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Postcolonial Literatures Unit 1 Things Fall Apart
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Things Fall Apart
VERY SHORT TYPE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. What is the name of Okonkwo’s motherland?
Ans: Mbanta is the name of Okonkwo’s motherland.
2. What holy animal does Okonkwo’s clan suspect the Christians have killed and eaten?
Ans: A python.
3. What is the name of the first missionary who comes to Umuofia?
Ans: Mr Brown.
4. How many villages does Umuofia comprise?
Ans: Umuofia comprises nine villages.
5. Whom did Okonkwo beat in his legendary wrestling match?
Ans: Amalinz the cat.
6. In what country does ‘Things Fall Apart’ take place?
Ans: In Nigeria.
7. What do the inhabitants of Mbanta believe is responsible for the white man’s miraculous survival after having built his church in the Evil Forest?
Ans: His eyeglasses.
8. What is an Ogbanje?
Ans: A changeling child.
9. What does Okonkwo constantly wish Ezinma had been?
Ans: A son.
10. What does a palm tapper tap?
Ans: A tree, for wine.
11. For what reason is Okonkwo exiled?
Ans: He unintentionally kills a fellow clan member.
12. What are the outcasts required to do before they may join the church?
Ans: Shave their heads.
13. What is the name of Okonkwo’s second wife?
14. Where are the Christian women forbidden to go when the clan hears of the killing of a royal python?
Ans: To the stream.
15. What does Okonkwo do even though he is advised not to?
Ans: Help kill Ikemefuna.
16. What crop is king for the Igbo?
Ans: Yam crop is king for the Igbo.
17. When the Igbo refer to the “iron-horse,” what do they mean?
Ans: A bicycle.
18. What is the polite name for leprosy among the Igbo?
Ans: The white skin.
19. When do the clan members share the kola nut?
Ans: When gathering for social occasions.
20. In the allegory of Tortoise, what do the birds give to Tortoise?
21. How does Okonkwo die?
Ans: He hangs himself.
22. Why are the villagers happy when the locusts arrive?
Ans: Because they taste good.
23. What does Okonkwo fear most?
Ans: Becoming like his father.
24. The title Things Fall Apart is taken from a poem by:
Ans: William Butler Yeats.
25. From where has Achebe taken the title ‘Things Fall Apart”?
Ans: The title of Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” is taken from William Butler Yeats’ poem “Second Coming”.
26. What does ‘Ezigbo’ mean?
Ans: Ezigbo means the good one (child). Ezigbo is the daughter of Ekwefi and Okonkow. She is also called Ezimna; meaning true beauty.
SHORT TYPE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. How does Ikemefuna become Okonkwo’s adopted son?
Ans: Ikemefuna becomes Okonkwo’s adopted son through a dispute between the village of Umuofia and a neighbouring village, Mbaino. After a woman from Umuofia is murdered in the Mbaino market, Okonkwo travels to Mbaino and demands that the village surrender a virgin and a young man in order to avoid war with Umuofia. Mbaino complies, and upon return to Umuofia, Okonkwo turns the young man, Ikemefuna, over to his first wife for safekeeping.
2. Why is Ezinma so special to Okonkwo?
Ans: Ezinma is the only child of Okonkwo’s second wife, Ekwefi, and she is also Okonkwo’s favourite daughter. Okonkwo feels drawn to Ezinma for her precocious intelligence and her strong will. More than any of Okonkwo’s other children; Ezinma possesses all of the personality traits required to grow into a distinguished member of society. In other words, she is the most masculine of Okonkwo’s children, and Okonkwo frequently laments that she was not born a boy.
3. Why does Nwoye convert to Christianity?
Ans: Nwoye converts to Christianity largely to reject the excessive standard of masculinity his father wants him up to uphold. Nwoye is not at all like his father, and Okonkwo constantly punishes him for being different. Stifled by his father’s expectations, Nwoye runs away and joins the European church. Nwoye’s conversion also provides him an opportunity to learn reading and writing, which, along with the poetry of the Bible, feeds his love of storytelling.
