Justification for Teaching:

Things Fall Apart is the extraordinary debut novel by celebrated author Chinua Achebe. Known as being perhaps the most popular book in modern African literature, Things Fall Apart is a powerful, tragic narrative about family, power, masculinity, and colonialism.

The novel follows Okonkwo, a respected member of the Igbo people who is exiled for years after a terrible accident. When he returns, he finds that British colonists have settled on Igbo land and have begun to change the Igbo society in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Okonkwo doesn't realize how drastically the British have changed Igbo culture until the novel's final pages, and his misunderstanding of the circumstances leads him to make a series of decisions that seal his tragic fate.

Key Literary Elements & Techniques

  • Foreshadowing
  • Metaphor
  • Irony
  • Personification
  • Symbolism

Themes and Motifs

  • Individual & Society — Okonkwo resists the changes that are overtaking his community.
  • Tradition — The British missionaries begin to change the Igbo culture. Some Igbo welcome the changes, but some oppose the changes to their traditions and values.
  • Responsibility — As a respected member of the Igbo, Okonkwo feels responsible for them in some ways. This responsibility guides some of his actions throughout the novel.

Related Works

Themes of individual & society

Into the Wild

The Grapes of Wrath

The Metamorphosis

Themes of tradition

The Joy Luck Club

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Good Earth

Themes of Responsibility

A Doll's House

As I Lay Dying

Go Ask Alice

Key Facts

  • Length: 209 pages
  • Lexile® Measure: 890
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9-10
  • Publication Date: 1958


  • One of Time Magazine's 100 Best English-Language Novels Published since 1923


A film version directed by Hans Jurgen Pohland was released in 1971. It is credited as being the first feature film shot entirely in Nigeria.

The novel was also adapted as a television miniseries in 1987. This miniseries was shown exclusively in Nigeria.

Your Students will love:

  • The story's excellent pacing and construction — there are no portions of ​Things Fall Apart​ that seem superfluous

Students may have problems with:

  • Some of the violence in the novel, especially when Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna

Available from Prestwick House:


Things Fall Apart — Paperback

Things Fall Apart — Hardcover

Teaching Guides:

Literature Teaching Unit:

Teaching Unit

Downloadable Teaching Unit

30 Books + Teaching Unit

AP Literature Teaching Unit:

AP Literature Teaching Unit

Downloadable AP Literature Teaching Unit

30 Books + AP Literature Teaching Unit

Activity Pack:

Activity Pack

Downloadable Activity Pack

30 Books + Activity Pack

Multiple Critical Perspectives Guides:

Multiple Critical Perspectives Guide

Downloadable Multiple Critical Perspectives Guide

30 Books + Multiple Critical Perspectives Guide

Feminist Approach Mini-Guide

Mythological/Archetypal Approach Mini-Guide

New Historicist Approach Mini-Guide

Response Journal:

Response Journal

Downloadable Response Journal

30 Books + Response Journal

Complete Teacher's Kit:

Complete Teacher's Kit

30 Books + Complete Teacher's Kit

Other resources:

Q & A Presentation (CD-ROM)

Things Fall Apart