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Things Fall Apart
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Why does Things Fall Apart end with the District Commissioner musing about the book that he is writing on Africa?
The novel’s ending is Achebe’s most potent satirical stab at the tradition of Western ethnography. At the end of Okonkwo’s story, Achebe alludes to the lack of depth and sensitivity with which the Europeans will inevitably treat Okonkwo’s life. Achebe shows that a book such as The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger , which the commissioner plans to write, reveals much more about the writers—the colonialists—than about the subjects supposedly being studied. The title of the book is also ironic, as it reflects the utter lack of communication between the Europeans and the Africans. Although the Commissioner thinks he has achieved the “[p]acification” of these tribes, he has only contributed to their unrest and increasing lack of peace.
Additionally, the artifice of wrapping up the narrative as fodder for an ethnographic study hearkens back to the close of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness . As Marlow, the teller of the main story in Heart of Darkness , concludes his tale about colonization in Africa, the initial narrator, waiting with Marlow to sail out to sea, returns and ponders the water, leaving the reader to wonder what atrocities beyond those in Marlow’s story the British Empire will commit. The conclusion of Things Fall Apart gives the impression of a similar story-within-a-story structure. When the account of how the colonizers have imposed themselves upon Umuofia concludes, the commissioner contemplates the account, leaving little doubt that he will now proceed to impose European values on his version of the account.
What is the nature of Okonkwo’s relationship with Ezinma?
Although Okonkwo is generally misogynistic, his favorite child is his daughter Ezinma. Of all Okonkwo’s children, Ezinma best understands how to handle her father’s anger. One example of her sensitivity to his needs is her comforting of him after he has killed Ikemefuna. Ezinma can tell that Okonkwo is depressed but, not wanting to upset him, she doesn’t address his sorrow directly. Instead, she brings him food and urges him to eat. His frequent remarks that he wishes Ezinma were his son because she has the “right spirit” suggest that he desires an affectionate attachment with his sons, so long as it is not openly shown or acknowledged. He values Ezinma not because she exhibits desirable masculine traits but because of their tacit bond of sympathy and understanding.
What does the repetition of the number seven suggest about the novel?
In several places (Mr. Brown’s conversations with Akunna, for example), the novel explicitly focuses on the theological and moral similarities between Christianity and Igbo religion. The repetition of the number seven—symbolically important to both religions—is another way of highlighting the similarities between the two cultures. The text seems to draw a parallel between the apparent randomness of the symbolic number often chosen by the Igbo and the determinism of Christianity’s reliance on the number seven in the Bible and in the myth of creation. Indeed, the text explicitly refers to resting on the seventh day; this return to the number seven marks a similarity between the two cultures’ belief systems.
Things Fall Apart SparkNotes Literature Guide
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Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
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Things Fall Apart Essays
Chinua achebe's portrayal of pre-colonial africa: anonymous, things fall apart.
The concept of balance in Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, is an important theme throughout the book. Achebe introduces this idea with an excerpt from William Butler Yeats's poem, "The Second Coming." The notion of balance is stressed here as...
The Destructive Clash of Cultures Jennifer Chiu
In their respective works Things Fall Apart and The Joys of Motherhood, both Chinua Achebe and Buchi Emecheta depict the effects of colonialism on Igbo society.
While Achebe demonstrates the gradual process of colonial imposition, Buchi Emecheta...
The Role of Women Annie White
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart explores the struggle between old traditions within the Igbo community as well as Christianity and "the second coming" it brings forth. While on the surface, it appears the novel narrows its focus to a single...
The Comparison of One Hundred Years of Solitude with Things Fall Apart Justin J.R.K. Kirkey
By Justin J.R.K. Kirkey
An Involved Essay: The Comparison of
One Hundred Years of Solitude with Things Fall Apart
Things - and societies - fall apart. Societies are born; they grow, thrive, decline, and finally perish. Their procession through...
The Release of African Culture on the World Michael Alexander MacGill
In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe uses Okonkwo's story to elaborate a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the cultural values of African tribes. Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as a rebuttal to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness....
Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart: Complements, or Contrasts? Audrey Fisher
When the Europeans arrived in Nigeria to harvest ivory and spread their religious ideals, many Africans were exploited and their cultures were irreversibly changed. Two novels, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Things Fall Apart by Chinua...
Portraits of Nigeria in Two Novels Timothy Sexton
The novels Things Fall Apart and The Joys of Motherhood both present Nigeria as a competitive, consumption-crazed country. Each novel, therefore, also creates a parallel between Nigeria and capitalist, Western societies--yet each one shows that...
Why Things Fall Apart Anonymous
“The white man is very clever…He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart is a prime example of African literature that demonstrates the clash between cultures and...
The Story of Okonkwo: A Fine Balance of Hope and Tragedy Joshua Nobleman
The South African Igbo tribe of Umuofia, as depicted in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” (1958) encompasses layer upon complex layer of social order. From birth to death, every aspect of Umuofian culture is defined by an intricate balance of...
Family Relationships in White Teeth, Disgrace and Things Fall Apart Anonymous
By comparing White Teeth with at least one other appropriate text, explore the presentation of family and family relationships in postcolonial literature.
The ‘metanarrative’ of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth differs from the direct linear narrative of...
Sexism In Things Fall Apart Stephen Harris
The presence of sexism, both individual and institutional, runs rampant in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It is the most constant theme in the story, more intrinsic in the plotline than even racism, and certainly more deep-rooted. The...
The Culmination of Tragedy: Tradition and Change in Things Fall Apart Anonymous College
Tradition and change are as much at war as the people are in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. The events that define this war are centered on and around the main character, Okonkwo, who finds himself unable to adapt to the changes taking...
Proverb Symbolism for the Clan Anonymous 12th Grade
In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe introduces the ideas of maturity/reputation, respect, and communication as Umuofian cultural values. The success of its citizens when it comes to their social standing is dependent on their abilities...
Fathers and Sons in Purple Hibiscus and Things Fall Apart Anonymous 11th Grade
Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart both emphasize the complexities of father-son relationships. The major theme of parental conflict is developed throughout the course of both texts and serves to illustrate...
The European and African Narrative Techniques used in 'Things Fall Apart' and 'Petals of Blood' Diana Grech College
The structure of the African novel is seen to be made up from two different frameworks, the external, or international, and the indigenous “mode of discourse and artistic expression.” 1 Therefore, the typical African novel contains elements in its...
Murder and Repression in Things Fall Apart Leah Kristine Smith College
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel full of individuals, within a tribe, as they deal with the frequently tragic and disappointing events of their lives. Okonkwo, the protagonist, and his son, Nwoye, are two of these individuals who must...
Misconception of the Generation Gap Anonymous College
Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart , is set in Nigeria; the novel examines the clash between traditional African culture, and western ideals by the Igbo tribe, through the protagonist, Okonkwo. Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s...
Setting in Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" Anonymous 11th Grade
Perhaps one of the most influential elements of literature, a setting may potentially dictate the plotline of a story, establishing culture, tradition, and a backstory. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart sees an African world that largely revolves...
Globalization in Things Fall Apart and Gods Without Men: A Challenge to Spirituality? Anonymous College
After conducting extensive research studying cultures around the world, theorist and social anthropologist Peter Van Der Veer remarked that "the critical elements, like those to be found in the spiritual ideas at the beginning of the 20th century,...
The Process of Colonialism: Narratives from Achebe and Boyden Anonymous 12th Grade
The process of colonialism is the ongoing eradication of old practices and the exploitation of new practices, and often entails settlement into a foreign land, the introduction of new cultural practices, and the enforcement of religious practices....
The Importance of Setting in Ethan Frome and Things Fall Apart Anonymous College
Ethan Frome and Things Fall Apart are found in two dramatically different settings, with each plot relying heavily on the setting of the novel to tell its story. The setting of a story is a broad term and can contain many layers. While each story...
Traits of Influence Samantha Sortijas 12th Grade
The novels Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Moby Dick by Herman Melville feature two uniquely different characters who similarly strive for fulfillment amidst uncertainty and danger, completely devoid of moral qualms about extremities taken...
He Falls Apart: The Art of Female Subversion in African Literature Natalia Conte College
Within any system of oppression, the oppressed, once they realize their treatment is a type of oppression, oftentimes have the impulse to resist. This resistance, sometimes exceptionally dangerous, often bucked by popular opinion and those who...
Human Nature: Inward Questioning v.s. Outward Conformity Eli Curran-Moore 11th Grade
Okonkwo is a character in Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” who attempts to conform outwardly while questioning inwardly, although he definitely might not appear to be at first glance. Okonkwo’s inner conflict caused by the tensions of...
Things Fall Apart
Chinua achebe, everything you need for every book you read..
Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Things Fall Apart: Introduction
Things fall apart: plot summary, things fall apart: detailed summary & analysis, things fall apart: themes, things fall apart: quotes, things fall apart: characters, things fall apart: symbols, things fall apart: theme wheel, brief biography of chinua achebe.
Historical Context of Things Fall Apart
Other books related to things fall apart.
- Full Title: Things Fall Apart
- When Written: 1957
- Where Written: Nigeria
- When Published: 1958
- Literary Period: Post-colonialism
- Genre: Novel / Tragedy
- Setting: Pre-colonial Nigeria, 1890s
- Climax: Okonkwo's murder of a court messenger
- Antagonist: Missionaries and White Government Officials (Reverend Smith and the District Commissioner)
- Point of View: Third person omniscient
Extra Credit for Things Fall Apart
Joseph Conrad: “A Bloody Racist”. Chinua Achebe delivered a lecture and critique on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness , calling Conrad “a bloody racist” and provoking controversy among critics and readers. However, Achebe's criticism of Conrad has become a mainstream perspective on Conrad's work and was even included in the 1988 Norton critical edition of Heart of Darkness .
Achebe as Politician. Achebe expressed his political views often in writing, but he also involved himself actively in Nigerian politics when he became the People's Redemption Party's deputy national vice-president in the early 1980's. However, he soon resigned himself in frustration with the corruption he witnessed during the elections.
ELA / 11th Grade / Unit 2: Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
Students read Chinua Achebe's widely acclaimed Things Fall Apart as they examine themes of identity, culture, and colonialism, analyzing the author's careful choice of words and symbolism.
- Text and Materials
Chinua Achebe, often called the father of modern African literature, has had an impact on readers around the world and on a generation of novelists who have come behind him. His tragic novel, Things Fall Apart , is one of the most widely-read books in the world. The novel’s message about colonialism is echoed and built upon by many of the non-European authors students will read throughout 11th and 12th grade English .
In this unit, students will examine how Achebe develops the complex themes of identity, culture and colonialism, and the individual and community throughout the novel. They will analyze his craft by looking deeply at character development, word choices, and symbols, examining how the author uses these devices to comment on the devastating impact of European colonialism on the culture and peoples of Africa. Along with the novel, students will read several articles and poems that will help to deepen their understanding of the author, the text, and the themes. They will be required to show their deep understanding of both the content and skills of the unit through a mid-unit essay and a unit test.
Texts and Materials
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Book: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Penguin Books, 2017)
Excerpt: Igbo Culture and History by Don C. Ohadike
Book: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Book: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Algonquin Books, 2012)
Poem: “Mango Seedling” by Chinua Achebe
Poem: “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats
Article: “Chinua Achebe, African Literary Titan, Dies at 82” by Jonathan Kandell (New York Times, 2013)
Article: “How to Write about Africa” by Binyavanga Wainaina (Granta, 2006)
Speech: “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness'” by Chinua Achebe
This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
- Read and annotate the novel.
- Take the final exam, including writing the essay.
- Read all of the supporting texts for this unit.
Build Background Knowledge
- A suggested article to build your background knowledge on Chinua Achebe is "After Empire" by Ruth Franklin (The New Yorker)
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
- Identity: In what ways are human beings similar across culture? In what ways does culture impact identity?
- The Individual and Community: What is community? What holds it together? What tears it apart? What is the relationship between the individual and community? Why is maintaining balance in this relationship so important?
- Culture and Colonialism: What is the impact of European colonialism on the characters in the novel? On the people and cultures of Africa?
Writing Focus Areas
Specific skills to focus on when giving feedback on writing assignments
Spiraling Literary Analysis Writing Focus Area
- Developing a unique thesis statement to convey an idea about a text
- Selecting the most relevant pieces of text to support an argument
- Explaining accurately how the evidence supports the argument
Related Teacher Tools:
Grades 9-12 Composition Writing Rubric
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
proverb, epigraph, theme, characterization, character motivation, conflict, mood, setting, tone, juxtaposition, foil, perspective, point of view, irony, satire, tragedy, tragic or fatal flaw
Roots and Affixes
ora- (orator, oracle) and ex- (exile, expedient), im- (impenetrable, impotent)
chapter 1: plaintive (6), prowess (8, 38); chapter 2: amiss (9), discern (9), potent (11), capricious (13); chapter 4: benevolent (26), repentant (31), abomination (31); chapter 5: morality (36), subdue (42); chapter 6: frenzy (47), taut (48); chapter 7: harbinger (56), copiously (56); chapter 8: valor (65), succulent (71); chapter 9: malevolence (79), specious (80); chapter 10: trifle (94); chapter 11: impenetrably (95), benumbed (107); chapter 12: prominent (119); chapter 13: lamentation (12), inadvertent (124), calamity (125); chapter 14: requisite (130); exile (133); chapter 15: fugitive (138), harbinger (139), abomination (141); chapter 16: derisive (146), callow (147); chapter 17: fetish (149), miscreant (152), effeminate (153), annihilation (153); chapter 18: convert (154), heathen (157), ostracize (159); chapter 20: indignity (175), wrath (177); chapter 21: dispensation (178), zeal (178), prestige (182); chapter 21: desecrate (186, 190), imminent (188), pacified (191); chapter 23: palaver (193), ominous (196), sonorous (196); chapter 24: vengeance (199), valor (203); chapter 25: superfluous (206)
Idioms and Cultural References
Text: colonialism (for context), harmattan (1, 5), share-cropping (22)
There are a number of Igbo words and phrases used in the novel. Students should use the glossary at the back of the book for these Igbo words—they are italicized in the text.