4. What causes Okonkwo’s exile from Umuofia?
Ans: Okonkwo’s gun goes off unexpectedly during Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s funeral, accidentally killing the dead man’s son. Killing a clansman, even unintentionally, constitutes a crime against the earth goddess. To compensate for the crime and protect the rest of the villagers from the earth goddess’s wrath, Ezeudu’s descendants burn Okonkwo’s compound, slaughter his livestock, and banish him from the village for a period of seven years.
5. Why does Okonkwo hang himself?
Ans: After Okonkwo and others return from a period of imprisonment by the Europeans, members of the nine villages gather to discuss a course of action. Four European messengers appear and try to stop the meeting, and Okonkwo immediately kills one of them. But instead of applauding the murder, as he expects they will, Okonkwo’s clansmen grow furious. Okonkwo sees his clansmen’s reaction as a sign that no one will stand with him in defence of the nine villages. Rather than face the ultimate emasculation of succumbing to the white men, Okonkwo returns to his compound and hangs himself.
6. Why are the villagers shocked when Okonkwo beats his wife during the Week of Peace?
Ans: The villagers are shocked when Okonkwo beats his wife during the Week of Peace because these days mark a sacred time during which the villagers of Umuofia honour the earth goddess and secure her protection and blessings for the year. As the narrator explains, “It was unheard of to beat somebody during the sacred week.” Any violation of peace during the week puts the community at risk for a bad harvest or worse. For his crime, Okonkwo is fined one length of cloth and one hundred cowries, and he is asked to sacrifice one of his goats and one of his hens.
7. Why are the villagers excited whenever the locusts come?
Ans: The villagers are excited whenever the locusts come because the locusts are a delicious, plentiful source of food. For this reason, the villagers view the locusts as a blessing rather than a nuisance. According to the elders, the locusts are guarded in a cave by a race of “stunted men” who release the locusts once a year for seven years, one time per generation.
8. Why does Nwoye admire Ikemefuna?
Ans: Nwoye admires Ikemefuna because Ikemefuna possesses many skills Nwoye lacks and Ikemefuna is an engaging presence to be around. Nwoye looks up to Ikemefuna as an older brother. Ikemefuna knows how to set traps to capture rodents and make flutes out of bamboo sticks. Even though Nwoye knows most of the folk tales Ikemefuna tells, Ikemefuna’s versions have a fresh spin to them since he comes from a different clan, and this fascinates Nwoye.
9. What warning does Ogbuefi Ezeudu give Okonkwo about killing Ikemefuna?
Ans: Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a village elder, warns Okonkwo that he should not kill Ikemefuna because Ikemefuna regards Okonkwo as his father and to kill him would be a sin. Ogbuefi Ezeudu clarifies the warning by adding that even though the Oracle sanctioned Ikemefuna’s death and Ikemefuna is not Okonkwo’s biological son, Okonkwo should not bear a hand in the boy’s death since the “boy calls [him] father.” Okonkwo would essentially be committing an act of filicide by killing the boy.
10. Why does Okonkwo kill Ikemefuna?
Ans: Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna because he doesn’t want to appear weak in front of his fellow clansmen. Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a village elder, informs Okonkwo that the Oracle has decreed that Ikemefuna must be killed but that Okonkwo should not be the one to kill him, since Ikemefuna regards Okonkwo as a father. When Okonkwo and a group of clansmen take Ikemefuna to the woods to be killed, a clansman’s blow fails to do the job, and the clansman yells to Okonkwo for help. Afraid of appearing weak, Okonkwo deals the fatal blow to Ikemefuna despite Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s warning.
11. Why do the villagers burn Okonkwo’s buildings and kill his animals?
Ans: The villagers burn Okonkwo’s buildings and kill his animal to purge the village of his sin, which was the accidental killing of a village elder’s son, an act the villagers view as a crime against the earth goddess. In order to cleanse the earth of Okonkwo’s wrongdoing, his belongings must be burned and his animals destroyed. Even though the villagers’ actions seem to be a form of revenge or punishment, there is no malicious intent in their actions, they are merely “taking care of business.”
