Long Summary of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:
The novel Things Fall Apart is comprised of three parts; each part further divided into small chapters. Here is chapter wise summary of Things Fall Apart.
Summary of Things Fall Apart (Part One):
Summary of Chapter 1:
Okonkwo, an Igbo villager who is well-known throughout the nine villages and even beyond whose “fame rested on solid personal achievements.” He is a man of strength, and his wrestling ability became famous when he defeated Amilinze ( a great wrestler) in the cat match during community festivals in a crowd of more than 10,000 people. But despite his status and his success, Okonkwo is haunted (now it’s not quite the ghost of Hamlet’s father walking around at midnight brooding about vengeance), but He sees his father everywhere he goes.
His father, Unoka, owes debts all over the town and spend all of his time playing the flute and drinking palm wine. As a result, Okonkwo grow up knowing that his entire town believes his father is a loser, and the agony of it stays with him throughout his life (as Achebe writes, “his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness”). But, for Okonkwo, this fear is beyond worse than all fears of capricious gods, of magic, even the fear of evil does not make him frightened that much.
This fear drives him to go from being a sharecropper to power, status, and wealth. But, unfortunately, it also makes him into a kind of jerk. Sometimes he pounces on people, and this pouncing and, more generally just his rage, eventually drives him to three transgressions that he can’t undo, and his punishment is seven years of exile.
Summary of Chapter 2:
(Okonkwo’s world, like Oedipus’s ancient Greek world, is one in which faults are constantly punished, and he is punished for his three errors.) The night is dark and moonless, and the narrator claims that the darkness terrified even the bravest of the Igbo. At night, the woodland is a creepy area. Okonkwo suspects that a conflict is on the cards: he’s a renowned fighter, and war allows him to gain more respect. But the competition is solved peacefully, and Okonkwo accepts a boy from his neighboring tribe. Ikemefuna is handed to Nwoye’s mother after being taken home with Okonkwo. The youngster is homesick and perplexed as to why he has been separated from his family. However, he became friends with Noy and opened his eyes to a new world of light.
Summary of Chapter 3:
We start to learn more about Okonkwo’s past. Unlike his friends, he is born into poverty and does not inherit anything from his debt-ridden father. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, went to the tribe’s oracle, Agbala, to find out why he had such awful harvests, according to a popular myth repeated in Okonkwo’s hometown. The story jumps back to Unoka interacting with the oracle when Okonkwo was still a boy many years ago. Then, we start to learn more about Okonkwo’s past. Unlike his friends, he was born into poverty and did not inherit anything from his debt-ridden father. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, has gone to the tribe’s oracle, Agbala, to find out why he was being punished.
Before the death of Unoka, he got some severe disease of the stomach, and he was forced to leave the house (the disease was considered an abomination to earth). He died under a tree of the evil forest. Okonkwo met a man, nawakibie, who helped him to make his wealth and reputation. He works hard not because he is building his future, but he is paying the debts of his late father that make him angry. It is a tragic year as some yams are killed due to a long period of drought, and the rest of them rotted due to endless floods, but he survives due to his inflexible will. Okonkwo does not just break the week of peace; he shatters it. First, he shot his wife, luckily it did not hit the target, but it was one of the terrible shots.
Summary of Chapter 4:
Ikemefuna is afraid when he moves into Okonkwo’s house and refuses to eat until he is taken home. However, Okonkwo isn’t having it with Ikemefuna’s hunger strike and threatens him with a club, forcing him to finish his supper.
During this time, His first mistake was the ferocious beating of one of his wives during the week of peace, a week where all violence is forbidden, to honor the Earth goddess and make sure that his year’s harvest will be bountiful.
Summary of Chapter 5:
Okonkwo is worried about the holiday before three days of harvest as he is going to spend time with his three wives and their whole family (unlike his father, who is a workaholic). The entire day is spent terrified when he beat and tried to shoot his second wife, Ekwefi. He accuses him of killing a banana tree (when you see the plot, there was not even a single trace of a banana tree). Finally, everyone is scared enough to go against him and protest.
The chapter ends with beating drums and three daughters from each wife bringing their mother’s food. Okonkwo’s favorite daughter is Ezinma from his second wife, but he does not show that soft corner.
Summary of Chapter 6:
This chapter is about the wrestling match in which Obierika’s son Maduka defeats his opponent quickly and leaves the audience astonished. Chielo, a priestess and a good friend of Ezinma, talks to Ekwefi and discovers that something disturbed Ezinma’s life as a child. It ends with a praise song for Okafor (he won the match against Ikezue) of course, then even though they don’t follow him, the community can’t stay intact.
Summary of Chapter 7:
Okonkwo’s severe transgression is the killing of a boy with his machete, and it’s not just any young man; it’s Ikemefuna (whom Okonkwo raised in his house for three years, a young man who his father). Ikemefuna had been given to the clan members as a sacrifice by neighbouring village to avoid was, and he’d been sent to live in Okonkwo’s compound, where he became a friend of Okonkwo’s son.