Content Knowledge and Connections
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
- European colonization of Africa
- Igbo culture
- Chinua Achebe as a writer and social commentator
Future Fishtank ELA Connections
- 12th Grade ELA - The God of Small Things
- Purple Hibiscus — p. 1
- Heart of Darkness — p. 8
- “Chinua Achebe, African Literary Titan, Dies at 82”
Infer Achebe’s purpose(s) for writing Things Fall Apart.
Gather basic information about the Igbo people and the impact of European colonization on the Igbo.
- “The Second Coming”
- Things Fall Apart pp. 3 – 8
Predict the major themes of the novel.
Analyze the author’s characterization of the protagonist, Okonkwo.
Analyze the continued characterization of Okonkwo in chapter 2.
Describe how the author uses setting, nonlinear plot, and characterization to develop theme.
- Things Fall Apart pp. 16 – 22 — Chapter 3
- “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness'”
Identify examples of techniques Achebe uses to counteract Europeans’ simplistic stereotypes of Africans.
Analyze Achebe’s portrayal of women in chapter 4.
Trace Achebe’s development of Okonkwo’s tragic flaw.
Students will analyze how Achebe further develops Okonkwo’s hyper masculinity as a fatal flaw in chapter 5.
Explain how the author establishes the significance of the wrestling match to the people of Umuofia.
Analyze Okonkwo’s decision to disobey the Oracle and how this decision develops theme.
Analyze Achebe’s use of Obierika as a foil for Okonkwo.
Analyze the importance of children to the lives of women in Umuofia.
Explain the role of the egwugwu in the Umuofian judicial system.
Analyze the role of women in Umuofian society.
Explain how Achebe develops the theme of the individual and community in chapter 11.
Craft an essay that answers the prompt.
Analyze how Achebe develops the importance of strong and harmonious ties to the Igbo community.
Explain the development of Okonkwo’s tragic flaw in chapter 13.
Trace the author’s continued development of the importance of strong harmonious ties within a community.
Analyze the shift in tone toward the missionaries over the course of chapter 16.
Analyze the symbolism of fire as it relates to Achebe’s characterization of Okonkwo’s relationships.
Analyze how Achebe develops both the theme of community and colonization in these chapters.
- Things Fall Apart — Chapter 20
- “Mango Seedling”
Analyze the disagreement between Okonkwo and Obierika, explaining how Achebe uses it to build theme.
Analyze Okonkwo’s reaction to his village and the village’s reaction to Okonkwo.
Students will be able to analyze how Achebe brings the conflict to a climax in these chapters.
Analyze how the author develops Okonkwo’s character in chapter 24.
- Things Fall Apart — Chapter 25
- “How to Write about Africa”
Analyze Achebe’s use of irony and narration to communicate theme at the end of the novel.
Review major themes and events of the text in order to review for tomorrow’s exam.
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Common Core Standards
The content standards covered in this unit
L.11-12.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 11—12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
L.11-12.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
L.11-12.6 — Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
Reading Standards for Informational Text
RI.11-12.2 — Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
RI.11-12.3 — Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
RI.11-12.6 — Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.
Reading Standards for Literature
RL.11-12.1 — Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
RL.11-12.2 — Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
RL.11-12.3 — Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
RL.11-12.5 — Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
RL.11-12.6 — Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
Speaking and Listening Standards
SL.11-12.1 — Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11—12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.11-12.2 — Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
SL.11-12.3 — Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
W.11-12.1 — Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
W.11-12.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
W.11-12.10 — Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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Things Fall Apart
October 4, 2020
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3. Sample Essay Topics
4. A+ Essay Topic Breakdown
Things Fall Apart is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
Things Fall Apart is set in a fictional group of Igbo villages called Umuofia, around the beginning of the twentieth century. The first half of the novel is dedicated to an almost anthropological depiction of Igbo village life and culture through following the life of the protagonist Okonkwo . Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive in the nine villages and beyond. He has dedicated his life to achieving status and proving his strength to avoid becoming like his father Unoka – a lazy, improvident, but gentle man. Weakness is Okonkwo’s greatest fear. After men in another village kill a woman from Umuofia, a boy named Ikemefuna is given to Umuofia as compensation and lives in Okonkwo’s compound until the Gods decide his fate. Ikemefuna quickly becomes part of Okonkwo’s family; he is like a brother to Okonkwo’s son Nwoye and is secretly loved by Okonkwo as well. Over the next three years, the novel follows Okonkwo’s family through harvest seasons, religious festivals, cultural rituals, and domestic disputes. Okonkwo is shown to be more aggressive than other Igbo men and is continually criticized and rebuked by the village for his violence and temper . When the Oracle of the Hills and Caves decides that Ikemefuna must be killed, Okonkwo is warned by a respected elder to have no hand in the boy’s death because Ikemefuna calls him ‘father’. However, afraid of being thought weak, when Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo in hope of protection, Okonkwo delivers the fatal blow. Ikemefuna’s brutal death deeply distresses Nwoye who becomes afraid of his father.
At the end of Part One, Okonkwo accidentally kills a clansman at a funeral after his faulty gun explodes and is exiled to his motherland, Mbanta. During his exile, British missionaries arrive in Mbanta and establish a church. Nwoye, disillusioned with his own culture and Gods after Ikemefuna’s death, is attracted to Christianity and is an early convert . This is a heartbreaking disappointment to Okonkwo. When Okonkwo and his family return from exile after seven years they find that the missionaries and colonial governors have established Umuofia as the center of their new colonial government . Clashes of culture and morality occur, and as the British make the Igbo more dependent on them through introducing trade and formal education, the Igbo way of life is continually undermined . When a Christian convert unmasks an egwugwu during a tribal ritual, a sin amounting to the death of an ancestral spirit, the egwugwu burn down the village church. The men who destroyed the church are arrested and humiliated by the District Commissioner, and Okonkwo beheads a court messenger at a village council in rebellion. When none of his clansmen rise with him against the British, Okonkwo realizes his culture and way of life is lost and commits suicide in despair. Suicide is a crime against the Earth Goddess, Ani , so Okonkwo is left to rot above ground in the Evil Forest, like his father Unoka – a shameful fate he spent his life desperate to avoid. The final paragraph, written from the perspective of the District Commissioner, reduces Okonkwo’s life to a single sentence about his death in his planned book The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of The Lower Niger . Achebe has filled an entire novel with evidence of the complexity and sophistication of Okonkwo’s individual and social life and the District Commissioner’s casual dismissal and belittling of him causes us to flinch with horror and dismay. This is a metaphor for the reduction of Igbo culture in the eyes of its colonizers.
The title gives away the plot of the novel and anticipates the collapse of Okonkwo and his society. Things Fall Apart is about the connection between the tragic downfall of Okonkwo , who fate and temperamental weakness combine to destroy, and the destruction of his culture and society as the Igbo way of life is assailed by forces they do not understand and are unprepared to face .
A Full and Fair Representation of Ibo Traditional Life
The first part of the novel presents the traditional world of the Ibo with specificity and vibrancy . The imbedded descriptions of the patterns of interaction, daily routines and seasonal rituals of Ibo life creates an overwhelming impression of community and shared culture. We see the established system of values which regulates collective life and how closely related this is to natural cycles and environments. The Ibo’s moral values are contained in sayings and stories, rituals and festivals. Achebe depicts a comprehensive and sustaining social, spiritual, economic, agricultural, and legal order. (Chapters to consider: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 19)
While Ibo society is marked by the internal coherence of its organization and the poetry of its rituals, this coherence is partially formed by the repression of the individual and the inflexibility of social norms. Achebe shows the violence, dehumanization, and discrimination vulnerable groups experience in Umuofia due to the rigid adherence to tradition and superstition. This includes the customary abandonment of newborn twins, the sacrificial murder of Ikemefuna in the name of justice, and the discriminatory caste structure that denies inclusion to the osu (Chapters 7, 18).
Obierika’s questioning of the stern logic of some customs suggests that many laws are enacted from a sense of duty and inevitability rather than from a firm conviction in their justice or efficacy (Chapter 13). The cultural demand for conformity places a huge moral and psychological burden on individuals who must reckon with the sometimes heartless will of the gods . This internal tension is epitomized in the character of Okonkwo, discussed below.
Clash of Cultures
When the Ibo are confronted with rival institutions a mirror is held up to their society. Fall Apart honestly considers and reflects on Ibo practices, customs, values, and beliefs. The novel is a frank articulation of the nature of the African past and its relevance to the present and future . Achebe wants to illuminate Ibo culture to dispense with lingering colonial prejudices, but he is not sentimental or nostalgic for the past. Instead he is shifting through it to identify the valuable aspects of Ibo culture to bring into the future and help define Nigeria’s post-independence identity .
Achebe recognises that the colonial encounter which led, swiftly and seemingly inevitably, to the disintegration of Ibo culture revealed its profound weaknesses. Achebe suggests that with the arrival and contrast against another culture, a cultural reckoning was inevitable for the Ibo. However, cultural reckoning and revaluation is not the same thing as destruction and erasure . The British colonialists were a hostile force seeking cultural domination. By pointing out some of the weaknesses of the Ibo tradition, Achebe in no way excuses or justifies colonial domination or diminishes the pain and tragedy of the cultural erasure that occurred.
The anti-colonial position and purpose of the novel is powerfully clear. Achebe depicts the process of colonial initial establishment and the resultant cultural suspension of Ibo society. The British colonizers believed in their inherent cultural superiority and arrived in Umuofia with the intention to “bring civilization” (p.151) to Africa. They wanted to achieve full control by supplanting Ibo religion and culture with their own.
The British arrived quietly and non-confrontationally with their religion and the clans allow them to stay, misinterpreting their silence as peaceability . An Ibo proverb warns that there is danger in silence and nothing to fear from someone who reveals their motivations (Chapter 15). Obierika recognizes how the white man’s strategy disguised their intentions and gave them the freedom to grow and fortify. He explains the political consequences for the clan, now divided by the new religion, they can no longer act as one (Chapter 20). Without strength in unity, the Ibo are vulnerable to further encroachment of British control in their other institutions .
As only a small number of Ibo initially converted to Christianity, the church was only able to establish itself firmly in the villages because of the Ibo’s religious tolerance (Chapter 2, 22). Mr Brown learns about Ibo religion and his willful blindness to its complexity shows how the colonizers justified their colonial rule and imposition through labelling their subjects ‘primitive’ . Mr Brown understands that Christianity held no appeal for people well integrated in Ibo society, concluding that “a frontal attack on it would not succeed” (p.132) and thus introduces education as a new method of cultural displacement and erasure . Additionally, trade also increased the Ibo’s dependence on the introduced economy (Chapter 21).
From the very first introduction of the colonizers we understand that violence and fear were tools of oppression and dominance , forcing the Ibo to submit and keeping them unresisting (Chapter 15, 20, 23). Not only do the British impose foreign rule on the Ibo and judge them by standards they do not recognize, the District Commissioner’s personal brand of ‘justice’ is corrupt and hypocritical. When the elders are arbitrarily and falsely imprisoned, he tells them that what they have done “must not happen in the dominion of our queen” (p.141), combining personal corruption with a state apparatus of paternalism, hegemony, and occupation (Chapter 20, 23).
Dogmatic zealot, Reverend Smith, encourages fanaticism in his converts, motivating them to insult and humiliate the clan (Chapter 22). Under Reverend Smith’s wrathful guidance, the colonial agenda becomes transparently aggressive . The grief and pathos of the Ibo’s situation and collective trauma is displayed evocatively in the final episodes as Achebe depicts this painful moment of acute crisis (Chapter 22, 23, 24, 25).
A recurring thematic question in Things Fall Apart is to what degree the collapse of the Ibo and the downfall of Okonkwo are due to their own internal weaknesses or the whims of a pernicious fate .
The Ibo understand fate to be in a dynamic and somewhat ambiguous relationship with personal agency . This is evident in their proverb “when a man says yes his chi says yes also” (p.20) which acknowledges and privileges the role of an individual’s choices in shaping their destiny (Chapter 4). The saying “as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him” (p.135) also relates this idea – fate is a response to one’s behaviour. Okonkwo is warned that killing Ikemefuna, his surrogate son, is the “kind of action for which the goddess wipes out whole families” (p.49).This demonstrates the clan’s belief that the goddess’s (or fate’s) punishments are not arbitrary but the result of individual action (Chapter 8).
Although there is an element of chance in Okonkwo’s gun accidentally exploding and killing someone, his exile carries the suggestion of just comeuppance in its echo of the guns failure to shoot when purposely aimed at Ekwefi (Chapter 5, 13). Likewise, although the arrival of the Christians was unexpected and chanced, Nwoye’s rejection of his father is traceable directly to Okonkwo’s choice to kill Ikemefuna (Chapter 7). The desertion of people injured by Ibo traditions is a blow to the clan that feels equally earned (Chapters 16, 17, 18).