12. Why are the villagers confused by Mr. Brown’s ideas?
Ans: The villagers are confused by Mr. Brown’s ideas because his ideas are, on the surface, illogical. Mr. Brown’s explanation of the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity, which states that God exists in three forms the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit confuses the villagers. They do not understand how the Holy Trinity, essentially three beings, can be accepted as one god. The villagers also do not understand why Mr. Brown condemns their worshipping of multiple gods as sacrilege but worships what they view as three gods himself.
13. What is an egwugwu and why are the villagers horrified when Enoch unmasks one?
Ans: According to tradition, any village ancestor who has been buried in the earth returns during an annual ceremony as an egwugwu. In reality, an egwugwu is a clansman wearing a mask representing an ancestor who has come back from the dead. As such, unmasking an egwugwu is viewed as the equivalent to killing the returned ancestral spirit and “reduc[ing] its immortal prestige in the eyes of the uninitiated.” For this reason, the villagers are shocked and horrified when Enoch unmasks one of the egwugwu.
14. Why does Okonkwo kill the District Commissioner’s messenger?
Ans: Okonkwo kills the District Commissioner’s messenger to rebel against the Commissioner and the missionaries. Prior to this event, the Commissioner tricked the clansmen and put them in jail for burning down his church. Knowing the clansmen might retaliate, the Commissioner sent court messengers to try to stop Okonkwo and the other clansmen from organising an uprising against him. Okonkwo’s killing of the messenger sends a clear message to the Commissioner.
15. Why can’t Okonkwo be buried?
Ans: Okonkwo can’t be buried because he committed suicide. As the clansman tells the District Commissioner, “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life… an offence against the Earth.” For this reason, the clansman cannot bury Okonkwo’s body since it is now considered “evil” . Putting something evil into the ground is an offence to the earth goddess and would most certainly curse the ground and the clan.
16. Why does Things Fall Apart end with the District Commissioner musing about the book that he is writing on Africa?
Ans: 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 colonisation 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 colonisers 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.
17. What is the nature of Okonkwo’s relationship with Ezinma?
Ans: Although Okonkwo is generally misogynistic, his favourite 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.
18. What does the repetition of the number seven suggest about the novel?
Ans: 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.
19. In Things Fall Apart, why does Okonkwo commit suicide and what is the final message of this work?
Ans: Okonkwo was once considered the greatest warrior alive, but he cannot stop the European Christian white men who have come in to take control and change his village traditions. Okonkwo finally gives up hope and hangs himself, even though it is a disgrace to commit suicide in his tribe.
20. What is the moral lesson of Things Fall Apart?
Ans: One of the most important moral lessons of Things Fall Apart is the danger of what we would now call toxic masculinity. Okonkwo epitomises this attitude, even though it damages those around him, including members of his own family. His traditional attitude toward the role of men in society leads him to commit acts of violence that create misery and cause him considerable problems.
21. Compare and contrast Okonkwo and his father in Things Fall Apart.
Ans: A similarity between Okonkwo and his father in Things Fall Apart is that both men are tall and largely fail as parents. Differences include that Okonkwo’s father was lazy, poor, and cowardly while Okonkwo is successful, wealthy, and a great fighter.
22. What is the significance of the title “Things Fall Apart’?
Ans: The title of Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” is taken from William Butler Yeats’ poem “Second Coming”. The title foreshadows the tragedy which the novel depicts. It also draws attention to the parallels between the English oppression of Ireland and its oppression of Nigeria.
23. Describe the Feast of the New Yam.
Ans: Just before the harvest, the village Umuofia holds the Feast of the New Yam to give thanks to the earth goddess, Ani. The women scrub and decorate their huts, throw away all of their unused yams from the previous year, and use cam wood to paint their skin and that of their children with decorative designs. This is the beginning of New Year.
