Title Significance of Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe

  • January 29, 2022
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Introduction

Title Things Fall Apart is self-explanatory even then, much significance is given to it because it summarises the whole novel. In his novel, Chinua Achebe talks about a society that was free from doubts of all kinds. He portrays strong beliefs of people on goddesses, stars, moon and sun; the writer sketches traditional values of Igbo society; he talks about their customs and values that they inherited from their forefathers. In short, he illustrates a society that has some norms which they believe will remain with them forever; however, ultimately at the end of the novel each and everything fall apart. 

Title of a book attracts readers and it has importance of its own; some writers choose an ironic title, some modest; Chinua Achebe selects this title to summarise the whole story that he tells us in his book. Thus, we can imagine, just by a glance on the title, what is in there in the book. Things Fall Apart is the name usually given to devastation of something and that is all the story is about, hence, readers can hardly imagine any other meaning of this title. 

Title Things Fall Apart and Significance of Theme

No other title can define this novel better than the one that has already been given to it. It seems that Chinua Achebe choses this title to express one of its prominent themes. It is also obvious from minute observation and comparison of the novel with its other themes that its primary subject is depiction of Igbo culture; the writer introduces us to a society that was once living in Nigeria while having their own traditions, rituals and beliefs. He concludes the novel with the death of Okonkwo, protagonist of the play, who was closely linked to his values and truly adores them; with his death, all the things that once had much significance fall apart which means that the things that were believed to be unending end suddenly, hence it justifies the title of the novel. 

A person is recognized by his deeds but recognition of a society is its cultures and social norms. In every corner of the world, we find different nations and we recognize them either by their names or by their social norms. Every nation has its own customs as well as ethical values, giving them confidence to choose their method of living. Some values may be awkward for some nations but they may be pride for the others; It is relevant to mention here that African people were not considered cultured; Chinua Achebe wrote a novel with the title of Things Fall Apart and showed the world a truth while portraying cultural values of a society, significance of which he portrays through the character of Okonkwo. 

Things Fall Apart is not only a title but a major theme. As mentioned earlier, the novel is about the people of Nigerian society, spending life according to their culture and values. They have their own traditions that they believe are enough for them to spend life satisfactorily. The writer tells his readers a story of values and customs of a society that are precious to them more than their lives. 

The novel clearly paints the life of Nigerian people, who were much depressed after the arrival of white men in their society as it shattered their credibility, hence, Things Fall Apart is not merely a title but concludes its main theme. 

Reasons Behind Falling Things Apart

In addition to the theme of the novel, there are certain reasons due to which things shatter. Climax of the novel is very much relevant in this regard when the culture of Igbo society was ruined by the expansion of European society. Whiteman arrives in Igbo society and brings a new faith i.e. Christianity as well as unique customs; that new religion was entirely against their traditions. It is impossible to keep a strong belief on Igbo culture while believing in the new religion. For them, accepting christianity means declaring tales of forefathers as white lies as there is no concept of female goddesses in christianity. One must give up on one of them; some accept it whereas others reject it, hence, mothers go against daughters, sons against fathers and brothers against brothers; resultantly things fall apart, significance of which the writer gives in the novel, hence, the title is defensible.

Impact of religion on the people is much deeper and they are deeply weakened by the new religion. They are well aware of the fact that it will end their culture. The protagonist of the novel tries his best to save his social norms but in vain. Neither he can stop whitemen to expand their culture nor he could save his people from destruction and ultimately he finds a good way to get rid of it; he commits suicide. It is an example which the poet illustrates that some people do not want to accept new norms. On the other hand, he portrays the example of Okonow’s son who is the representative of those people who accept the change.

Finally, when the people were divided into two groups; one that accepted the change; second that rejected it; the conflict arose between people and the things shattered.

Significance Okonkow’s Life through the Title Things Fall Apart

Indeed, the title of this novel has its own significance as it mainly focuses on the things of Igbo society that fall apart by the expansion of colonialism and Christianity; however, for whom the things fell apart? Of course, for Okonkwo; he is a man of great strength at the start of the novel. He struggles and achieves respect and ranks among others in his society. At the end, when he kills a boy and that too by a mistake, he is exiled. He is forced to leave the society that he loves more than his family. 

Okonkwo’s life starts with prosperity and ends with adversity. Title of the novel not only justifies the significance of cultural values of Igbo society but also the life of the protagonist. One of the most criticised messages that the writer gives in this novel is: it is very shameful for a nation to accept other cultures and forgets the traditional ones. 

It can safely be said that the title Things Fall Apart has significance of its own as it not only gives readers a hint but also a complete summary of the whole tale that the writer tells us.

Conclusion

At last but not least, the novel explains the story of a society whose values were shattered by colonialism, who could not save itself nor could it save its social values. The conclusion of the novel is in its title. Chinua Achebe was very much right while choosing this title as the story is totally relevant to it. Consequently, firstly, the moral values and standard were shattered, secondly the life of Okonkwo (protagonist of the novel) was ruined and the people became helpless in front of colonialism; the standards and norms of that society were vanished and they become deserted, as a result of which, their values were shattered; therefore, the title is very much correct for this novel.

With the growth of European ideas and beliefs, the old traditions of Igbo society begin to falter, things begin to fall apart, traditional beliefs and old practises begin to receive assault. As a result, Chinua Achebe cannot induce himself to choose any other title other than “Things Fall Apart”.

  • Discuss in detail the title significance of “Things Fall Apart”, the novel by Chinua Achebe.
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