After his exile, Okonkwo believes his chi has turned against him (Chapter 14). He renunciates the wisdom of his elders by denying the active role he had in directing the course of events. His refusal to reflect on the connection between his actions and punishment reflect his fatal flaws: hubris and willful lack of self-knowledge. By refusing to self-analyze and self-correct, Okonkwo loses the opportunity of redemption. Comparably, the Ibo, despite believing in a relationship between action and fate, do not reflect on the cause of their kinsmen’s desertion to Christianity. Achebe provides numerous examples of the clan’s dogma and brutal traditions denying people such as Ikemefuna or twins control over their lives (Chapter 2, 7). It was the shortcomings of the Ibo social and religious order that made members susceptible to the attraction of a competing value system with a more articulated concept of individuality. The Ibo’s cultural lack of self-apprehension meant they could not adjust their traditions to save themselves .
However, just as Achebe shows how individuals in the clan are at the mercy of rigid overarching authority, he shows how the fateful forces of history constrain human agency . The British’s hostile intention to erase and supplant the Ibo way of life is a punishment greater than the Ibo deserve and a force stronger than they can rise to. In his description of the grief and trauma of colonial imposition, Achebe demonstrates his compassion and sorrow for the Ibo as they faced the sweeping and unforgiving forces of change in their moment of historical crisis .
Sample Essay Topics
1. "Things Fall Apart demonstrates how the values and customs of a society help us to deal with the familiar but not with change." Discuss.
2. "Traditional ideas of honour dominate Okonkwo's life and finally they destroy him." Discuss.
3. "Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories his mother used to tell." How does Achebe explore masculinity in Things Fall Apart ?
Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go. For more sample essay topics, head over to our Things Fall Apart Study Guide to practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!
A+ Essay Topic Breakdown
Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .
Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:
Step 1: A nalyse
Step 2: B rainstorm
Step 3: C reate a Plan
Let's look at an essay prompt in this video below:
In Things Fall Apart , women suffer the most and are victimised by men. Discuss.
Whenever you are breaking a prompt down. Ask yourself...
- What are the key words/ ideas that you need to address?
- Which theme is the prompt referring to?
- Do you agree with prompt? Or do you disagree with it?
The keywords of this prompt would be women, suffer,, victimised and men. The prompt requires us to address the role of women in the text and the ways in which they suffer in a society that is pervaded by patriarchal values. It also asks us, ‘Who is to blame?’ Are men solely responsible for the maltreatment or are there other causes to their suffering? The word ‘most’ in this prompt is actually there to give us a bit of room for discussion. Yes, women do suffer, but do they suffer the most? Or do men suffer as well?
Now that we’ve thought about the prompt, we can move on to the second step of the THINK part of the THINK and EXECUTE technique. To find out more about this unique strategy, I’d recommend downloading a free sample of our How to Write a Killer Text Response eBook!
Now, before we write our ideas in beautiful topic sentences, it’s often easier to simplify everything first. One way to do this is to work out whether the paragraph agrees or disagrees with the prompt at hand. We could follow this structure…
Yes, the prompt is true because X Yes, another reason it is true is X While it is true, it is limited by X
By elucidating the ways in which women are seen as inferior to their male counterparts, the writer establishes his critique on a society that victimises and oppresses women. From the outset of the book, Okonkwo is characterised as a violent man who ‘rules his household with a heavy hand’, placing his wives in perpetual fear. The frequent beating and violence fortifies the portrayal of him as a man who is governed by his hatred of ‘gentility and idleness’, further showing the terror that his wives are forced to be living in.
"Do what you are told woman. When did you become one of the ndichie (meaning elders) of Umuofia?"
He also sees his wife’s mere act of questioning as disrespect, as evidenced through the ways in which he implies that she is overstepping her role.
“There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe like outsiders"
This simile also shows how women are often marginalised and treated as outcasts, underlining the overarching yearning for social justice throughout the text. This pitiful image of women looking ‘on from the fringe’ also helps Achebe relay his criticism of gender double standards and the unfairness that Igbo women are forced to live with. Achebe’s sympathy for women’s suffering and condemnation of men’s mistreatment towards are also evident through his depiction of a society that normalises misogyny.
‘His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops… Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crops’
The personification of the crops, in particular, the men’s crops, the ‘yam’, being the ‘king of crops’ establishes this gender hierarchy in yet another way. More specifically, the position of men in the social hierarchy is highlighted and the negative connotation attached to the ‘women’s crops’ undermine their hard work, rendering it in significant. While women are the main victims of Igbo gendered prejudice, Achebe does not disregard the undue burden that societal expectations impose on men.
‘He was afraid of being thought weak.’
Achebe explores the burdens of unrealistic expectations that are placed on both men and women. This quote exemplifies societal expectations on men to be strong, powerful and fearless leaders who never show emotions. Achebe’s sympathies regarding these expectations show us that this is an important critique in Things Fall Apart that we can analyse.
If you find this helpful, then you might want to check out our Things Fall Apart: A Killer Text Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays (written by a 50 study scorer!) with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.
The Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response
How To Write A Killer Text Response Study Guide
How to embed quotes in your essay like a boss
How to turn your Text Response essays from average to A+
5 Tips for a mic drop worthy essay conclusion
With contributions from Lindsey Dang.
Get our FREE VCE English Text Response mini-guide
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Access a FREE sample of our Things Fall Apart study guide
- Learn how to brainstorm ANY essay topic and plan your essay so you answer the topic accurately
- Apply LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy across 5 sample A+ essays
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Finding out that your school has selected to study a Shakespeare play as your section A text can be a pretty daunting prospect. If I’m honest, I wasn’t all too thrilled upon discovering this either...it seemed as though I now not only had to worry about analysing my text, but also understanding what Shakespeare was saying through all of his old-fashioned words.
However, let’s not fret - in this post, I’ll share with you some Measure for Measure specific advice and tactics, alongside excerpts of an essay of mine as a reference.
Before you start reading, How To Approach Shakespeare: A Guide To Studying Shakespeare is a must read for any student studying Shakespeare.
Having a basic understanding of the historical context of the play is an integral part of developing your understanding of Measure for Measure (and is explored further in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare ). For example, for prompts that open with “What does Shakespeare suggest about…?” or “How does Measure for Measure reflect Shakespeare’s ideas about…?” it can be really helpful to understand Shakespeare’s own position in society and how that influenced his writing.
There’s no need to memorise certain parts of Shakespeare’s history - as that would serve no purpose - just try to gauge an understanding of what life was like in his time. Through understanding Shakespeare’s position in society, we are able to infer his stances on various characters/ideologies in the play.
- Measure for Measure is often regarded as an anti-Puritan satire. Although Shakespeare’s religion has been a subject of much debate and research, with many theories about his faith being brought forward, many believe that he was a secret Catholic. He is believed to be a ‘ secret’ Catholic, as he lived during the rise of the Puritans - those who wished to reform the Church of England and create more of a focus on Protestant teachings, as opposed to Catholic teachings. It was often difficult for Catholics to practice their faith at this time.
- Angelo and Isabella - particularly Angelo, are believed to embody puritanism, as shown through their excessive piety. By revealing Angelo to be “yet a devil,” though “angel on the outward side,” Shakespeare critiques Puritans, perhaps branding them as hypocritical or even unhuman; those “not born of man and woman.” Thus, we can assume that Shakespeare would take a similar stance to most of us - that Angelo wasn’t the greatest guy and that his excessive, unnatural and puritanical nature was more of a flaw than a virtue.
Tips for Moving Past the Generic Examples/Evidence Found in the Play
It’s important to try and stand out with your examples in your body paragraphs. If you’re writing the same, simple ideas as everyone else, it will be hard for VCAA assessors to reward you for that. Your ideas are the most important part of your essay because they show how well you’ve understood and analysed the text - which is what they are asking from you, it’s called an ‘analytical interpretation of a text,’ not ‘how many big words can you write in this essay.’ You can stand out in Measure for Measure by:
1. Taking Note of Stage Directions and Structure of Speech
Many students tend to simply focus on the dialogue in the play, but stage directions can tell you so much about what Shakespeare was really trying to illustrate in his characters.
- For example, in his monologue, I would often reference how Angelo is alone on stage, appearing at his most uninhibited, with his self-interrogation revealing his internal struggle over his newfound lust for Isabella. I would also reference how Shakespeare’s choice of syntax and structure of speech reveal Angelo’s moral turmoil as he repetitively asks himself “what’s this?” indicating his confusion and disgust for his feelings which “unshapes” him.
- Isabella is shown to “[kneel]” by Mariana at the conclusion of the play, in order to ask for Angelo’s forgiveness. This detail is one that is easily missed, but it is an important one, as it is an obvious reference to Christianity, and symbolises Isabella’s return to her “gentle and fair” and “saint” like nature.
2. Drawing Connections Between Characters - Analyse Their Similarities and Differences.
Drawing these connections can be a useful way to incorporate other characters not necessarily mentioned in your prompt. For example, in my own English exam last year, I chose the prompt “ ...Power corrupts both Angelo and the Duke. Do you agree? ” and tried to pair Angelo and Isabella, in order to incorporate another character into my essay (so that my entire essay wasn’t just about two characters).
- A favourite pair of mine to analyse together was Angelo and Isabella. Although at first glance they seem quite different, when you read into the text a little deeper you can find many similarities. For example, while Angelo lives alone in his garden, “succumbed by brick,” requiring “two keys” to enter, “nun,” Isabella, wishes to join the nuns of Saint Clare where she “must not speak with men” or “show [her] face.” Shakespeare’s depiction of the two, stresses their seclusion, piety and restriction from the “vice” plaguing Vienna. What’s important about this point is that you can alter your wording of it to fit various points that you may make. For example, you could use this example to prove to your assessor how Isabella’s alignment with Angelo signals Shakespeare’s condemnation of her excessive puritanical nature (as I did in my body paragraph below) or, you could use these same points to argue how Angelo was once indeed a virtuous man who was similar to the “saint” Isabella, and that it was the power that corrupted him (as you could argue in the 2019 prompt).
- Another great pair is the Duke and Angelo. Although they certainly are different in many ways, an interesting argument that I used frequently, was that they both were selfish characters who abused their power as men and as leaders in a patriarchal society. It is obvious where Angelo did this - through his cruel bribery of Isabella to “lay down the treasures of [her] body,” however the Duke’s behaviour is more subtle. The Duke’s proposal to Isabella at the conclusion of the play, as he asks her to “give [him her] hand,” in marriage, coincides with the revelation that Claudio is indeed alive. It appears that the Duke has orchestrated the timing of his proposal to most forcefully secure Isabella and in this sense, his abuse of power can be likened to Angelo’s “devilish” bribery. This is as, through Shakespeare’s depiction of Isabella, it is evident that she has little interest in marriage; she simply wishes to join a convent where she “must not speak with men,” as she lives a life of “strict restraint.” The Duke is aware of this, yet he demands Isabella to “be [his]”- wishing to take her from her true desire and Shakespeare is able to elucidate Isabella’s distaste through her response to this: silence. By contrasting Isabella’s once powerful voice - her “speechless dialect” that can “move men” - with her silence in response to the Duke’s proposal, Shakespeare is able to convey the depth of the Duke’s selfishness and thus his similarity to Angelo.
We've got a character list for you in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare (just scroll down to the Character section).
What’s important to realise about these bits of evidence is that you can use them in so many different prompts, provided that you tailor your wording to best answer the topic. For example, you could try fitting at least one of the above examples in these prompts:
- ‘Give me your hand and say you will be mine…’ The characters in ‘ Measure for Measure’ are more interested in taking than giving. Discuss.
- ‘More than our brother is our chastity.' Explore how Shakespeare presents Isabella's attitude to chastity throughout Measure for Measure .
- ‘I have seen corruption boil …' To what extent does Shakespeare explore corruption in Measure for Measure , and by what means?
- ‘Measure or Measure presents a society in which women are denied power.’ Discuss.
How To Kick Start Your Essay with a Smashing Introduction
There’s no set way on how to write an introduction. Lots of people write them in many different ways and these can all do well! This is the best part about English - you don’t have to be writing like the person sitting next to you in order to get a good mark. I personally preferred writing short and sweet introductions, just because they were quick to write and easy to understand.
For example, for the prompt...
“...women are frail too.”
To what extent does ‘Measure for Measure’ examine the flaws of Isabella?
...my topic sentences were...
- Isabella is depicted as a moral, virtuous and pious woman, but it is this aspect of her nature that paradoxically aligns her with the “tyrannous” Angelo.
- Shakespeare explores the hypocrisy and corruption of Isabella as a flaw, as she deviates from her initially “gentle and fair” nature.
- Despite exploring Isabella’s flaws to a large degree, Shakespeare does indeed present her redemption at the denouement of the play.
...and my introduction was:
William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Measure for Measure’ depicts a seventeenth century Viennese society in which disease, misconduct and licentiousness are rife. It is upon a backdrop of such ordeals that Shakespeare presents the character of Isabella, who is initially depicted as of stark contrast to the libertine populate of Vienna. To a considerable extent, ‘Measure for Measure’ does indeed examine the flaws of the “gentle and fair” Isabella, but Shakespeare suggests that perhaps she is not “saint” nor “devil,” rather that she is a human with her own flaws and with her own redeeming qualities.
