Things Fall Apart | Study Guide

Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart | Part 3, Chapter 25 | Summary

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Summary

The District Commissioner descends on Okonkwo's compound with a group of soldiers and court messengers. He asks for Okonkwo, but Obierika tells him he is not there. After the District Commissioner threatens the men, Obierika agrees to show them where Okonkwo is and asks for the group's help.

Obierika then leads the District Commissioner to the tree where Okonkwo has hanged himself and asks the men to take the body down. Because suicide is an abomination, Obierika says, "His body is evil and only strangers may touch it." He also explains that only strangers may bury the body.

Obierika speaks angrily to the District Commissioner and says Okonkwo was a great man. Obierka declares, "You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog." The District Commissioner tells his men to remove the body.

At the novel's end, the District Commissioner, who is planning to write a book about his experiences, decides this event might be worth a paragraph. He plans to call the book The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

Analysis

Okonkwo's physical death is anticlimactic. The changes in his village and demise of the clan have left him dead inside.

The family is noticeably absent from this chapter. Despite his dedication to the clan and his family, Okonkwo dies alone. Even his good friend cannot go near him. Because of his suicide, Okonkwo is considered an abomination—a tragic fall for a man who was once highly respected.

Okonkwo's decision to end his life can be seen as heroic. He was a principled man who could not survive in a society that did not abide by his view of right and wrong. Always a man of action, he took the only one available to him. Unable to face change, he rejected it.

The District Commissioner claims to understand the people of Africa and plans on writing a book about them. His proposed title shows how little the white men understand the culture they have destroyed.

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