24. What is the meaning of the Igbo proverb, ‘When a man says yes his chi says yes also?
Ans: The chi is an individual’s personal god. This Ibgo proverb implies that a man’s actions affect his destiny as determined by his chi. Okonkwo’s chi is considered “good” but he “[says] yes very strongly, so his chi [agrees].” In other words, Okonkwo’s actions to overcome adversity seem justified, but because he is guided by his chi, his denial of kindness, gentleness, and affection for less successful men will prove self destructive.
25. Why had the men of Umuofia called a meeting?
Ans: A neighbouring tribe Mbaino had murdered an Umuofia woman and they gathered to discuss revenge. They also wanted to make sure that every man was okay for the battle.
26. What role do egwugwu play in village culture?
Ans: The egwugwu are a symbol of the culture and independence of Umuofia. The egwugwu are seen as ancestral gods, though in actuality they are masked Umuofia elders. The egwugwu served as respected judges in the village culture, listening to complaints and prescribing punishment and deciding conflicts.
27. What was considered the greatest crime in Umuofia?
Ans: The greatest crime a man could commit was to unmask an egwugwu in public, or to say or do anything which might reduce its immortal prestige in the eyes of the uninitiated. And this was what Enoch did. This was more of a crime than killing even a holy royal python or a fellow clans member.
28. Describe the ‘Isa-ifi’ ceremony.
Ans: The marriage ceremony presented in “Things Fall Apart” has three parts; The Bride Price, Uri and Isa-ifi. In the Isa-ifi ceremony, the bride sits in the centre of the circle of women and men and holds a hen in her right hand. She is asked some questions. If all the questions are answered truthfully, the hen’s throat is slit and the groom takes the bride away to go on a honeymoon.
29. What were the ingredients that went into making the medicine for ‘iba’?
Ans; The earth provides ways for humans to combat disease. The ingredients that went into making the medicine for ‘iba’ were the leaves, grasses and barks of trees.
30. Give an account of Chielo’s journey to Agbala, having Ezinma on her back.
Ans: While Ekwefi and Ezinma are telling folktales to each other during a moonless night, Chielo arrives. She says that the god Agbala wants to see Ezinma. Ezinma, who is very afraid, climbs on Chielo’s back. In the dark night, Cheilo, having Ezinma on her back, is headed towards the cave of Agbala. Ekwefi follows them. Chielo enters the cave with Ezinma. Ekwefi sits and waits outside the cave.
31. Why was Okonkwo famous?
Okonkow was famous because he defeated the most famous wrestler, Alalinze. Moreover, he is a well known farmer and warrior. He is also famous because of how he was able to define himself in conjunction with socially established norms of “success”.
32. According to the oracle, why do Unoka’s crops fail year after year?
Ans: Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, visits the tribe’s oracle, Agbala, to discover why he has bad harvests. Agbala’s priestess says that he has no one but himself to blame for his bad harvests. She points out his laziness in contrast to his neighbours’ admirable work ethic and sends him away with simple advice: “go home and work like a man.”
33. What does the repetition of the number seven suggest in ‘Things Fall Apart’?
Ans: In several places, 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 refers to resting on the seventh day for both cultures.
34. Who brings the pots of wine in ‘Uri’ ceremony of Obierika’s daughter?
Ans: The groom’s family brings the pots of wine in ‘Uri’ ceremony of Obierika’s daughter. They bring fifty pots of palm-wine, a very respectable number. The women of the house drink some wine, including the bride, Akueke.
35. Describe the observance of the sacred week and throw light on the various customs relating thereto.
Ans: People did not work during the week of peace. People drank palm wine and made merry. Most of them talked about the religious offence done by Okonkwo. According to the oldest man of the village, the man who broke the peace was dragged on the ground through the village until he died. It was only on one or two occasions for many years that the peace was broken in the past. It was also said by someone that it was a bad omen for a man to die during the sacred week. It was the custom in Obodoani that the men who died during this week were not buried but thrown into the dangerous part of the forest. It was a bad custom which the men brought into practice due to lack of understanding: The result was that their clan was full of evil spirits of these unburied dead who were always doing harm to the living human beings.