Instead of rewording my topic sentences, I touched on them more vaguely, because I knew that I wouldn’t get any ‘extra’ points for repeating them twice, essentially. However, if you feel more confident in touching on your topic sentences more specifically - go ahead!! There are so many different ways to write an introduction! Do what works for you!
This body paragraph included my pairing between Angelo and Isabella. My advice would be to continue to incorporate the language used in the prompt. In this paragraph, you can see me use the word “flaw” quite a bit, just in order to ensure that I’m actually answering the prompt , not a prompt that I have studied before.
Isabella is depicted as a moral, virtuous and pious woman, but it is this aspect of her nature that paradoxically aligns her with the “tyrannous” Angelo. Where Angelo is “of ample grace and honour,” Isabella is “gentle and fair.” Where Angelo believes in “stricture and firm abstinence,” Isabella too believes that “most desire should meet the full blow of justice.” This similarity is enhanced by their seclusion from the lecherous society in which they reside. Angelo lives alone in his garden, “succumbed by brick,” requiring “two keys” to enter, whilst Isabella desires the life of a nun where she “must not speak with men” or “show [her] face.” This depiction of both Angelo and Isabella stresses their seclusion, piety and restriction from the “vice” that the libertine populate is drunk from. However, Shakespeare’s revelation that Angelo is “yet a devil” though “angel on the outward side,” is perhaps Shakespeare’s commentary on absolute stricture being yet a facade, a flaw even. Shakespeare presents Isabella’s chastity and piety as synonymous with her identity, which ultimately leaves her unable to differentiate between the two, as she states that she would “throw down [her] life,” for Claudio, yet maintains that “more than our brother is our chastity.” Though virtuous in a sense, she is cruel in another. Although at first glance, Shakespeare’s depiction of Isabella’s excessive puritanical nature appears to be her virtue, by aligning her with the “devil” that is Angelo, it appears that this is indeed her flaw.
Conclude Your Essay by Dazzling Your Assessor!
My main tip for a conclusion is to finish it off with a confident commentary of the entire piece and what you think that the author was trying to convey through their words (in relation to the topic). For example, in pretty much all of my essays, I would conclude with a sentence that referenced the entire play - for example, how it appeared to be such a polarising play, with largely exaggerated, polarising characters/settings (eg. Angelo and the Duke, or the brothels that stood tall next to the monastery):
Ultimately, Shakespeare’s play ‘Measure for Measure,’ depicts Isabella as a multifaceted character. She is not simply one thing - not simply good nor bad - her character’s depiction continues to oscillate between the polar ends of the spectrum. Although yes, she does have flaws, so too does she have redeeming qualities. Though at times deceitful and hypocritical, she too is forgiving and gentle. Thus, as Shakespeare’s play, ‘Measure for Measure,’ does centre on polarising characters in a polarising setting, perhaps through his exploration of Isabella’s flaws alongside her virtues, he suggests that both the good and the bad inhabit us.
Measure for Measure is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
Not gonna lie, this novel is a bit of a tricky one to introduce. World War II, arguably one of the darkest events of human history, has been the basis of so much writing across so many genres; authors, academics, novelists have all devoted themselves to understanding the tragedies, and make sense of how we managed to do this to one another. Many reflect on the experiences of children and families whose lives were torn apart by the war.
In some ways, Doerr is another author who has attempted this. His novel alludes to the merciless anonymity of death in war, juxtaposes individualism with collective national mindlessness, and seeks out innocence amidst the brutality of war.
What makes this novel difficult to introduce is the way in which Doerr has done this; through the eyes of two children on opposite sides of the war, he explores how both of them struggle with identity, morality and hope, each in their own way. Their storylines converge in the bombing of Saint-Malo, demonstrating that war can be indiscriminate in its victims—that is, it does not care if its victims are children or adults, innocent or guilty, French or German. However, their interaction also speaks to the humanity that lies in all of us, no matter how deeply buried.
A very quick history lesson
Fast Five Facts about World War II:
- Lasting 1939-1945, the war was fought between the Axis powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) and the Allies (basically everyone else, but mainly England, France, and later the US). Whilst it was Germany who started the war, the intervention of the US at the end of five long years of fighting ultimately helped the Allies win.
- Various forms of technology were first used, or found new uses, during the war. Aircraft carriers and various planes (fighters, bombers etc.) became more important than ever, while Hitler’s use of tanks allowed him to take over much of Europe very quickly.
- Other forms of new technology included one of the world’s first electronic computers that was used to codebreak (stop reading now and watch The Imitation Game if you haven’t already! Totally counts as studying, right?), as well as radio and radar, used to communicate and also to detect enemies in the field.
- World War II is also referred to as the Holocaust, the name given to Hitler’s attempted genocide of the Jewish people. 6 million Jews died in the war, and as many as 15 million others died in total.
- Germany’s initial conquest of Europe was swift and brutal. Within a month, Poland had already surrendered and within a year, so had France. However, there were also resistance groups all over these countries which sought to undermine the Nazi regime in a number of ways, both big and small.
My best attempt to give a general plot overview of this very long book
Disclaimer: this is a very, very broad overview of the novel and it is absolutely not a substitute for actually reading it (please actually read it).
Chronologically, we start in 1934, five years before the war. Marie-Laure is a French girl who lives with her father Daniel Leblanc, working at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. As she starts to go blind, Daniel teaches her Braille, and makes her wooden models of their neighbourhood to help her navigate. Six years later, the Nazis invade France, and they flee the capital to find Daniel’s uncle Etienne, who lives in the seaside town of Saint-Malo; Daniel was also tasked with safeguarding a precious gem, the Sea of Flames, from the Nazis.
In Saint-Malo, Daniel also builds Marie-Laure a model of the town, hiding the gem inside. Meanwhile, she befriends Etienne, who suffers from agoraphobia as a result of the trauma from the First World War. He is charming and very knowledgeable about science, having made a series of scientific radio broadcasts with his brother Henri (who died in WWI). She also befriends his cook, Madame Manec, who participates in the resistance movement right up until she falls ill and dies.
Her father is also arrested (and would ultimately die in prison), and the loss of their loved ones prompts both Etienne and Marie-Laure to begin fighting back. Marie-Laure is also given a key to a grotto by the seaside which is full of molluscs, her favourite kind of animal.
On the other side of the war, Werner is, in 1934, an 8 year-old German boy growing up in an orphanage with his sister Jutta in the small mining town of Zollverein. They discover a radio, which allows them to listen to a broadcast from miles away (it was Henri and Etienne’s), and Werner learns French to try and understand it. One day, he repairs the radio of a Nazi official, who recruits him to the Hitler Youth on account of his ingenuity (and his very blonde hair and very blue eyes, considered to be desirable traits by the regime). Jutta grows increasingly distant from Werner during this time, as she questions the morality of the Nazis.
Werner is trained to be a soldier along with a cohort of other boys, and additionally learns to use radio to locate enemy soldiers. He befriends Frederick, an innocent kid who was only there because his parents were rich—Frederick would eventually fall victim to the brutality of the instructors, and Werner tries to quit out of solidarity. Unfortunately, he is sent into the army to apply his training to actual warfare. He fights with Frank Volkheimer, a slightly ambiguous character who a tough and cruel soldier, but also displays a capacity to be kind and gentle (including a fondness for classical music). The war eventually takes them to Saint-Malo.
Also around 1943 or so, a Nazi sergeant, Reinhold von Rumpel, begins to track down the Sea of Flames. He would have been successful ultimately had it not been for Werner, who stops him in order to save Marie Laure.
As America begins to turn the war around, Werner is arrested and dies after stepping on a German landmine; Marie-Laure and Etienne move back to Paris. Marie-Laure eventually becomes a scientist specialising in the study of molluscs and has an extensive family of her own by 2014. Phew.
What kind of questions does Doerr raise through this plot? To some degree, the single central question of the novel is one of humanity, and this manifests in a few different ways.
Firstly, to what extent are we in control of our own choices? Do we truly have free will to behave morally ? The Nazi regime throws a spanner in the works here, as it makes incredibly inhumane demands on its people. Perhaps they fear punishment and have no choice—Werner, for instance, does go along with everything. At the same time, his own sister manages to demonstrate critical thinking and moral reasoning well beyond her years, and it makes you wonder if there was potential for Werner to be better in this regard. There’s also the question of whether or not he redeemed himself in the end.
That being said, Werner is far from the only character who struggles with this—consider the perfumer, Claude Levitte, who becomes a Nazi informer, or even ordinary French citizens who simply accept the German takeover. Do they actually have free will to resist, or is it even moral for them to do so?
Hannah Arendt famously coined the phrase “the banality of evil,” referring to how broader movements of inhumanity (such as the Holocaust) can be compartmentalised until individual actions feel perfectly banal, commonplace and ordinary. This is what allowed people to do evil things without actually feeling or even being inherently evil—they were just taking orders, after all. Consider the role of free will in this context.
This brings us to the broader ‘theme’ of war in general: in particular, what kinds of acts are suddenly justifiable in war? Etienne and Madame Manec, for instance, even disagree on the morality of resistance, which can frequently involve murder. Etienne’s pacifist stance is a result of the scale of deaths in the previous world war. At the same time, the climactic event of the novel is an allied bombing of Saint-Malo, a French town, just because it had become a German outpost. Risking lives both French and German, this also highlights the ‘necessity’ of some inhumane actions in times of war.
On a more optimistic note, a human quality that Doerr explores is our natural curiosity towards science . This is abundant in the childhoods of both protagonists, as Werner demonstrates dexterity with the radio at a very young age, and Marie-Laure a keen interest in marine biology. In particular, her blindness pushes her into avenues of science which she can experience without literal sight, such as the tactile sensations of mollusc shells. The title may hint at this—for all the light she cannot see, she seeks enlightenment through knowledge, which in turn gives her hope, optimism and purpose.
At the same time, the human desire to better understand the world can also be used inhumanely—Werner used radio to learn through Etienne and Henri’s broadcasts, but he would later in life also use it to help his compatriots murder enemy soldiers. This alludes to the banality of evil again; by focusing on his very technical role and his unique understanding of the science behind radios, he is able to blind himself to the bigger picture of the evils he is abetting. Science is something that is so innately human, yet can also be used inhumanely as well.
For these reasons, I’d suggest humanity is at the heart of the novel. There is a certain cruel randomness to death in war, but just because so many did perish doesn’t mean that there aren’t human stories worth searching for in the destruction. This is the lens that Doerr brings to the WWII narrative.
To some degree, a lot of these symbols relate to humanity, which I’ve argued is the crux of the novel. I’ll keep this brief so as to not be too repetitive.
One major symbol is the radio , with its potential for good as well as for evil. On one hand, it is undoubtedly used for evil purposes, but it also acts as a source of hope, purpose, conviction and connection in the worst of times. It is what ultimately drives Werner to save Marie-Laure.
Along the same vein, whelks are also a major symbol, particularly for Marie-Laure. While an object of her fascination, they also represent strength for her, as they remain fixed onto rocks and withstand the beaks of birds who try to attack them. In fact, she takes “the Whelk” as a code-name for herself while aiding the resistance movement. It’s also noteworthy that, given the atrocities of war, maybe animals are the only innocent beings left. As Saint-Malo is destroyed and the Sea of Flames discarded, it is the seaside ecosystem that manages to live on, undisturbed. In this sense, the diamond can be seen as a manifestation of human greed, harmless once removed from human society.
Finally, it’s also worth considering the wooden models that Daniel builds for Marie-Laure. They represent his immense love for her, and more broadly the importance of family, but the models also attempt to shrink entire cities into a predictable, easily navigable system. As we’ve seen, this is what causes people to lose sight of the forest for the trees—to hone in on details and lose track of the bigger picture around them. The models are an oversimplification of life, and an illusion of certainty, in a time when life was complicated and not at all certain for anyone.
Identity, morality and hope—these things pretty much shape what it means to be human. Throughout All the Light We Cannot See though, characters sometimes struggle with all three of them at the same time.
And yet they always manage to find something within themselves, some source of strength, some sense of right and wrong, some humanity in trying times. Doerr explores this capacity amply in this novel, and in this sense his novel is not just another story about WWII—it’s a story about the things that connect us, always.
Essay prompt breakdown
Through the prompt that we’ll be looking at today, the main message I wanted to highlight was to always try and look for layers of meaning. This could mean really being across all of the symbols, motifs and poetic elements of a text, and it’s especially important for a novel as literary as this one.
You might not have been particularly happy to find out you’re going to have to study All The Light We Cannot See— it is probably the longest text on the entire text list—but it’s also a really beautiful, well-written book that deservedly took out the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2015.
In this novel, Anthony Doerr tells the World War 2 story through a unique lens, or rather a unique combination of lenses, as he sets a 16-year-old French girl and a 17-year-old German boy on an unlikely path of convergence. Through the dangers and difficulties that they face, Doerr’s novel is one of growth and self-assuredness in a time when this seemed virtually impossible.
The essay topic we’ll be looking at today is:
All The Light We Cannot See is a literal title for the novel, in that it exposes the darkness, evil and cruelty of which humans are demonstrably capable. Is this an accurate interpretation?
As usual, let’s define some keywords.
I want to leave ‘darkness’ for a little later, but let’s start with ‘evil and cruelty.’ By themselves, they generally just mean immorality or inhumanity, but also keep in mind how they come across in characters’ actions, since those will be the focus of our analysis. The word ‘demonstrably’ highlights this, since it means that any ‘evil’ you discuss needs to be demonstrated or proven.
