Posted by M. on .
My son has recently read in class, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe. He has an upcoming test. One of the items will be about, "Why Okonkwo killed the messenger and then hung himself." He is stumped on this. I obviously would not have enough time ot read the book in time to help him with his answer for the test. If someone has any input, I would be able to help coach his answer....Please reply. Thank you very much!
First of all, it's important to remember the major divisions of this book. In the first (longest) part, the author has done a thorough job making sure we understand how this village and others in their clan functioned -- their religion, their justice system, their family relationships, their economic system, etc. -- all before any Europeans showed up. Then Okonkwo (one of the highest ranking men in the village) kills a boy and has to pay a price -- exile for seven years for him, his wives, and children, all his houses and possessions in the village are destroyed.
Then the story transitions to Okonkwo's exile in his mother's village. During this time one of his close friends from his own village visits him regularly and lets him know what's happening in the village. Most of it is bad news -- and all this is very upsetting to this extremely traditional and quite violent man.
Finally the seven years are up, and he and his family move back to the village, but everything is different. The Europeans' influence (both church and military) has changed everything, and the village elders don't seem to have the will or the means to stand up to the Europeans. Okonkwo is outraged; he cannot live under these conditions.
Be sure to read the analysis of Okonkwo's character in this summary.