36. Who was Ogbuefi Ezeudu? What did he tell the other men who came to visit him?
Ans: He was the oldest man in the village. He told the two men visiting him that the punishment for breaking the peace of Ani had become very mild in their clans. He also told that his father told him that in the past the man who broke the peace was dragged on the ground through the village until he died but after a while it was stopped because it spoilt the peace which it was meant to establish. Ogbuefi Ezeudu also said that in Obodoani, there was a custom that a man who died during the week of peace was not buried but thrown into the dangerous forest. They threw away a large number of men and women without burial. The result was that their clan was full of the evil spirits of these one unburied dead hungry to do harm to the living human beings.
37. Okonkwo’s palm kernels had been cracked by a benevolent spirit.” How far it is true?
Ans: When Okonkwo called Usugo a woman because he had no title to his credit, the old man retorted saying that Okonkwo should not have uttered the words disgracing Usugo. At this he (Okonkwo) felt sorry for what he had said.
It is not true that Okonkwo’s palm kernels had been cracked for him by a benevolent spirit. He made his fortune himself. He struggled very hard to rise and prosper. Any man in his place would have surrendered to the sorrows, sufferings and difficulties falling in the way to progress. He faced all the difficulties with courage and reaped his harvest proving him a boon in his life.
At an early age he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler. That was not luck. It was due to his hard work and sincerity that he was chosen by the nine villages to convey a message of war to their enemies or make them agree to give a young man and a virgin to compensate the murder of Udo’s wife. When he reached Ikemefuna’s village he was given a lad named Ikemefuna and a virgin who was given to Udo in place of his murdered wife. He was treated as a man of great confidence by the villagers and the lad handed over to him by the village for due care.
38. Describe the discussion held between Ekwefi and Chielo at the ground of wrestling?
Ans: Ekwefi said to the woman standing beside her that she had never seen such a large crowd. The woman also asked her if Okonkwo nearly killed her with his gun. Ekwefi replied that it was true. Both the women talked for a long time. The woman with whom she talked was called Chielo. She was the priestess of Agbala, the oracle hills and the caves. Chielo was a widow with two children. She was very friendly with Ekwefi. She loved Ezinma, the only daughter of Ekwefi very much. She was another person when the spirit of Agbala was on her.
39. Give a description of the last wrestling match between Okafo and Ikezue.
Ans: The sun was about to set when the last match began. Okafo and Ikezue were among the best wrestlers. Some were of the opinion that Okafo was better than Ikezue and others regarded Ikezue as the better of the two. Last year, neither of the two could win the match. Ikezue held out his right hand, Okafo seized it and both started their tactics to down each other. Each one was playing his tricks to down the other. But one knew what the other was thinking. Both the wrestlers did their best but none could down the other. But it looked like a drawn match. The two judges were ready to move forward to separate them. All of a sudden, Okafo raised his right leg and swung it over his rival’s head. He was successful in throwing Ikezue in the bout. Okafo was carried home shoulder-high by his supporters. They sang in joy and the young women clapped.
40. Who was Ezeani? Why was he displeased with Okonkwo?
Ans: Ezeani was the priest of the earth goddess, Ani. He called on Okonkwo at his house. He brought out a Kola nut and offered it to the priest. The priest was in an angry mood. He told him that he would not eat in the house of a man who had no respect for gods and ancestors.
Okonkwo told him the reason why he beat his wife. The priest told him that it was the planting season and one week should be observed as a week of calmness. He agreed that his wife was at fault but she should not have been beaten by him during the planting season. He added that he had made a great mistake. He had insulted the earth goddess. She might refuse to give them good crops. His evil deed could ruin the whole clan. However, the priest asked him to bring to the shrine of Ani the next day, one she goat, one hen, a length of cloth, and a hundred cowries, offering of which would be necessary to pacify Ani’s anger. Okonkwo did as the priest said; he also took with him a pot of palm-wine. But he had to do that against his will only to please the priest.