With ‘darkness’, that’s a bit more of a tricky term because it can mean any number of things. Here, it might be taken to mean bad intentions, corruption or anything like that, because it fits with ‘evil and cruelty’. However, this is where the ‘interpretation’ aspect of the prompt comes in—an interpretation being a way of explaining meaning, how do you explain the meaning of ‘darkness’ in relation to the title? Darkness in this sense could be any number of things.
Now, how should we plan for this topic? Let’s first consider if there’s any room to challenge, since the prompt seems to only focus on the more negative, pessimistic side of the book. I’d argue that with darkness, there is also some light in the form of kindness, charity and hope.
This all sounds pretty profound, but I’m just trying to link it back to the book’s title! I mean, that’s what the topic is asking about, right?
Let’s break this down into paragraphs.
For our first paragraph, a good starting point might be analysing the literal forms of darkness in the novel, and seeing what other interpretations we can get from those. A character that comes to mind is Marie-Laure, the French girl who cannot see any ‘light’ due to her blindness. The title could be seen as an allusion to her character and by extension, the hopelessness that blindness might cause in the midst of a war. We could compare Marie-Laure’s situation with that of Werner, who faces the industrialization of his childhood town, watching it become more and more enveloped in ‘darkness’ and as such, hopelessness.
For our next paragraph, we might drill down to deeper levels of interpreting darkness, because it’s often used as a metaphor for inhumanity. It isn’t difficult to find inhumanity in the novel. There’s plenty of it peppered throughout Werner’s storyline, particularly at Schulpforta, where the Hitler Youth were ‘trained’, (to put it lightly). He and his peers are routinely drilled to “drive the weakness from the corps” in humiliating exercises led by cruel instructors. They are also sometimes driven to cruelty towards one another, and Frederick, Werner’s bunkmate, is relentlessly bullied for his perceived weakness.
So by now, it’s clear that the novel demonstrates the human capacity for experiencing ‘darkness’ as well as inflicting it upon others. But, across these two layers of meaning, could there perhaps be some room to challenge these interpretations? This is something we should look at for our final paragraph.
Here, I would probably argue that just as Doerr explores various forms of darkness, there is also enough ‘light’ which allows some characters to overcome or escape from the darkness. These manifestations of light also require you to think about the different symbolic layers of the novel. On one level for example, looking at light literally, there’s the message on Werner’s radio that teaches us that, even though the brain is sealed in darkness, “the world it constructs…is full of light.” A deeper level of meaning to this may refer to the sense of scientific wonder and discovery which sometimes brings light to Werner, and also Frederick, his bunkmate at Schulpforta, when their lives there are at their most dark.
Consider how, just as darkness has levels of interpretation and symbolism in this book, so does light and hope and joy, rather than just evil and cruelty.
And that’s it! Always delving deeper for meaning helps you to really make use of the symbols, imagery and motifs in a text, and I hope this novel in particular illustrates that idea.
Metalanguage is language that describes language. The simplest way to explain this is to focus on part 3 of the English exam – Language Analysis. In Language Analysis, we look at the author’s writing and label particular phrases with persuasive techniques such as: symbolism, imagery or personification. Through our description of the way an author writes (via the words ‘symbolism’, ‘imagery’ or ‘personification’), we have effectively used language that describes language. For a detailed discussion, see What is metalanguage?
- False protagonist
- Secondary character
- Supporting character
- Major character
- Minor character
- Short stories
- ProseIambic pentameter
- Blank verse
- First person view
- Second person view
- Third person view
- Third person objective
- Third person
- Third person omnipresent
- Third person limited
- Alternating narrative view
- Linear narrative
- Nonlinear narrative
- Turning point
Other literary techniques
- Active voice
- Complex sentence
- Compound sentence
- English (American)
- English (Australian)
- Flash forward
- Passive voice
- Simple sentence
Most assessments require you to write essays using formal language. In English writing, there are two main styles of writing – formal and informal. The primary purpose of formal language is to achieve sophistication and clarity. Although the difference between the two styles is relatively straightforward, we’ll point out some common examples to just to make sure that you don’t slip and make an unnecessary mistake. Consider these two examples:
Example 1 : We cordially invite you to the Year 12 formal.
Example 2 : Hey buddy! Wanna go to the dance?
It is clear that example 1 is formal while example 2 is informal. The vocabulary, tone, and syntax are all things that change depending on the style you wish to adopt. Informal language isn’t always a ‘taboo’ though. Creative pieces and persuasive pieces can be written informally, for example, if it is a personal diary or an advertisement respectively. If you’re unsure, the easiest way to separate the two is to question whether or not you would say the phrase in real-life conversations. If it’s a yes, then it’s most likely informal language. Below are some more specific examples of the differences between formal and informal writing:
Formal: Avoids using colloquial words/phrases
Informal: May use colloquial words/phrases
Formal: Avoids contractions (write out full words – was not, did not, had not etc.)
Informal: May use contractions (wasn’t, didn’t, hadn’t etc.)
Formal: Usually written in third person (Sharon, Ben, they, them etc.)
Informal: May use first (I, me etc.), second (he, she etc.) or third person (as above).
Formal: Specific words (such as, large, items, etc.)
Informal: Imprecise words (like, big, things, etc.)
Formal: Avoids cliches (many, etc.)
Informal: May use cliches (loads of, etc.)
Formal: Avoids addressing readers using second person pronouns (the readers, an individual, one’s etc.)
Informal: May address readers using second person pronouns (you, your, etc.)
Formal: Avoids using abbreviated words (write in full – photograph, television, etc.)
Informal: May use abbreviated words (photo, TV, etc.)
Formal: Avoids imperative voice (please refer to…etc.)
Informal: May use imperative voice (remember to…etc.)
Formal: May use passive voice (it has been noted that…etc.)
Informal: May use active voice (we note that…etc.)
Formal: May use longer and more complex sentences.
Informal: May use short and simple sentences.
When writing essays ensure that you stick to one or the other. Mixing the two ways of writing will negatively impact the readability of your essay, and also the assessor’s reflection of the writer.
I am Malala and Made in Dagenham is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing). For a detailed guide on Comparative , check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative .
- Compare the importance and role of idols and role models in I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Describe the role of fear and obligation as an obstacle to progress by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- ‘As we change the things around us, the things around us change us’. Discuss the extent to which this is true by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Discuss the benefit of adversity in strengthening one’s will to persevere by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Resilience is more important than success. Discuss whether this is true within the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Compare the role and importance of family within the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Compare both I am Malala and Made in Dagenham in relation to the importance of language as a device (spoken and written).
- Compare the forms of resistance displayed by protagonists Malala Yousafzai and Rita O’Grady in texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham and decide why they chose these methods.
- Analyse the effectiveness of small triumphs creating ripple effects in wider communities by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Discuss whether support networks are intrinsic for a single figure to create positive change by comparing I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- The main protagonists are galvanized by the people they wish not to be like rather than their role models. Discuss to what extent this is true by comparing the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Made in Dagenham and I am Malala explore the vices of deceit, appeasement and scapegoating. Discuss these by comparing both texts, commenting on how they pose a threat to the causes of both protagonists.
- What role do interpersonal relationships play in the texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham? Can these relationships be both positive and negative? Discuss.
- Change cannot be immediate but gradual. To what extent is this true in texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham .
- Examine the role of the media in driving social change by comparing texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham
- A patriarchal society is invariably one that is repressive. Discuss this statement and its truths or falsities by comparing texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
- Discuss solidarity in relation to social, historical and cultural progress and whether it can be both positive and negative by comparing texts I am Malala and Made in Dagenham.
Whether Language Analysis (or Analysing Argument) is your favourite section of the English course or you just wish you could read an article without analysing the effect of a generalisation, here are some quick and simply tips to ensure you can maximise your marks in Section C! For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .
Improve your metalanguage
What is Metalanguage?
Words that describe language!
- The words infer
- The words insinuate
- The words suggest
Create a word bank full of different words you can interchange throughout your analysis to eliminate any repetition!
If you’d like to see a list of sentence starters to help you broaden your vocabulary for Analysing Argument, check out this blog .
Do not reiterate what the writer is saying
Remember you are analysing the language the writer uses, not arguing the contention of the writer!
Therefore avoid words such as: states, highlights, uses, utilises, shows etc.
What not to do: The writer states that creating a community garden will make people “healthier and happier”
What to do: The words “healthier and happier” suggest that creating a community garden will improve the lifestyles of citizens.
Analyse the language not the technique
By now we are probably aware that puns are “often humorous” and “gain the reader’s attention”. However instead of using these generalised textbook effects, analyse the words WITHIN the pun and see how these words may affect readers.
What not to do: The pun “A new cycle” in the headline is humorous and therefore captures the attention of the reader.
What to do: The pun “A new cycle” draws a direct link between cycling and advancement in society urging readers to view cycling in a positive light.
Always ask yourself: why?
Why is the writer using particular language? Why may the reader react with concern?
Make sure the answers to these questions are in your analysis!
What not to do: Consequently readers may feel concerned.
What to do: Readers may feel concerned due to the increase in fast food consumption.
If you'd like to see exactly how to achieve this within your essays, check out our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis ebook for a step-by-step explanation of how to clearly and effectively answer 'why' and nail Analysing Argument!
Don’t forget the visual
As silly as it may sound, it is quite easy to forget to analyse the visual when you’re under pressure. The visual can either complement the article or oppose the views of the writer.
Mention what the visual:
- And how readers may react to the visual
Keep your introduction and conclusions as brief as possible
Most of your marks will come from your analysis so there is no need to spend copious amounts of time perfecting your introductions and conclusions. Keep them short and concise!
Pick and choose what to analyse
It is simply impossible to analyse every single technique the writer uses in their article. Therefore pick the words/phrases that you find most persuasive. You will not be marked down for what you do not analyse!
1. What do Year 10s Learn in English?
2. year 10 english curriculum breakdown, 3. year 10 english texts, 4. how to get good marks in year 10 english.
Year 10 English is when the Pre-VCE year kicks in. Most schools will treat it as an opportunity to expose you to the VCE curriculum, but with Year 10 level texts. This means they’ll cover the same assessment tasks and begin teaching you the skills you need to have by the time you get to VCE.
Other schools will use this year to prepare students for the different English subjects that are offered at the VCE level, so they can decide by the end of the year. These may include VCE English/EAL, VCE Literature and VCE English Language.
For this blog, we’ll focus on the current Victorian Year 10 Curriculum (this will be updated as they change).
Similar to the VCE years (Year 11-12), most Year 10’s will be expected to complete the following assessment tasks:
- Comparative text response
- Creative (with a written explanation)
Under each area of study, there will be key skills that you will need to learn to nail the accompanying assessment tasks.
Considering what you would have learnt in Year 9, Year 10 builds on those skills a bit further. Fundamentally, you would need to provide more detail whenever you’re expected to analyse evidence or provide an explanation and there will be specific essay structures your teacher will want you to follow. This may vary depending on your school.
Check out ' What should Year 9 students expect when they enter Year 10 ' for a more in depth breakdown of the Year 9 to 10 transition!
Let’s break down each assessment task you’re expected to complete as mentioned above.
Watch our video What kind of assessments can you expect at a Year 10 level!
Many Year 10 students will be introduced to the world of annotations when going through the text response unit. This is because the text will need to be understood inside out for you to score highly on the essay.
When you begin annotating your text, look for the following:
- Key ideas explored by the author
- Characterisation and character transformation
- Social/Historical/Cultural/Political context
- Stylistic features used by the author, such as symbolism, motifs, etc.
- Words you don’t understand (and then define them)
To help you have a better understanding of your text, teachers will usually assign you comprehension questions about your text and that will be their way of easing you into writing analytical body paragraphs.
Examples of prompts you may receive for text response include:
- ‘Night paints a vivid picture of a broken society in a broken place.’ Discuss.
- ‘Holden’s critique of phonies in The Catcher in the Rye is his way of critiquing society.’ Do you agree?
As important as the keywords are in the prompt, you need to be able to identify the type of prompt you have chosen to answer. Similarly, you must take some time to familiarise yourself with the task words that commonly pop up in prompts.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Text Response to get a more specific idea of HOW you can smash out this essay.
Comparative Text Response
This is oftentimes deemed to be the most difficult area of study students will complete in English. Instead of just interpreting and analysing one text, you’re now presented with two texts you will need to find common ideas and themes to discuss.
To get in the high-scoring range you will need to do the following to help you stand out from the rest of your classmates:
- Constantly form links between the texts and the prompt you’re answering
- Consistent and detailed comparison throughout the essay between the two texts
- Be able to demonstrate a depth understanding of the texts
- Refer back to the writer’s views and values (their intention/message to the reader)
- Explore the different ideas expressed by the author
- Examine HOW the author has created certain effects on the reader , taking into consideration their use of narrative and stylistic choices
- Use relevant metalanguage
We also have The Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative to help you break down HOW you can best prepare for this assessment task.
If you would like to know the pros and cons of the different comparative essay structures you can follow, check out this blog .
This particular assessment will generally be based on the text you have studied with your class. It may be a collection of short stories, a novel, poems, etc. The majority of the time, teachers will expect you to pick one of the characters from the text and write an alternate plot for them while also mirroring the style of the original text .
Sometimes, teachers will allow you to pick the story and character you get to focus on, other times, they’ll provide you with a list you can choose from. If you’re given free rein for this task, check out our creative ideas you can adopt.
