Fiction Aspects in ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

Set in a traditional African village, ‘Things Fall Apart’ is a literary fiction that draws its mettle from tradition and traditional African socio-economics. Fiction can be described as an imagined subject that is discussed in context. Chinua Achebe gathered moral evidence of real events that affected the society during that time and subsequently, he chose his characters well enough to fit the roles he had stipulated. Okonkwo fits the lead role. He is a symbol of a struggle against traditional African laziness and subsequent success against poverty through hard work and dedication.

This paper seeks to identify the aspects of fiction in this novel. The purpose of such an effort is to explain why literary fiction has functionalism as a core moral lesson provider. The book ‘Things Fall Apart’ for a long time has been African literature classes core set book. Due to the gently poked humour, the literary finesse and the literary fiction angle of the book makes it a very interesting and literary exemplary book. The fiction aspect draws literary interest from scholars. The underlying need to understand the elements of fiction used to make the theme and purpose of the book rhyme consistently to the end of the story is important.

In this paper, we identify aspects of fiction, how the author has used contemporary African tradition to create a protagonist and a scenario that depicts a struggle of a society that is gradually accenting to change in tradition, socioeconomics, and religion. It is important to note that, imagery is consistently used throughout the book to make sense of contemporary events and traditions. Through imagery, Chinua Achebe successfully makes up the social issues in the village of Umuofia to come to the surface. It is imagery and direct personification we identify fiction as the literary approach in this book.

It is important to note that, Chinua Achebe personifies and idealizes to promulgate fiction and literary excel. The aspects of fiction are etched deep in a social-cultural 1800 Ibo village trends. Literary, it is arguably more difficult to identify fiction as prevalent in the book since the events and the characters are almost real in context. However, it is important to note that, Achebe has only personified them and idealized in context, what the village should have lived. Secondly, his main character, Okonkwo is his ideal male character in an Ibo village during those early years when civilization and religion began taking a toll on Africa. As such, through personification and metaphorically ascribing to socio-cultural situations and social-economic betterment, fictitious characters idolized through Okonkwo provide a rationale of how to rise against poverty and ascend to a social class.

Elements of fiction

Fiction functions based on three aspects, plot, character, conflict, and setting. Other aspects include point of view and symbol. All these aspects of fiction can be employed, literary, to create a theme of a fictitious story and set the course of the complete story. This makes the story have meaning, function, and mettle. Fiction is commonplace though it draws its function from contemporary world events. Chinua Achebe, as argued earlier, has set up his story, ‘things fall apart in the traditional Ibo society. This dates back to the early 1800 West African civilization.


Using character, conflict, and setting, Achebe has made a magnificent scenario in context. We see a tradition that is not different from modern-day societal aspirations. Poverty is contextualized as a day-to-day social problem. Okonkwo is a ‘symbol’ (an aspect of fiction) of the usual struggle against abject poverty. Here, symbolism is evident as an aspect of fiction. Though this paper attempts to narrow the context of fiction to specifics, it is an impossible try since ‘Things Fall Apart’ draws its functionality from all aspects of fiction and each part of the story is based on fiction.

Okonkwo is a man born from a poor family. His father is poor and a pitied man in society. Okonkwo rises against this odd by working hard on the farm to become a very successful farmer. Farming symbolizes the core economic activity in the Ibo community that represents the African communities. Here symbolism features predominantly as the core aspect of fiction. Achebe seems to draw his theme from symbolic contexts and emphatically employs personification and imagery to provide viewpoints that narrow to the mettle of the story.

Tradition in the Ibo social set-up has it that, wrestling is a reputed and highly coveted sport (social activity) symbolizing a proactive community that thrives in competition and strength. The wrestling matches are indicative of the prowess of values and beliefs across the Ibo social ranks. It also symbolizes the community’s ability to repel adversary through strength. Besides such an aggressive approach to society’s beliefs and practices, wrestling symbolizes the power of the elite in this community. Of course, the more powerful and physically strong one is denoted influence and place in the society. Okonkwo, little known across the social circles climbs the traditional corporate ladder by becoming a rich man, the best wrestler, and respected social leader.


‘Things Fall Apart is a contemporary story about the Ibo community of Nigeria. The story narrows its plot to an Ibo village in 1800. Chinua Achebe further narrows the story to a specific character ‘Okonkwo.’ Okonkwo is the village’s, great man. He has risen ranks from a mere peasant to a successful farmer, a husband to three wives, and one of the greatest wrestlers of the Ibo village. The context of conflict ascends from his title among his people, secondly, he is a member of the ‘egwugwu’s ‘who impersonate ancestral spirits. This caboodle also impersonates tribal rituals. They are a source of socio-religious conflict that goes a long way to make the Ibo a vivid picture of the African tradition and how it marred socio-economic development.

Conflict manifests itself again in the colonialist period. The white man tries to introduce religion to which the Ibo resists vehemently. Chinua Achebe uses Okonkwo as his main ‘conflict’ subject. Okonkwo outdid abject poverty. Poverty is a conflict in context. Okonkwo rose the social ranks to become a great wrestler and a member of the egwugwu club. His positions highlight the conflict within the society.

Conflict in ‘things Fall Apart’ is observed from the traditional values that inhibit the community from doing things the right way. A powerful culture subscribed to by the Ibo’s is a conflict. Okonkwo is an actor in the ‘things at Ibo falling apart’ conflict as Achebe hits on tradition and Ibo values. Colonialism is another conflict. The Ibo community I colonized by the British. Subsequently, the Ibo begin to subscribe to English values include religion.

It becomes practically impossible for the traditional elite to adopt these values for they remain steadfast to the traditional values and beliefs. Okonkwo is the symbol of the psychological crisis as top society leader’s grapple with the reality that their teachings are not needed and that the social values and laws they represent have become defunct in the advent of new values that erode the formers. Okonkwo represents this class of shocked society leaders and Ibo religion gurus who have been sucked into a shocking crisis of social values and morals changing hands. The tradition goes down the drain and Okonkwo cannot adapt to these changes. Society falls apart. It disintegrates into a confused ‘English’ learning community. The outcomes of colonialism are dire and tradition is sucked into oblivion, social class is replaced with nothing, the wrestlers are nothing but just fat huge men, and the egwgwu’s are nothing but just a bunch of cult-like liars. All that Okonkwo had worked so hard for went up in smoke just like that.

These changes accompanying colonialism are incredibly demoralizing. Okonkwo cannot take it; he is frustrated and angry for everything he had is falling apart. He kills an African employed by the British and commits suicide, which is a grave sin in the tradition he has clung to desperately. Chinua Achebe is successful in his attempt to pit two cultures against each other. The two cultures, the Ibo culture, the English culture clash, and the consequences are tragic. The aspect of the conflict is the most significant choice of contextualizing fiction in the book ‘Things Fall Apart.’