Summary of Chapter 8:
After the sacrifice of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo does nothing but drink wine, and for two days, he eats nothing. Finally, he calls for a boy to sit with him, but his son Noy is afraid and kills his best friend. As he looked at his ten years old daughter Ezinma, he wished if she were a boy.
When Okonkwo still can’t escape these thoughts, he visits his friend Obierika and describes his situation. He is happy to see him and sits with him to listen to him. He tells him that he is worried about Noy, adding that his children do not resemble him. Obierika reasons that children are still young, and then they discuss Ikemefuna’s murder. His friend declined to participate, and he asked why Okonkwo took part in killing his son.
The two of them are informed of the death of some older adults in the clan. However, Okonkwo soon feels better and believes that his main problem is an unoccupied mind. After the ceremony of Obrieka’s daughter’s marriage price, they sit and laugh at white men as they’ve heard of them and never actually have seen them. ( white men will soon appear and will destroy their tribes)
Summary of Chapter 9:
Ekwefi bangs on Okonkwo’s door in a panic and shouting Ezinma is dying (she is the only one with the audacity to knock on his door like that). Before she says anything, Okonkwo runs towards Ekwefi’s hut and declares that Ezinma has a fever. We learned that Ekwefi lost nine children before her daughter, and she is the center of her mother’s life. Ezinma has had this disease before, but everyone thinks that it is adequately cured, but now Okonkwo again prepares the medicine, and after taking it, Ezinma falls asleep quickly.
Summary of Chapter 10:
A crowd has gathered to listen to a public trial, and nine clan members will hear the issue. They are the most powerful and most secret of the clan; they represent the ancestral spirits in their role as mass judges.
It was an issue between a husband and his wife; the husband beat his wife, one beating nearly killed her, and another caused her to miscarry. During the nine years of their marriage, he treats her unwell and almost beat her day and night. It was about the bride price, and in-laws brought the matter in front of the clan. The clan members ask the husband to bring wine to his in-laws and beg forgiveness from his wife.
Summary of Chapter 11:
Ekwefi tells Ezinma about the tortoise, a cunning creature; who kills birds to enjoy the best of a feast leaving only scraps for them. The birds get their revenge causing the tortoise’s shell to break. A medicine man put the body back together, which is why the tortoise has such a rough shell instead of a smooth one.
In the meantime, the child’s voice shrieks through the night, and she comes to the Konkwo’s compound to fetch Ezinma because Abala the Oracle wants to see the little girl. Well, Konkwo pleads with Chielo to come back later as his child is sleeping. Ekwefi wants to go with her daughter, but Abala’s instructions were the opposite; he wants her alone.
When Chielo takes her daughter, Ekwefi tells her husband that she will follow them regardless of the punishment. So she follows her all night through all of the nine villages, Chielo takes Ezinma into the Oracle’s cave, and Ekwfie waits outside. Okonkwo appears startling and sits with her; she appreciates his presence and thinks of when she first came to Okonkwo’s hut. Then she can relate the story of tortoise haste and greedy with her husband.
When she comes to fetch Ezinma, Chielo acts as priestess to the Oracle Abala; commanding her speech and appearance; Ekwefi hardly spoke her at the wrestling match like a close friend. On the other side, Okonkwo’s real character reveals when he convinces Chielo not to take her daughter and then asks his wife to rest. And Ekwefi’s character is also told when she follows her daughter that she is agreed to go against everyone even if it’s God to save her daughter.
Summary of Chapter 12:
Chielo returns Ezinma to Okonkwo’s compound, and in the morning, Okonkwo, as his usual grumpy self, hadn’t slept all night. He was an anxious wreck and had made multiple trips to the cave before he found Ekwefi there waiting. Nevertheless, the villagers are festive as they prepare for Obrieka’s daughter’s betrothal ceremony. Gabriela has purchased a giant goat and plans to present it to his in-laws, and everyone prepared food for the ceremony. His daughter’s in-laws arrive with a lot of wine (almost 50 pots).
In this chapter, his all-night vigil and grave concern for Ezinma indicate how he cares for his family. Communal spirit is shown in the preparations for the betrothal ceremony in which the community functions as one big family. Every part of the ceremony is cooperative.
Summary of Chapter 13:
Umofia awoke to the news that Ezeudu, a respected old warrior who told Okonkwo not to take part in Ikemefuna’s execution, had died. A cold shiver runs down in Okonkwo’s back as he remembers the death of Ikemefuna. Ezuedu was the oldest warrior in his village, and he had taken three of the clan’s four titles, and his large funeral reflects the status.