A written explanation usually accompanies this assessment task as well. This is where you break down your creative task for your teacher, sharing with them your purpose for writing it the way you have. You will address your language choices, themes, literary devices used, intended audience, etc. This tends to be around 200 words in length. Here’s a blog that explains HOW you can write the best written explanation.
Some more creative writing resources to help you out with this assessment:
- How To Achieve A+ In Creative Writing
- How YOU Can Be A Better Creative Writer! For ANY Student
- 11 Mistakes High School Students Make In Creative Writing
Mimicking the analysing argument essay you will need to complete in both Year 11 and Year 12, you will be expected to:
- Demonstrate your understanding and knowledge of both written and visual features of persuasion in your analysis (this is where the intended effect of the writer comes into play)
- Be able to identify and explain your assumptions with sophistication
- Show insightful knowledge of both explicit and implicit meaning within the texts
- Prove that you know HOW language choices can influence the audience
- Use relevant metalanguage (this may include persuasive devices, language or visual techniques)
Some schools like to pick a specific issue to focus on, for instance, social media. All of the articles and tasks they assign their students to analyse will then be focused on this issue. Other schools will expose their students to a variety of different issues. Either way, you will be exposed to a variety of persuasive material and forms, including opinion pieces, speech transcripts, editorials, cartoons , etc. This is elaborated on in The Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .
Different schools will teach different analysis techniques. One of the most common ones includes the WHAT-HOW-WHY method . This will be applicable when you move into Year 11 and 12 English too.
Introductions for this particular essay are just as straightforward and can be quite formulaic. Check out our YouTube video on how to write an A+ language analysis introduction to learn the elements you need in an argument analysis introduction. If you’re curious about the writing process for the entire essay, then check out this video .
A lot of the time in Year 10, you will also be unpacking media advertisements. This will tie into the argument analysis area of study.
Here, you may be analysing HOW and WHY advertisements are created the way they are and the choices made by the creator to influence the specific target audience. Sometimes, you will also have the opportunity to create your own! If this is the case, you will also most likely write up a written explanation of around 200-300 words explaining the choices you have made.
As you would have read in The Ultimate Guide to Year 9 English, reading is one of the most important skills that need to be maintained as you progress through high school.
Here is a list of 10 texts many students at a Year 10 level may have read:
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
How many of these texts can you tick off the list?
a) Knowing Where to Start
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge your strengths in English; however, to improve upon your marks and do even better, you will also need to fine-tune your weaknesses . Merely relying on strengths won’t be enough anymore.
Identify the skills you need to improve and be specific!
For example, ‘I need to make my introductions shorter and simpler’ or ‘I will plan my essay more extensively so I will know which pieces of evidence will be relevant for each body paragraph.’
If this is the case, writing a million essays won’t get you to where you want to be. It would be inefficient and a waste of everyone’s time. Hone down your focus to one or two things , instead of every skill that falls under essay writing.
Referring back to the above example, if you want to make your introductions shorter and simpler, read through a few sample high-scoring introductions and test them you can adopt for an introduction and know which one will work best for you. Or if your pain point is the planning process, compile different essay planning templates and use them in your essay planning so you can narrow down your options for different types of prompts.
This way, starting small will help you improve without overwhelming you so much. Check out How I Went From Average To A+ In High School English to get that boost of motivation and confidence before you embark on this learning journey.
As you do this, don’t forget to keep in mind the 7 Deadly (English Writing) Sins you should always avoid!
b) Work With Your Teacher
As we’ve explained in our Instagram post on the feedback loop , getting feedback for your essay or paragraph from your teacher and tutors will also help you improve much faster !
If you’re not familiar with the essay writing feedback loop process, it goes:
- Step 1: Write a paragraph(s) or essay
- Step 2: Get input on what works and fix what doesn’t (this input can come from your teacher and/or tutor)
- Step 3: Redraft or write a new one to test your skills
- Step 4: Repeat
Whether it’s just a plan, an introduction, a body paragraph or even a complete essay, taking the initiative to seek help from your teacher will provide you with clarity on what it is you need to be working on. This is crucial if you want to jump from a C grade to an A+.
Each time you write a practise essay or paragraph, you should have a goal in mind so you know what you’re trying to improve upon. This way, you can cut down your workload and reduce study time !
I would recommend you do this as many times as necessary until you get that 10/10 essay so you can use it as a template or model essay in the future!
c) Write Under Timed Conditions
Even though a lot of the time in Year 10, teachers will be a bit more lenient so they’ll permit you to bring in a cheat sheet into the exam or assessment. However, that doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to finish on time, so it’ll serve you best to do some additional practise essays under timed conditions.
Some things to look out for when you do practise writing timed essays or paragraphs:
- Ensuring that your handwriting is legible
- Trial and error different types of planning methods to find which suits you best
- Know the essay structure you want to adopt for the particular essay
- Avoid ‘fluff’ (unnecessary details) and get straight to the core idea and analysis since that is where you’ll get the marks
- Practise makes perfect!
Here’s a YouTube video that details how you can go about writing 3 essays in 3 hours which you’ll eventually need to do!
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In your English class, you probably feel like your teacher is making stuff up. Moments where you think, “The author can’t possibly have meant that”. To your English teacher, the smallest details have major implications in interpreting the text.
In fact, you probably agree with jokes like this:
The Book: “The curtains were blue.”
What your teacher says: “The curtains represent the character’s depression.”
What the author meant: “The curtains were blue.”
Or even this one...
The disconnect you feel between yourself and the teacher is not just because your teacher is stretching for something to analyse. Whilst the author may have meant something different to what your teacher thinks, this doesn’t mean your teacher is strictly wrong. Context and the author’s intention are two complicated considerations in English, and a whole range of study is dedicated to it. At the VCE level you must consider the context your text was written in, and the author who wrote it, but this shouldn’t hinder your own unique interpretation of the text.
Before you begin reading, I'd highly recommend that you check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .
Your interpretation is more important than the author's intention
In 1968, Roland Barthes proposed a theory that has stuck with critics and academics of literature. “The Death of the Author” claimed that the biography, views, or intentions of the author are not a part of the literary object.
The text you are studying in English does not belong to its author, but to the reader, and what the reader decides to make of that text is valid, as long as it is backed up with evidence (as your teacher will say). Barthes’ original essay is complicated, but at a basic level, “The Death of the Author” says that the curtains are not only representative of the character’s depression but could also represent the character’s love of blue orchids.
When we read, we automatically apply our own experiences, biases, and understanding of the world to the text. As such, each person is likely to interpret a text in different ways. This is a major part of studying English, as the critic (you) is more important than the author’s original intention. The fact that a single text can give rise to multiple interpretations is the reason we study English; to debate these interpretations. When you are given an essay topic you are being asked for your opinion on one of these debates, not the author’s opinion on their own work. If you were reading The Fault in Our Stars and claimed it romanticised cancer, you would be participating in the literary debate, despite going against John Green’s original intentions.
In the modern age of mass media, the author is attempting to revive themselves. These are authors who attempt to dictate interpretations of their works after they have been published. The most famous of these is likely J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling’s twitter page adds many pieces to the Harry Potter canon and Rowling offers her own interpretations of the text. To Rowling, her intentions are the only correct ways to interpret her texts, and as such she shares them frequently.
This is not true, however, for any author. Authors are not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to the interpretation of their texts. Despite having intentions and opinions on their texts, there is also evidence which counters their interpretations.
When it comes to the debate surrounding the texts you study, you need to remember that the interpretation of the author is only one part of the debate. It is an opinion equal to everyone else involved in the debate. Imagine the author is on trial. They may have an opinion of the crime (or text), but so does the prosecution. You are the jury and must come up with your own interpretation of the crime. Whether it matches up with the author’s intentions or not does not matter, as long as there is supporting evidence within the text.
Context in VCE English
But what about the circumstances in which something was written? Every time you start a new text you are probably asked to research the time in which it was written, or what major political events may be relevant. Unlike the author, these factors are very important in interpreting a text.
For starters, a text may explicitly reference a certain event, and so understanding that event is key to understanding the text. An episode of the Simpsons may make fun of Donald Trump, and the writers assume we have the contextual knowledge to know who Donald Trump is, why he is important, and why the joke is funny. It is easy for us to understand this context because we live in the context.
If you’re studying texts from 200 years ago it becomes harder to interpret because we’re unfamiliar with the context. While you don’t have to know the context of your text perfectly, understanding the cultural beliefs and major events will help you consider the text objectively.
Researching the context of a text acknowledges that literature is a product of the culture and politics of its time. Its themes may still be relevant in the modern age, but it is difficult to fairly judge, critic, and interpret these texts if we do not consider the context in which it was written. A piece of literature will either follow or criticise the views and opinions of the time, and it is the responsibility of the reader to understand these views and determine where the text sits.
Okay, so the text is a reflection of the time from which it stems, and is separate from the author that wrote it? Not quite. Counter to “The Death of the Author”, the author is also a part of context, and this means certain parts of the author should be considered in interpreting a text.
If there is ambiguity in the meaning of a text, the author’s personal beliefs may clear it up. If a character of a certain race is stereotyped and mocked, the meaning of this may change depending on the race of the author. If an author stereotypes their own race, they might be criticising the way other people see them, whereas making fun of a different culture is most likely upholding racist or discriminatory belief systems.
If you're studying VCE Literature, read The Importance of Context in Literature for some further info!
Deriving Meaning From Texts in VCE English
So, what ARE the curtains?! What do they mean? Well, they're a metaphor, representing more than their literal role as curtains. But also, they’re just blue.
The truth is whilst context and the author are relevant, we should try to gain as much from the text as possible before relying on the context to guide our interpretations. While studying your texts, it is reasonable to apply modern standards to your interpretations.
Shakespeare’s plays are a tad sexist, and we’re able to criticise that, despite Shakespeare writing in a different context. For more on studying Shakespeare in VCE, read How to Approach Studying Shakespeare . But it would also be difficult to appreciate the meaning of texts without the context, especially when the text is a response to a major event. At the same time, we’re allowed to expand on what the author has written. We are not confined to what the author meant to say when we interpret texts. As an English student you have the opportunity to consider what each word may represent for the characters and how it influences your unique interpretation.
So, the curtains mean whatever you want them to mean. You can make reasonable assumptions about a text based on the context it comes from and from the author’s life, but you shouldn’t assume that something means nothing. Trivial things like the colour of curtains may not have been important to the author but allow us as English students to analyse and look deeper into the text, its themes, and the psyche of the characters.
In your SACs and exams looking at these small details and deviating from the author’s intentions is an easy way to stand out. Looking to get to that A+ level? Read How to Turn Text Response Essays from Average to A+ . So, when your teacher says the curtains are a metaphor, consider what else could be a metaphor, and don’t assume the author has all the answers, or that there is only one interpretation.
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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Things Fall Apart — Why Things Fall Apart
The Allegory of The Title Things Fall Apart
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Tradition and change are as much at war as the people are in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. The events that define this war are centered on and around the main character, Okonkwo, who finds himself unable to adapt to [...]
The impact of colonialism in Things Fall Apart is a recurring theme that shapes the trajectory of the novel's characters and the Igbo society they inhabit. Chinua Achebe's masterpiece serves as a poignant exploration of the [...]
“A man doesn't become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall” as Aristotle once said. In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is used to portray Achebe’s own characterization of a tragic hero. A [...]
From the very title of this historical fiction novel, Things Fall Apart, composed by Chinua Achebe, it foreshadows the tragedy which is triggered by the tragic hero. Defined by Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, a tragic [...]
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel full of individuals, within a tribe, as they deal with the frequently tragic and disappointing events of their lives. Okonkwo, the protagonist, and his son, Nwoye, are two of [...]
After conducting extensive research studying cultures around the world, theorist and social anthropologist Peter Van Der Veer remarked that "the critical elements, like those to be found in the spiritual ideas at the beginning [...]
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Writing help, paraphrasing tool, things fall apart analysis.
This essay will delve into Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart,” focusing on its portrayal of pre-colonial African culture and the impact of European colonialism. The piece will explore the complex character of Okonkwo and the novel’s themes of cultural clash, change, and tradition. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Analysis.
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Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Chinua Achebe that shows the conflicts in Nigeria during the nineteenth century. During this time, missionaries from Great Britain arrived in Nigeria. In this novel, the main character, Okonkwo, resists changes brought about by the British missionaries. Okonkwo’s close friend, Obierika, shares the same dislike towards the change, but isn’t as willing to fight them. Instead, Obierika, along with the tribe, is forced to accept the changes to their culture. Their attitude to change is an example of their many differences. It shows that although Okonkwo and Obierika are close friends, they contrast in personalities, family relations, and attitudes towards change.
In the novel, Okonkwo and Obierika are seen with their families. Okonkwo tended to show minimum emotion towards his family. He “ruled his household with a heavy hand” and punished them as he saw fit (22). However, Okonkwo still cared for his family and especially favored Ezinma. He went to such lengths as to follow the Oracle to the shrine to make sure Ezinma was safe. On the other hand, Obierika showed more affection towards his family than Okonkwo did. He showed pride in his son, who was a prodigious wrestler, and made sure his daughter was married to a good husband. They both cared for their family, but they have different ways to express their emotions.
