that Okonkwo has moved away and seperated himself, the story has widened itself to more of the villages and the worry of everybody being colonized.

  9. Jamie Rohr says:

    The second part of the book differed from the first because it focuses more on the outside forces, whereas the first part focused solely on the Ibo World. The fact that Onkonkwo was forced to flee the land and has to come to a new land at the beginning of part two is symbolic. It is immediately showing the shift that is taking place for everyone, Colonization for the whole clan, big changes for each individual. When it says on page 131 ,”his life had been ruled by a great passion- to become one of the lords of the clan. That had been his life spring. and he had all but achieved it. Then everything had been broken.” My understanding is that this could have a double meaning. For Onkonkwo, and on a larger scale the Ibo people as a whole.

  10. mhealy101 says:

    In my opinion, the first part of the novel was different in that it seemed like Chinua Achebe wrote the way he did in order to prep the reader for the second part of the novel. The first part of the novel included a lot of explanation of stories, and descriptions. Maybe Achebe does this so when the reader encounters the second half , we have a better understanding of the events. It also helps the reader make a deeper connection with the characters.

  11. cbergmann says:

    After reading parts II and III of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe I think I was finally able to fully understand what was meant by the quote “And let no one be fooled by the fact that we may write in English for we intend to do unheard of things with it”. In part I of the novel Achebe took the opportunity to fully describe the Ibo culture to the reader and immerse them into the daily lives of the Ibo people. I think the reader was given the opportunity to fully understand and appreciate a culture different from his or her own. Achebe showed us in the first section that the Ibo people had a powerful society whose inner workings provided daily peace for its people. In part III of the novel Achebe talks about the book The Commissioner was to write and he states, “He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” (209). I thought it was extremely clever to end the book with this statement because it shows the reader how narrow minded the Christians where in respect to the culture of the Ibo people. The Ibo, in my opinion, were not primitive by any means; they had a powerful religion, complicated hierarchy, laws, and even a strong ruling body to enforce them. Also I found the use of the word “pacification” to be particularly interesting because by no means did the Christians bring peace or calm among the Ibo people, if anything they did the exact opposite and created pain and confusion. The second part of the novel greatly differed from the first part because the second part created a sense of discomfort for the reader. Although events occurred in the first part that caused trouble among the Ibo people it was properly resolved with the laws of the land. In the second part nothing could be resolved by their traditional ways and everything feel apart for the Ibo people.

  12. Erika says:

    Values were definitely going to clash because each party held on to their beliefs with conviction. The Ibo culture was definitely (to its people), was written in stone and no other religion could stand against it. Instead, Christianity was seen as inferior by these people. Okonkwo held on to his beliefs because it was passed on to him from generations and the fact that some people even considered leaving the religion was ridiculous. Perhaps, the people who considered Christianity saw the flaws of their native religion and the transition into Christianity was made easy.

    Sidebar: Some people realize when something just doesn’t sit right with them and when something or someone comes along to empathize or “shed light” on a situation it makes separation easier.

  13. jerryLaera says:

    I agree with Constantini, Europeans come in and try to convert them to their Christian ideals. This usually ends up in the weaker force being discharged, as the stronger force moves along, only strengthening itself. In order to do this, the Europeans conquered them, subjugated them, and demonized the native’s traditional ways. Even though the main character was the “highest ranking” person, he was considered a nobody in this fresh, new European world. Without Part 1 we wouldn’t feel this sense of grief when we witness this separation and learn of Okonkwo’s result at the end of the novel. The Ibo values were introduced to us in the beginning, we got a sense of how they worked, the unification of the people was strong and inseparable. Part II and III was the result of a fallen leader’s actions described to us from Part I.

  14. I agree that part I of the book, helps us understand the characters as a nation of people that share the same beliefs and interest. It was particulary interesting to me how the author explains to us through the stories the political order of this clan/ clans. They had order even though it entailed some laws that lead to violent actions. The clans maintained power within themselves and other villages and this gave them a sort of balance. In the II and III part of the book this all changed. They no longer had a strong nation( the clans)but even encounter those within them that questioned their ways. It was interesting to see how the Christians came along and their lives took a different turn. Creating great confusion on those that were so sure about what they were doing( like Okonkwo). The merge of the new religion( Christianity) with another culture is one that is seeing throughout history. When two cultures collapse usually the strongest one absords the weak one.

  15. nmulet says:

    I think the first part of the book differs from the other two in that the first part is more like an introduction into the world that Achebe is telling us about. It’s giving us all the background information that he feels we need to know about the Ibo nation. “This is who we are. This is what we believe in. This is what we stand for. This is how we live our lives. This is what’s important, this is what we value the most.” Part I is essentially a statement of facts and a listing of events told more interestingly than a compilation of collected data. But it also allows us to connect to the characters in the story. By learning about them, we gain an appreciation for them and can feel a connection with them as they go through their journeys in life.
    Part II (and II) is when the “story” really starts to happen. Part I is the intro and Parts II and III are the real “meat” of the novel. Without everything given to us in Part I, I don’t think the reader would have a complete understanding about who these people are and the story would be less compelling.