Things Fall Apart | Study Guide

Chinua Achebe

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Things Fall Apart Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 19 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Things-Fall-Apart/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2016, July 28). Things Fall Apart Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Things-Fall-Apart/

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Things Fall Apart Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed July 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Things-Fall-Apart/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Things Fall Apart Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed July 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Things-Fall-Apart/.

Things Fall Apart | Part 1, Chapter 8 | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

Okonkwo does nothing but drink wine for two days. He calls for Nwoye, who leaves him when Okonkwo dozes off. Okonkwo can't escape thoughts of Ikemefuna. The following day, Ezinma brings food to Okonkwo and sits with him while he eats. Okonkwo wishes that Ezinma were a boy.

He visits his friend Obierika and tells him he is worried about Nwoye. He adds that his "children do not resemble [him]." Obierika reasons that the children are still young. The two discuss Ikemefuna's murder. Obierika declined to participate and asks Okonkwo why he took part in the killing of his own son. The two of them are informed of the death of some elderly people in the clan.

Okonkwo starts feeling better and believes that the problem is simply that his mind is unoccupied.

Later, Okonkwo returns to Obierika's compound, where a ceremony is taking place to set the bride-price for Obierika's daughter. The bride-price is the amount that the suitor's family will pay to obtain Obierika's daughter as a bride for their son. During the betrothal ceremony, the men drink wine and negotiate the price using broomsticks to symbolize their offers and counteroffers. The negotiations over, Okonkwo and the others discuss customs of other clans that they regard as outlandish. They also believe the concept of white men—beings with skin white as chalk who walk on feet with no toes (meaning the white men wear shoes)—to be fantastic. The men doubt the existence of these beings, whom they have heard of but have never seen. One jokingly compares white men to lepers, as the Igbo term for leprosy translates to "white skin."

Analysis

This chapter deals with the emotional aftermath of Ikemefuna's murder. Okonkwo drinks as a form of escape but cannot rid himself of guilt. Enzima's presence comforts him. He sees in his daughter a strength that is missing in his other children, except Ikemefuna. This disturbing realization reawakens his guilt.

Okonkwo's connection with Nwoye is clearly broken. While Nwoye comes to Okonkwo when he is called for, he leaves as soon as possible. Nwoye does not want to be near his father.

Obierika seems an unlikely companion for Okonkwo. Although they are on the same social and economic level, Obierika does not feel the same compulsion toward masculinity. Readers learn that a fear of appearing weak would not influence Obierika to assist in the killing of his son. He disagrees with Okonkwo's killing of Ikemefuna.

This is the first time that the concept of white men is introduced in the novel. The comparison to lepers, people with a disease that causes skin sores and nerve damage, is apt. The white men will destroy the villagers' culture just as leprosy destroys its victims.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Things Fall Apart? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!