As the story progresses, the British missionaries arrive in Nigeria. Immediately upon their arrival, Okonkwo and Obierika share different viewpoints. They both disliked the change occurring to the Ibo culture; however, Obierika viewed the missionaries’ culture with an open mind while Okonkwo perceived the missionaries as “insane.” Okonkwo wanted to fight off the missionaries, but Obierika said it was too late, “Our own people…have joined the hands of the stranger…They have put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (164). Towards the end, Okonkwo kills a white messenger and realized that Obierika was right: his people weren’t going to fight. In the end, Okonkwo’s inability to change causes him to commit suicide.
Both Okonkwo and Obierika share many differences and similarities in various aspects. They differ in personality: Okonkwo is impulsive while Obierika tends to be more reasonable. They both criticize each other and yet, are respectful, despite their different viewpoints. They also contrast in the emotion shown towards their families. Okonkwo is harsher and less affectionate than Obierika; however, they both care about their family members, even if Okonkwo rarely shows it. Finally, they show different attitudes toward change. They both dislike the change that occurred within their clan, but Okonkwo is more narrow-minded and cannot accept the change in the Ibo culture, whereas Obierika is more open-minded and views the changes, at first, in a curious way; However, he concludes that the Ibo culture had started to break and fall apart. These two friends have as many differences as they have similarities. Their differences and similarities created the balance within their friendship.
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Things Fall Apart - a literary appreciation
Updated 08 May 2023
Topic Things Fall Apart , Literature Review , Character
Things Fall Apart is a literary appreciation written by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian-born author. The story's premise revolves around the concerns that Africans faced during the post- and pre-colonial periods of the nineteenth century. The story's backdrop may have been based on African events, but the precise events occurred in Nigeria, where the author grew up and writes as if he witnessed the events unfold. The Heart of Darkness, on the other hand, was written by Joseph Conrad, who is of Polish-British heritage. It was published in three installments in Blackwood's magazine. It is about a voyage that was meant to travel from River Thames in London towards the Congo River in Congo Free State. However, the variation between the two in terms of the way the story is presented is that the latter is told from a narrator’s perspective while the aforementioned is written from a witness’ perception.
Heart of Darkness
At the beginning of the story, the author describes Marlow who had an in-depth fascination with maps. The awkward thing about him is that he liked the parts that were blank. However, as he grew up, such pieces became filled up and were no longer blank as they used to be initially. This signified that they had been occupied in all manner of ways. The map is not the focus here but rather the narrator; Marlow. He tells his fellow sailors aboard the board the story of how he managed to become the Captain of the Ivory trading Company. What is for sure is that he had always been ambitious from the time he was young judging from the way he took a look at maps and his fascination to blank spaces that gave him the implication that they were either unoccupied or undiscovered.
“The vicinity is full of diseased Africans who waited earnestly for their deaths after working tirelessly on the railroad as their bodies were sick and thin as air.”
This is the scene where Marlow first set foot on the banks of Congo River after their vessel had docked there. After that, they had been taken by a steamer through a little sea towards their preferred destination by a captain on a Swede. On their arrival at the location of Company station, Marlow is saddened by what he sees. Uncountable Africans are lying helplessly as life slowly seeps from them. Apparently, they had all been working on building the railway line for the colonialists who had taken charge of their country. Marlow was able to discern this from the onset where he saw others actively involved in removing rocks by using explosives to break rocks.
The scene that Marlow witnessed that got him horror-struck was merely a tip of the iceberg of the things that had been taking place in Africa that were attributed to the arrival of colonial powers. He was profoundly hurt by the fact that the individuals he saw were helplessly lying there waiting for their death as though they were not crucial to the whites they had been working for the entire time since their arrival. This gives the outright implication to the reader that the colonialists did not care about the Congolese they had conscripted to work for them at no pay. This is because, to them, they were not essential and they were like donkeys who worked all day tirelessly.
The European powers had taken control of Congo owing to its richness in minerals. The latter made them forget that even Africans were human beings just as they were and deserved better treatment than the one they accorded to them when they arrived in Congo and took control. From the perspective of Marlow’s narration, he is saddened by the scene he bores witness to and how the Captain treats his ‘employees.’ When they set course for Congo, he thought he would find a place as the one he had left in London where people were treated as humans who had rights and freedoms that were observed at all times irrespective of the place they stayed or their historical backgrounds but seemingly that was not the case. Judging from Marlow's initially like for huge spaces on maps, it is evident that he chose to join the rest in the sail to Congo due to its substantial appearance on the map as it was a vast nation.
By reading the chosen text above, one may feel as though they are physically taking part in the voyage Just as Marlow did and was seeing everything he saw inclusive of the dying people. The text drives the human mind back to the colonial times and the manner in which things were handled. Also, it sheds light on the way Africans were treated; overworked all day without rest and time to replenish or even take meals. The reader pities the individuals but then there is no way to help them as the events had taken place in the past, but the human mind has traveled to towards it as though it is still an ongoing process.
Before the advent of slavery, slave trade and colonialism, Africa was a peaceful continent save for the minor cases of communal fights and disagreements which would always be solved and the people would live to see another day as though the events ever took place. However, the advent of colonialists disrupted all that as all the practices and values that Africans believed in were tarnished and dragged away from them as they were busy working for the Europeans on either place they were forcefully taken. They were made to operate against their will which makes it even more painful as they were treated like animals who had no say on what was being done to them at any particular point and time.
Things Fall Apart
The book commences by describing a famous wrestler Okonkwo. Chinua Achebe spends more significant time in the first part of the novel to give a narration of the things that Africans during his season fancied. He succinctly describes the skilled fighter and how his back had never touched the ground while in the fighting session thus made him one of the most acclimated fighters. The author starts by talking about the actual events that take place in Nigeria which is the setting of the story. African greatly valued their cultural practices and wrestling was one of them. By so doing, it is apparent that the author appreciates his culture and beliefs. He then takes us through the wrestler’s journey and how he used to travel from place to place staging fights which he always emerged victorious. It is through Okonkwo that the reader gets to learn of the advancement of the colonialists in Nigeria.
Some of the people revolt as they perceive them as being intruders thus gets them exiled. The Europeans arrived in African lands in which they were not welcomed, and instead of being kind to them, they take them to prison and forcefully settle on their land and do away with their cultural and religious practices. They feel as though the spiritual practices of the Nigerians are substandard and theirs is better. This is quite ironical as they feel the Nigerian's religion is weak and lacks basis and feel that theirs is better yet they are the ones taking control of them by force which does not portray any religious acclimation. Okonkwo hangs himself before he is taken to court for fear that the colonial courts would judge him unfairly and get him exiled. He decides to take the easy way out. This shows how much Africans had no faith in the leadership of the colonialists. However, his action is against the traditions and cultural practices of the Igbo people of whom he is a part. The fact that he chose to do it irrespective of the latter shows how desperate he was to unchain himself from the colonial powers on their land.
Conclusively, both stories give the reader the picture of how events unraveled during the colonial regime by stating the bare facts and circumstances that made Africans feel oppressed. Even though Conrad tries to make Marlow’s narration lively by giving the most painful encounters that Africans went through, Chinua Achebe gives the events first hand through the Protagonist Okonkwo and the mysteries he went through together with his fellow Nigerians. The constant thing about them is that they both make the person reading the text feel as though they are witnessing the events take place and even take them through the tiny details.
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117 Things Fall Apart Essay Topic Ideas & Examples
🏆 best things fall apart topic ideas & essay examples, 💡 most interesting things fall apart topics to write about, ⭐ good research topics about things fall apart, 👍 simple & easy things fall apart essay titles, ❓ things fall apart essay questions.
- Characteristics of Okwonko in Things Fall Apart First, when he bullies his wives and sons in the homestead, he reveals to the white man that, in Africa, a man is the head of the family. Finally, in committing suicide, Okwonko demonstrates to […]
- Things Fall Apart: Ibo Hero Analysis In addition to this, towards the end of the novel, he commits suicide due to the fact that he has no followers when it comes to dealing with the missionaries.
- The Nature of Disturbances in “Things Fall Apart” The author illustrates the disruption of peace by the arrival of white-men in the Igbo community. Nevertheless, the showing up of the white man and Christianity led to a change in this practice, the women […]
- Devotion to Traditions and Culture in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart is a literary work that represents the development of several different ideas like the importance of religion, significance of culture, and power that leads to conflicts of different types; Chinua Achebe made […]
- Things Fall Apart: Collage of Ideas and Main Themes He is not only responsible for his family and each member but he should also care about his clan and the reputation of this clan.
- Themes and Symbolism in Things Fall Apart: Symbols & Examples of Imagery Mother of the Spirits The Mother of the spirits can be viewed as personification by the clan of Umofia and the Mother of Egwugwu.
- Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and the Culture of the Igbo However, when the oracle instructs that Ikemefuna is to be killed, Okonkwo severs his head with a machete even despite the fact that he is warned by the elder that he did not need to […]
- «Things Fall Apart» by Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe Even at the helm of his success, he still remembered how he suffered when his playmate said his father was an agbala.
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe The Umuofia society is religious as it is characterized by the worship of Chuckwu the chief the god, spirits and the ancestors.
- Comparison of Shakespeare the Tempest, T.s. Eliot the Wasteland, and Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart Magic In the opening of the play Prospero is the one who, had conjured the storm in a desire to entice his, brother Antonio and the king of Naples, Alonso.
- Social and Cultural Aspects of Pre-Colonial Africa in Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart The novel emphasize on the encounters of the pre-colonial Africa and the effect of British colonialism during the 19th century. Gender disparity is clear in this village and the crimes are identified with gender where […]
- The European Colonization of Africans in Achebe’s Book “Things Fall Apart” For the last fifty years, these critics have somehow reduced the face value of the text in the book. This forms another set of variation in the face value of the text in the book.
- Post-Colonial Theory in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe We further analyze the individuals and how their actions and activities affect the society’s social culture in relation to the post-colonial society of today.
- Belgian and British Colonial Practices in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe The first distinction is the manner in which the British used to gain control of the people of Umuofia, the village of Okonkwo’s village.
- “Things Fall Apart“ and “Midnight’s Children“: Comparison One of the main qualitative aspects of the ongoing discourse of post-colonialism, is that it often addresses the issue of what can be considered the indications of one’s endowment with the so-called ‘post-colonial’ identity.
- Identity in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe If the person loses the ability to distinguish between cultural history and his/her identity, the consequences can be rather destructive, as in the case of Okonkwo from Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”.
- Okonkwo’s Identity in “Things Fall Apart” In turn, it could be assumed that the vehement feeling of connection to the particular culture influences perceptions and identity of an individual about the place of his/her culture in the world due to the […]
- Society Role in Literature: King Lear and Things Fall Apart The difference is that the leader of the plan is much tougher physically and emotionally, and it is evident that he would not give up his values and morals.
- Literature: Things Fall Apart and The Epic of Gilgamesh The two are internally affected by the struggle between the forces longing for change and those advocating for the restoration of the status quo.
- Colonial Discourse in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe Achebe’s book centers on the life of a village ‘superstar’ by the name Okonkwo and the arrival of white missionaries at the fictional village of Umuofia.
- Novel’ Significance: “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe This is one of the details that can be identified. However, this approach can lead to disastrous effects such as the marginalization of people.
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – Literature Analysis This essay seeks to establish the strengths and weaknesses of the Igbo culture as portrayed in Things Fall Apart to assess the author’s success in achieving his main goal.
- “Things Fall Apart” a Book by Chinua Achebe Literature Analysis The title and the opening lines very much portray the matters that went on in the village, making it the bulk of the story.
- Chinua Achebe’ Book “Things Are Falling Apart” Chinua Achebe, an African author with his origin in Nigeria mainly focuses on the colonization of African countries and the role of women in the society in the village of Umuofia in his book Things […]
- Cultural Conquest in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe The period comprising the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century is known for the European colonization and separation of Africa.
- Writing Tools of “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe The book was written during the pre-colonial time and the author portrayed the western practices as of value to the people in the village.
- Female Submission in Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” Through this book, the reader is brought to the realization of the role that the white man played in the destruction of the bonds which existed in the African culture.
- Colonization in Chinua Achebe’s Novel “Things Fall Apart” The tribesmen did not want to give up the new trading society to fight for their independence, that I why they had accepted the confines of the white man’s rule.
- ”Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin and ”Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe The basic theme of the novel is Ibo culture which is to be changed because of the pressure on the part of the external forces. The introduction of the protagonist of the story Okonkwo is […]
- Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart: Narrative In the same vein, Joseph Conrad’s novella “Heart of Darkness,” written in 1899, is about the struggle of two civilized Europeans, Marlow and Kurtz, after they ventured in to the wouldarkness’ of uncivilized Africa,’ and […]
- Moral Complexities in Things Fall Apart by C. Achebe In spite of the fact that he was one of the greatest men in Umuofia and a leader of his community he was hence not given the burial ceremony that he deserved as an Umuofian […]
- Mirror Image: Heart of Darkness & Things Fall Apart However, Okonkwo is helpless once he finds British colonization creeping in and destroying the traditional parameters of the village and their culture as a whole along with the ramification of their religion with the invasion […]
- Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” & “Things Fall Apart” by Achebe: Comparison The work of art reflects the reality of life and hardship experienced by people: “The vision seemed to enter the house with me – the stretcher, the phantom-bearers, the wild crowd of obedient worshippers, the […]
- The Influence of “Things Fall Apart” In so doing, he renders meaning to the traditional African way of life and he also dignifies the people of the continent.