41. What were the most delectable dishes served in the feast as referred to in the story of “Tortoise and the Birds’ ‘ told by Ekwefi?
Ans: Hot soup full of meat and fish, pounded yam, yam pottage cooked with palm oil and fresh fish and palm wine were the most delectable dishes served to the guests in the feast arranged by the people of the sky for the birds.
42. Describe Okonkwo’s departure from Umuofia? What made him quit his native land?
Ans: When Okonkwo was handling his gun on the occasion of the funeral of Ezeudu, a piece of Iron exploded from his gun and pierced the body of Ezeudu’s sixteen years old son. So, the only course open to Okonkwo was to leave his native place. It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clan man. Obierika and half a dozen other friends came to help and to console him. And before the cock crowed, Okonkwo and his family were fleeing to other lands. It was a little village called Mbanta beyond the borders of Mbaino.
43. Who was the royal Python? Describe him as introduced in the novel?
Ans: The royal Python was a sacred animal which was supposed to be the emanation of the God of water. It was addressed as “Our Father”, and was allowed to go wherever it chose, even into people’s beds. It ate rats in the house and sometimes swallowed hen’s eggs. If a clansman had killed a royal Python accidentally, he was to make sacrifices of atonement and perform an expensive burial ceremony such as was done for a great man. No punishment was prescribed for a man who killed the Python knowingly. Nobody thought that such a thing could ever happen.
This Python is said to be killed by one of the outcasts. Perhaps it never did happen. That was the way the clan at first looked at it. No one had actually seen the man do it. The story had arisen among the Christians themselves.
44. What does the repetition the number seven suggest in ‘Things Fall Apart?
Ans: In several places, 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 refers to resting on the seventh day for both cultures.
45. According to the oracle, why do Unoka’s crops fail year after year?
Ans: Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, visits the tribe’s oracle, Agbala, to discover why he has bad harvests. Agbala’s priestess says that he has no one but himself to blame for his bad harvests. She points out his laziness in contrast to his neighbours’ admirable work ethic and sends him away with simple advice: “go home and work like a man.”
46. What do the following expressions mean?
(a) Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten. (Chapter one)
Ans: Proverbs facilitate expression; they help us express things better and more effectively.
(b) If a child washed his hands he could eat with the kings. (Chapter three)
Ans: If one works hard and prepares himself/herself well, one can achieve the highest goal in life.
(c) A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing. (Chapter four)
Ans: Unusual events arise because of significant reasons.
(d) Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble. (Chapter four)
Ans: One should be grateful for one’s good-luck.
(e) When a man says yes, his chi says yes. (Chapter four)
Ans: God helps those who help themselves.
47. Why was Okonkwo ashamed of his father Unoka?
Ans: Because his father was a weak and lazy person and in the Ibo society only physically strong and hardworking people were respected.
48. Why did Ezeudu advise Okonkwo not to have a hand in the killing of Ikemefuna? Why did Okonkwo not heed his advice?
Ans: Because Okonkwo had brought up the boy for three years and Ikemefuna looked up to Okonkwo as his own father. As per Ibo customs, this would be a crime against the earth goddess. Okonkwo did not heed the advice of his friend Ezeudu because he was afraid that others would consider him a coward.
49. Who were the egwugwu? What was their specific function in Ibo society?
Ans: The Egwugwu were the adjudicators representing the spirits of the ancestors of the clan. They were members of the elan itself in whom the spirits of the ancestors were believed to have entered after the performing of certain rituals. Their specific task was to dispense justice in cases of dispute among the members of the clan.
50. In what way did the Christian missionaries confront the Africans in Mbanta?
Ans: The Christian missionaries successfully challenged the superstitious beliefs of the Ibo traditional society thereby claiming superiority for their own religion – Christianity-over the traditional religious practices of the Ibos.
51. What were the consequences of the white man’s arrival in Umuofia?
Ans: The society was divided among the converts and the non-converts. Once the clan stopped speaking in a unified voice, the white man took over the function of the administrator of the society. The white man also introduced trade by way of monetary incentive, thereby further dividing the hitherto homogeneous Ibo society.
