Things Fall Apart  by Chinua Achebe

Week 7: Begin Things Fall Apart     

Mon: Read Ch 1, p 3-8 (5 pgs)  XXXFamily Tree of Okonkwo
View some of the sites below:
The Kola Nut is an important part of many African ceremonies.     
Igbo wedding photos     
A few photos illustrating Igbo Culture     Details of Igbo Culture (Includes map)   Tribal Map of Nigeria
Igbo Old School Music    cowries        African Proverbs   

"The Second Coming" by Wm. Butler Yeats

Ch 2-4, pgs 9-35 (26 pgs)
XXX2 The Coming of Ikemefuna
XXX3 Okonkwo's History
XXX4 Peace Week

Big Ideas for 2nd Quarter
power of story
purpose, passion, and leadership potential
dignity, integrity, self-respec
power through conviction

Story is a basic principle of the mind. One story helps make sense of another.
The stories we hear and the stories we tell shape who we are and who we become.
The power of stories and poetry is lost if we don't listen.
The power of leadership can come from within - not from what we do, but from who we are.
Literature inspires. Language leads.
Leadership can be a magnet or a beacon rather than a bullhorn or an organizational hierarchy.
Effective leaders share similar qualities.
Out of adversity comes strength of character.
Character counts.

Wed: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes What does this poem say? What does it mean? What does it suggest?

Ch 5-7, pgs 36-62 (26 pgs) harmattan
XXX5 The New Yam Festival; Ekwefi and Ezinma
XXX6 Ezinma
XXX7 The Fate of Ikemefuna

Ch 11-13, pgs 95-125 (30 pgs)
X11 a folktale; Ezinma's Calling
X12 a Bridal Shower
X13 A Funeral and an
XXXXAccidental Death

Essay for this Week:
Do you like Okonkwo or not?  What parts of his character appeal to you and which repel you? 
Basic Essay Structure:
Introduction: attention-grabber; basic information; your opinion (thesis). 
Body: Example paragraphs
Give specific examples from the story, a minimum of three, one paragraph each. 

Ch 8-10, pgs 63-94 (31 pgs)
XXX8 Sons, Titles, The Bride Price; Mention of White Men 
XXX9 Ezinma: Obanje and Iyi-Uwe
XX10 The Egwugwu Hear a Lawsuit 

1. Compare Obierika to Okonkwo.  Obierika is a man "who thinks about things."  Consider Obierika as a kind of foil to Okonkwo --a parallel or contrasting character.  Note the instances when Okonkwo fails to heed the advice of others, especially of Obierika: what are the consequences?  Three times in Part I, Okonkwo breaks Igbo taboos: what drives him to do so in each case?  What are the consequences to Okonkwo, to his family, and to his community? 
2. Even though Achebe works to educate his readers about African culture and to combat demeaning stereotypes, he does not present Igbo society as ideal or perfect.  Part I of Things Fall Apart is a complex, sometimes critical portrait of this culture.  What aspects of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe seem to question or criticize?  How does Achebe use characters like Obierika, Okonkwo, and Nwoye to offer such social criticism of Igbo society?  How do the people of Umuofia react to change? 
3. In what way(s) can Things Fall Apart be considered a "response" to depictions of Africans in Western literature such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness--or other images of Africa as portrayed in the Western media, film, books, etc., with which you are familiar?  How does Achebe's novel "correct" such European depictions of Africa and Africans, and offer the reader an Afrocentric (Africa-centered), rather than a Eurocentric (or Western-centered), perspective?  (For help, see Achebe's "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness")

4. Describe your reading experience to Things Fall Apart Part I; Give a response to this cross-cultural encounter.  How are you reacting to being exposed to traditional Igbo culture and people?  Why do you think you are responding as you are?  What seems most different and/or foreign to you?  What seems most similar and/or familiar to you? 
5. Already in Part I of the story, internal rivalries and disagreements have begun to erode the unity and integrity of the village.  What are these internal conflicts?  What part does the village leader Okonkwo play in the dissension?  How does Okonkwo jeopardize his own authority within his community? 
6. The chi or personal spirit is a recurring theme in the novel, a spiritual belief important to understanding the main character Okonkwo.  Interpret this proverb, spoken of Okonkwo: "When a man says yes his chi says yes also." Trace further references in the novel to the chi.  What role does Okonkwo's chi play in shaping his destiny?  Trace the other factors at work in Okonkwo's case

Focus Questions
What qualities do effective leaders share?
How do you live a life that will inspire others?
How can you lead through relationships with people as opposed to leading through control over people?
How do ordinary people transform into extraordinary individuals?
What factors influence the development of leadership qualities?

Week 8: Things Fall Apart   

"...only the story...can continue beyond the war and the warrior.  It is the story that outlives the sound of war-drums and the exploits of brave fighters.  It is the story...that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind. Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather it is the story that owns us and directs us."  Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah (1987)

"In choosing to quote Irish poet William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming," Achebe implies that the process of cultural breakdown is not limited to Ibo society but is - to use a word Achebe dislikes - universal. For the society as a whole, the process of falling apart is never final."  Novel Study Guide, HBJ

We don't know one-tenth of the stories knocking about. But if you want to understand a people's experience, life and society, you must turn to their stories. I am constantly looking for that moment when an old story suddenly reveals a new meaning." Chinua Achebe

"Story is a basic principle of mind. Most of our experience, our knowledge, and our thinking is organized as stories. The mental scope of story is magnified by projection - one story helps us make sense of another."   Mark Turner, cognitive scientist. The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language