- The Western Conception of Africa in “Things Fall Apart“ by Chinua Achebe From within the context of the land and the people of it, it is demonstrated that a great culture was already in the throes of change, again reclaiming the power for the people while still […]
- “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe: Theme Study The main theme of the novel, in terms of cultural subjugation and introduction of western traditional values to replace contemporary African cultures are discussed during the course of this novel. This perhaps is the mainstay […]
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” Critical Review Published in 1958, the novel describes the life of a Nigerian village – Iguedo, at the advent of the white colonization in Nigeria.
- “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe: Customs and Rituals To show how powerful Chielo was Chinua Achebe says, ‘As soon as the priestess stepped into this ring of hills, her voice was not only doubled in strength but was thrown back on all sides.’ […]
- “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe: Post Colonial Theory The white men tried to spread the gospel but “the arrival of the missionaries had caused a considerable stir in the village…”..
- Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Turning Sorrow Into Meaning In the novel, the culprit for the destruction of Okonkwo’s personality, the disintegration of the clan, which Elder Mbata speaks of in the second passage, the destruction of family ties and religion, is the person […]
- Culture in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe I also kill a cock at the shrine of Ifejioku, the god of yams” Ibo culture is shown through the world look of the Western society that is why the aspect of behavioral brutality was […]
- Colonizers vs. Ibo Society in “Things Fall Apart” by Achebe In fact, the nature of the colonialists’ influence on the Ibo people and their culture is pinpointed in the very title of the book.
- Protagonists in Oyono’s Houseboy and Chinua’s Things Fall Apart Notably, Okonkwo and Toudi’s masculinity is a false image that is preserved by focusing on the symbol of masculinity and rejecting new ways of progress.
- “Things Fall Apart” by Achebe and “We Should All Be Feminists” by Adichie For instance, the story of the Earth and Sky highlights the interdependence of masculinity and femininity since the earth requires rainfall and sunlight from the sky to thrive.
- Patriarchy and Masculinity in Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” Thus, the novel is built on the juxtaposition of concepts, ideas, and concepts, thanks to which the reader can fully understand the main character’s perception of the concepts of masculinity and patriarchy.
- Ikemefuna’s Place in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Due to this contrast, the protagonist is revealed to the full extent as a father. At the same time, there is no difference between the characters of Nwoye and Ikemefuna.
- Things Fall Apart: Drama and Its Elements in the Novel Achebe chose to write about the traditions and values of the Igbo people to show that they had their own rich culture before the British came. The novel is about the Igbo people, their way […]
- Culture and Humanity: “Things Fall Apart” and “The Gods Must Be Crazy”
- Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” and Harrison’s “The Black Man’s Burden”: Self-Motivation, Courage, and Sacrifice
- Marginality, Dichotomy, and Hegemony in “Things Fall Apart”
- The Relationship Between Cultural Relativity and Superiority in “Things Fall Apart”
- Self-Motivation, Courage, and Sacrifice in Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”
- Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: Tension and Conflict Between Traditional and Modern Views
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: A View of the Impacts of Imperialism
- The Specific Gender Roles in the Village Environment in the Novel “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Imperialism and the Allegory of the Cave in “Things Fall Apart”
- The Positive and Negative Aspects of European Assimilation in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”
- Personal and Cultural Identity in “Things Fall Apart” and “I Lost My Talk”
- Internal Conflict Leading to the Downfall in the Ibo Culture in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”
- Okonkwo, the Power Hungry Warrior in “Things Fall Apart”
- The Problems Facing the Ibo People in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: Inevitable Suffering in Tragedies
- Ways of Colonialism and Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”
- British Imperialism and “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: Exploring the Ibo Culture – Spiritual and Traditional Aspects
- The European and African Narrative Techniques Used in “Things Fall Apart” and “Petals of Blood”
- “Things Fall Apart”: Cultural Changes After African Colonization
- Tragedy in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Things Fall Apart and African Stereotypes
- Female: The Stronger Gender in Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”
- Political and Religious Threats in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: And Intercultural Communication
- Problems and Challenges for Chinua Achebe: “Things Fall Apart”
- Colonialism: Comparisons Between “Things Fall Apart” and Historical Accounts
- Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: Orientalism and Gender Roles
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” and the Character of Nwoye
- Africa Fall Apart: “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and Pre-modern Era Africa
- Chinua Achebe’s Novel “Things Fall Apart”: Theology and Religion
- The American Attitudes Towards the Peasants and the Lower Classes in “The Great Gatsby” and “Things Fall Apart”
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: Finding Unoka in the Mirror
- The African and Ibo Culture in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
- Things Fall Apart and the Influences of Family, Culture, and Society
- Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: The Culture Collision and Its Impact on Okonkwo
- Relationship Between Character and Society in “Things Fall Apart”
- Fate and Free Will in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”
- Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”: A Discussion Of Women In Igbo Society
- What Are Two Themes in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Is the Most Important Message in “Things Fall Apart”?
- How Does Achebe Depict Ibo Culture in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Is “Things Fall Apart” Main Idea?
- What Happens in the End of “Things Fall Apart”?
- Why Is “Things Fall Apart” Historical Fiction?
- What Is the Conclusion of “Things Fall Apart”?
- Who Is the Most Important Character in “Things Fall Apart”?
- Why Achebe Chose the Title “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Are the Conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”?
- How Is Foreshadowing Used in “Things Fall Apart”?
- Is “Things Fall Apart” a True Story?
- What Is the Cave Called in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Are Some Symbols in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Does Okonkwo’s Suicide Symbolize in “Things Fall Apart”?
- Why Is “Things Fall Apart” Important in African Literature?
- What Are Cowries in “Things Fall Apart”?
- Why Is Okonkwo Important in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Is the Story “Things Fall Apart” About?
- What Is the Historical Background of “Things Fall Apart”?
- Who Is the Narrator in “Things Fall Apart”?
- How the Tribe Changes in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe?
- Who Is the Antagonist in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Are the Moral Lessons in “Things Fall Apart”?
- How Is Colonialism Shown in “Things Fall Apart”?
- What Are Two Major Conflicts in “Things Fall Apart”?
- How Is “Things Fall Apart” a Tragedy?
- What Does the Last Paragraph of “Things Fall Apart” Mean?
- What Does the Tortoise Symbolize in “Things Fall Apart”?
- Who Is the Hero in “Things Fall Apart”?
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- Chicago (N-B)
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IvyPanda . "117 Things Fall Apart Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." November 9, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/things-fall-apart-essay-topics/.
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Christianity In Things Fall Apart
The poisonwood bible and things fall apart essay.
His tribes gods are manifestations of the earth and seasons and nature. Okonkwo gained his wealth by farming crops his entire life. To the Umuofia clan, respecting the gods that help with weather and rain is highly important since it is how they survive. Without their beliefs they wouldn't take care of their “home” as well as they do and Okonkwo wouldn't have turned into the man the reader sees in this novel. When the white missionaries come to their clan and try and change their belief system Okonkwo is enraged.
Theme Of Exile In Things Fall Apart
This furthers the author 's point that not only did white people force a new culture on the natives, but those like Okonkwo, who fought to preserve their way of life were silenced and their cause was forgotten by future generations. In both The Poisonwood Bible and Things Fall Apart, the characters that are able to grow in their exile by adapting to new cultures are better off than those who attempt to change the culture instead of themselves. When exiled, initial sadness seems unavoidable. But, the characters who adapt to the new culture or take the best qualities from it, are enriched and have a broader perspective with which to view the
Things Fall Apart Dbq
Although many readers tend to blame the missionaries for the disastrous end to the Umuofian society, Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart, suggests that the real culprit is the clash of customs between both the Africans and Europeans because of the Africans unwillingness to change their customs, the Christian’s feelings of superiority, and the inclusivity of Christianity. The loss of culture signifies the lack of unique views, values, and a sense of belonging. The differing customs of the Africans and Europeans were important factors to the destruction of the Umuofian society due to the Christians disdain for the African’s religion. For example, the Europeans believe they "have to put an end to the awful misery” (Source A).
Oracle Decrees In Things Fall Apart
In the novel, Things Fall Apart, the book portrays the life of the Igbo people in Nigeria before the arrival of European colonizers. The book explores the conflict between traditional Igbo values and the changes brought about by colonialism. One of the key themes in the novel is the importance of the oracle in Igbo society. The oracle decrees that Ikemefuna must be sacrificed to appease the gods for a crime committed by a member of the Umuofia clan. When the oracle's message is delivered to the clan, they are deeply troubled.
Olaudah Equiano's Things Fall Apart
Europeans believed that converting indigenous people to Christianity would civilize them and make them more human (Walshaw, Lecture 12, Slide 3). However, doing so frequently required eliminating or marginalizing African culture and traditions and forcing European philosophical systems upon African nations. "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe also depicts how Christianity and European missionaries affected African civilizations. In the novel, the introduction of Christian missionaries causes a clash of civilizations as the new religion challenges traditional Igbo beliefs and practices. This reflects how Christianity has historically affected Africa, where religion has frequently been employed as a tool for colonization and cultural repression.
Igboland is an area of land in Southeast Nigeria that has its own unique culture which currently has a population of over five million (“Igbo”). Okonkwo is a highly honored patriarch of a Nigerian Igbo village whose story is told in the postcolonial fiction novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Exiled from his village for seven years, he loses all of the success he has worked for. As time passes by, his culture and religion struggle against the influence of newly arrived Christian missionaries as they attempt to change Igbo views and traditions. Throughout the story, the concept of chi is brought up, and it is regarded as a “personal god” in Igbo culture (Achebe, “Chi in Igbo Cosmology”) and is significant because it can guide a man to success or failure.
Chinua Achebe Symbolism Analysis
The clan was not allowed to do anything unless everyone put a vote on it which did not happen since it was against the law to kill intentionally. The white missionaries were convincing the people with the building of school and church, and being to have more freedom than the Igbo traditions. Locust are so heavy that they break the branches of the tree which symbolizes the rupture of Igbo traditions under the white
Stereotypes In Things Fall Apart
The proverbs in Things Fall Apart allow for a deeper look into the Igbo culture and their beliefs. Sayings that initially seem to drive Western and African societies further apart end up pushing them together when the meaning is deciphered. An example of this is the proverb, “Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break” (19). Basically it's saying that as long as everyone's equal all is well, but as soon as someone decides to takeover let them have bad luck.
Essay On Gender Roles In Things Fall Apart
Many aspects of their lives have men as the prominent heads of their households, but women also have some importance in many of the concepts. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe presents the idea of how Igbo culture and religion define the roles for each gender and examines how unequal roles in society can lead to conflicts between each gender in order to illustrate how they can lead to permanently damaged relationships. The main driving forces behind gender role beliefs in Things Fall Apart are a result of the ideologies set by the Ibo people. Their culture dictated men as stronger people who did more work, while women were dictated as individuals who were weak and inferior because they did household activities.
Things Fall Apart Nwoye Identity Analysis
This springs a collision between Okonkwo and Nwoye. Nwoye wants to become Christian and Okonkwo does not approve of what the white men introduced to the Ibo culture. There were other people in the clan like Okonkwo that went against their faith and claimed that everything the Christians believe in was false. Nwoye knows his father has a bad temper and so when Okonkwo found out that he wanted to convert, Nwoye knew that it would cause conflict, and Okonkwo would want to kill him. " Answer me," roared Okonkwo, "before I kill you!"
Okonkwo's Conflict In Things Fall Apart
This was a fateful act because it could urge Umuofia to attack the missionaries, but Umuofia decided to not go to war. Okonkwo explains how the white missionaries have come in and converted all the Igbo people into their religion until their own tribes become too weak to fight back against them. The white missionaries described by Okonkwo, “brought a lunatic religion, but he had also built a trading store
Things Fall Apart Nwoye Essay
In Chinua Achebe novel, Things Fall Apart Nwoye a young man under Okonkwo’s responsibility is affected positively by the introduction of western ideas into the Ibo culture. This being said Nwoye has found a passion for being apart of a religion not known by any local in Igbo called Christianity, to some it was a blessing and to others a disgrace. To Okonkwo he feels that anybody who converts to Christianity is a disgrace to their village. And how surprising is it that his own son converts to a Christian. And in his conversion he tries to escape his strict culture and find out who he is as a person.
Family Roles In Things Fall Apart
The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe talks about the Igbo, an indigenous Nigerian people, and about a culture on the brink of change. Indeed, through the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo leader in the fictional Nigerian village of Umuofia, Achebe describes how the prospect and reality of change affect different characters. In the Igbo culture the family unit plays a fundamental role and the members of a family highly value the mutual respect for each other, a reverence for all past fathers, and unity. The father is considered not only as the head of the family and its provider, but the defender of its honor as well as the teacher of his sons.
Change In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
The story has many examples of the importance of community through tradition and religion, which also plays a major part in the story. For example, we see the community working together and supporting each other throughout the book, until change visits them and changes their culture and muddles their ideals. The introduction of the white man forever changes the Igbo culture which we see at the very end of the book when Okonkwo kills the missionary to try to bring war to drive the change out, and no one supports him. The community has changed, and Okonkwo hadn’t realized it, this change was destructive to both the Igbo culture and to Okonkwo, as he realizes that the change he is trying to prevent is inevitable, and the community he once was respected in and loved, had turned their backs on
Summary: Okonkwo Falls Apart
Because the missionaries do not respect the Igbo religion, tension in villagers like Okonkwo increases. Once the white missionaries arrive in the village of Igbo they immediately start criticizing the natives religion. One missionary even told the people that “they worshipped false gods, gods of wood and stone.” completely
More about Christianity In Things Fall Apart
- Christian terms
- New Testament