52. List the major traits of Okonkwo’s personality.
Ans: Okonkwo was physically very strong and hardworking. However, he was impatient and short tempered, often resorting to physical violence to assert his superiority. He was very conscious of his public image and did everything to guard it. Okonkwo was very rigid in his views and outlook and refused to adjust himself to the changed situations. While imposing his will and views upon others, he refused to grant them the freedom to have an independent opinion or outlook. As a result of this inflexibility in his character, Okonkwo failed to view and assess a situation realistically and this proved to be the primary reason of his isolation from fellow Umuofians and his tragic end.
53. Things Fall Apart is both specific and universal in character.How?
Ans: Things Fall Apart is both specific and universal because while dealing with specific characters in-a specific society at a specific point of time, Achebe invokes the very predicament of man. The novel thus transcends and barriers of time and place.
54. Is it correct to call the style of Things Fall Apart simple? If not, why?
Ans: The style of Things Fall Apart is simple in appearance only. It is so because Achebe adopts the style of oral narration. However, on closer scrutiny we find many features of style and uses of language, which make it quite sophisticated. The use of Ibo words and proverbs is the most prominent of these features.
LONG TYPE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. Discuss the historical context of the play.
Ans: The 1950s in Nigeria was a decade of increasing political and ethnic tensions as the British colony inched its way ever closer to independence. The British Empire had come under strain during the Second World War. After the war Nigerians began to pursue independence with greater fervour. Debates raged between British and Nigerian politicians as to how quickly power could and should-be handed over. As independence drew nearer, Nigerian politics began splitting along ethnic lines, with ethnically defined political groups each vying for representation.
What we now call Nigeria gathers together numerous ethnic groups that historically had never formed a political unity, and independence presented an urgent need to come together as a modern political state. Yet Nigeria’s many natural resources-petroleum foremost among them-are distributed unevenly across the country. The fact that the country’s three largest ethnic groups occupied regional majorities (Hausa in the north,Yoruba in the southeast, and Igbo in the south) caused great concern about the uneven distribution of wealth in the post-independence period. When Achebe drafted Things Fall Apart in the mid-1950s, he wrote against the dynamic, anxious background of a soon-to-be-independent Nigeria. So why, given the significance of Nigeria’s coming independence, did Achebe write a novel about the pre colonial past? To answer this question, consider the way the novel ends, with a British District Officer reducing the last two hundred pages to a single paragraph.
The British Empire swallows up Igbo history and culture, at once erasing it and absorbing it into the more encompassing history of the British colonial adventure. Something similar could be said for the histories of the Hausa, Yoruba, and many other ethnic groups that the British forced into a single geographical entity. By setting his novel in the precolonial past, Achebe suggests that modern Nigeria is a newfangled idea. As independence approaches, Things Fall Apart reminds its readers-and particularly its African readers that the precolonial past can be a resource for navigating the postcolonial era.
Writing about an African past clearly had political significance given the previous century of British colonial rule. However, some fellow Nigerian writers did not share Achebe’s enthusiasm about using literature to recount the past at a future-oriented moment. In his play A Dance of the Forests, Yoruba writer Wole Soyinka cautioned against just such a project. Soyinka’s play premiered at the Nigerian independence ceremony in 1960, and warned against the social and political dangers of misrepresenting precolonial history to launch a fledgling nation.
Although Achebe resists idealising pre colonial Igbo life, Soyinka’s concerns did prove prescient. In 1967, eager for autonomy and for control of petroleum reserves located in its region, the Igbo-majority state known as Biafra attempted to secede from Nigeria. The three-year civil war that ensued stirred up animosity against the Igbo, a majority-Christian people often cast as having been privileged during the colonial period. Igbo dominance of Nigerian literature since the publication of Things Fall Apart has only enhanced this perception of Igbo privilege and elitism. In this sense, Achebe’s emphasis on a specifically Igbo past introduces further complication to an already complex debate about the meaning and use of African history.