"Literature, whether handed down by word of mouth or in print, gives us a second handle on reality… [It enables] us to encounter in the safe, manageable dimensions of make-believe the very same threats to integrity that may assail the psyche in real life."
Chinua Achebe

"The world is big. Some people are unable to comprehend that simple fact.  They want the world [and its peoples to be] just like them and their friends, its places like the manicured little patch on which they live.  But this is a foolish and blind wish.  Diversity is not an abnormality but the very reality of our planet."
Chinua Achebe, Bates College Commencement Address 27 May 1996

"Americans have their vision; we have ours. We do not claim that ours is superior; we only ask to keep it."
Chinua Achebe

"Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners."
Virginia Woolf

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
"Invictus" Henley

There was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.
"There Was a Child Went Forth" from
Leaves of Grass  Walt Whitman

I am a part of all that I have met.
"Ulysses"  A.L. Tennyson

Ch 14-16, pgs 129-147 (18 pgs)
XXX14 A New Beginning
XXX15 The Village That Killed the White Man
XXX16 Nwoye's Choice

Tues: Ch 17-19, pgs 148-167 (19 pgs)
XXX17 The Evil Forest; Okonkwo's Reaction
XXX18 Conflicts with Christians: Outcasts,
XXXXXXThe Python, and Ostracizing
XXX19 A Feast Before Leaving
"If We Must Die" by Claude McCay

Ch 20-22, pgs 171-191 (20 pgs)
XXX20 Okonkwo's Return   
XXX21 Mr. Brown
XXX22 James Smith, A different kind of man

Thur: Ch 23-25, pgs 192-209 (17 pgs)

XXX23 The District Commissioner
XXX24 Action
XXX25 Conclusion

"If We Must Die" by Claude McCay

Week 9: Things Fall Apart            Quiz on Friday

To Read, View, or Watch this Week:

Aristotle's Tragic Hero

Possible Additional readings:
Oedipus the King by Sophocles  (Incl in Everbind Anth)
"Children Confer Glory on a Home" by John S. Mbiti
(Incl in Everbind Anth)
African Proverbs from
Speak to the Wind  by Kofi Asare Opuko (Incl in Everbind Anth)
"Exiles" from
Testimonies of Exile by Aben Busia (Incl in Everbind Anth)
"Letters" from
The Color Purple  by Alice Walker (Incl in Everbind Anth)
"Terrell Owens apologizes to Eagles and Fans" AP Article
(Incl in Everbind Anth)
"General Act of the Berlin Conference" 1855
(Incl in Everbind Anth)
"Colored People" from
Color People: A Memoir by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Writing for Week 7:
Character Analysis Essay and Public Speaking
(Not a choice)
Writing Due Friday: Character Analysis
Use this character analysis chart as a pre-write, analyze Achebe's character development of Okonkwo and the minor characters in Things Fall Apart. Note the function of the major and minor characters, character development, motives and causes for action, and describe the function of the moral dilemmas in the novel.

Another character analysis chart

Speaking--all speaking engagements should last five to ten minutes. 
Recite a poem, speech, or excerpt from a speech or essay from this unit. 

Analyze poetry using Think-Pair-Share. 

After reading the quotations on the power of story and the selected texts, remember five stories from your life that tell what's most important about you (your character, your motivation, your compassion, your passions, your humor, your friendships, etc.). Share one or more with your classmates. How will you use these stories in the future?  Be sure to watch Ira Glass on Storytelling #1 (5 min 24 sec).   

Other Things To Read, View, or Watch
Achebe, Chinua. "The Role of the Writer in a New Nation".
Hughes, Langston.  "Mother to Son". 
Hayden, Robert.  "Those Winter Sundays". 
Stevens, Cat.  "Father and Son".  Discussion.
Whitman, Walt.   "There Was a Child Went Forth"
Whitman, Walt.   "One's Self I Sing"
Henley, William Ernest.  "Invictus"
Tennyson, Alfred Lloyd.  "Ulysses"

"Joseph Campbell--On Becoming an Adult."  Retreived from  Uploaded by campbellfoundation on Jul 1, 2010.  (5:40).

1st Quarter Exam Review Checklist
as per ELA 12 Michigan Merit Curriculum Requirements, Page 22-23
Website glossary;  textbook glossary on pgs 1189-1203

Narrative Text
Literary Elements
plot structure (antagonist/protagonist)
point of view

figurative language
free verse
attitude toward subject (tone)

A Bildungsroman Novel... the story of the education, growth and development of a protagonist, both in the world and within himself or herself

...will show how life experiences shaped who the main character becomes often an autobiographical form where fact mingles with fiction

...usually develops its own sense of reality

may include the ancestry of main character

The main character often leaves home to search for own identity

Narrative Text (continued)
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Author Study: Zora Neale Hurston

Literary Elements:
frame story
change in points of view: first/third person/voice
tone / attitude / effect


dialect / slang / jargon / accent
colloquial expressions
concrete; abstract
denotation; connotation

Things Fall Apart
Author Study: Chinua Achebe
figurative language
xxx metaphor
Xxx simile
Xxx proverb
Achebe uses proverb to
xxx- underline theme
xxx- foreshadow events
xxx- comment on character
xxx- articulate Ibo values
Historical/Cultural Perspectives
Discuss moral/ethical issues in texts read
Discuss literal, historical, and political perspectives

Postcolonial Literature
Wikipedia Article
University of Singapore Site

Informational Text
Genre Study
Characteristics of  informational reports
college application essay

Expository Elements (Moyers)
subtleties of sarcasm
sentence structure

Organizational Patterns (Special Reports)
reorganization of printed material for web publication

ACT Characteristics of Complex Text