Men are beating drums, branding the machetes, and fire off their guns as well as cannons. Okonkwo joins the men who shoot their guns, and his weapon explodes unexpectedly, and shrapnel pierces the heart of Ezuedu’s son (16-year-old boy). So Okonkwo was exiled for not beating his wife, not for killing Ikemefuna but for an accident. His gun explodes during a funeral. Although it was an accident, he had killed a clan member and had offended the earth goddess, so he went into exile.His family and he depart the village, and their home complex is set ablaze. As is often the case in the community, Okonkwo’s best friend, Obierka, who assists Okonkwo during his exile, wonders, “why should a guy suffer so grievously for a sin he had admitted inadvertently?” The answer we got in the form of the proverb, “as the elders said, if one finger brought oil, it soiled the others. Therefore, Okonkwo had done the terrible sin, and he must be exiled; otherwise, the whole community might pay the price of what he had done. This attitude chase the community’s fear of being destroyed along with their communal memory of elders and ancestors.
(At the end of the narrative, the community decides not to follow Okonkwo because of this desire to preserve the group united at all costs.) Part one of things fall apart by Chinua Achebe ends with Okonkwo’s exile from his town.
Summary of Things Fall Apart (Part Two):
Summary of Chapter 14:
Okonkwo is welcomed by Uchendo (his maternal uncle), and his children give Okonkwo land, assist him in building a compound and supply him with CDMS to plant his farm. This new beginning always requires hard work, but that’s the thing that Okonkwo is always willing to do.
Yet, it no longer gives the enthusiasm to Okonkwo that once he had, he was on a path to become the Lords of the clan, and that goal now seems very far away. Uchendo is the family patriarch; one of his sons is marrying a new wife. Following the ceremony. Uchendo gathers everyone together and speaks to Okonkwo, reminding them that others have also suffered. Uchendo’s loss has been significant as he has buried five wives and 22 children; his advice to Okonkwo is that accept your exile and make the best of it.
Summary of Chapter 15:
Obeirika visits Okonkwo during his period of exile, and the two men speak with Uchendo. Old Uchendo notes that men in his days had a friend and distant clans while the current generation stayed at home and afraid of next door neighbors. Obeirika tells them that a clan has been wiped out a white man appeared in a nearby village. Why? Well, because the British Empire and missionaries are branches of the same tree. This chapter closes with the news that white men have arrived and the Oracle’s prophecy that more will follow. Finally, the Oracle metaphorically calls white men locusts.
Summary of Chapter 16:
Its been two years, and Obierika has returned to mbanta with the report of missionaries that they have built a church in umofia. They have even converted some villagers to Christianity. The elders are displeased but don’t believe the new religion will last. Only one young person is genuinely enthralled when the first missionaries appear before Okonkwo and his family: Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye, and Okonkwo can sense his son slipping away. And, in his terrible wrath, he tries to control him by pressing him down at the throat and frightening him (and, as you may know, threatening a teenager only makes them run away).
After this accident, Nwoye joins the missionaries for good. Okonkwo’s takeaway from this incident is that his son is weak, not a jerk. “Okonkwo’s eyes were opened, and he the whole matter,” he says as he sits in front of a fire, reflecting about his son’s departure and remembering that people dubbed him “the roaring Flame.” Living fire begets cold, impotent ash.” So Okonkwo decides that he is the roaring flame and that his son is the cold, impotent ash.
The first converters are those outcasts from society; they are not even allowed to cut their hair (that time reminds us of the Europeans who have failed to see human beings as human beings). It eventually led to the arrival of the British Empire and radical change in Igbo society. And then finally, Okonkwo’s world completely crumbles.
Summary of Chapter 17:
The missionaries have been preaching in the marketplace of mbanta, and they request land and receive the evil forest, which the villagers believe is filled with sinister forces. The elders offer more land, and no one expects them to accept the offer and fail miserably. So after the missionaries build the church, the villagers wait for their gods and ancestors to take revenge. The villagers keep waiting for the missionaries will die in a forest, but they don’t. Some of the villagers moved by this and began to convert.
Summary of Chapter 18:
In this chapter, the church faces challenges because it welcomes the village community’s outcasts when two of them come to church, the congregation protests. A Christian has killed a Python, the most revealed animal in Mbanta, and so the Mbanta leaders gather to decide how to proceed. The Python is so beloved that the Igbo refer to it as our forefathers.
Okonkwo wants to force the missionaries out of the village for this offense. However, the leaders decide that the matter is between the Christian who killed a python and the Egbo gods. Okonkwo says this is cowardly and views the clan of Mbanta as womanly, unlike the clan of this fatherland in Umofia. But, he furiously explains, if someone comes into his Hut and defecates on the floor, he wouldn’t shut his eyes to it and let it be between the person and gods. He had smashed his head.
When the man who kills Python falls ill and dies, the leaders are satisfied that goods are still able to fight their own battles, and as a result, they decide not to ostracize the Christian. In this chapter, Christians show a willingness to accept everyone, even the bottom of society, and give them the chance to be seen as equals.
Summary of Chapter 19:
Now seven years have passed in Mbanta, and Okonkwo has prospered, but he is anxious to return home and regrets his exile every day. He sent money to Obierika to construct huts in his former compound so that his family would have a place to go when they returned. At the close of the rainy season, there is a beautiful rainbow called the serpent of the sky. Okonkwo gathers his three wives and instructs them to prepare a great feast. This feast will be his way of thanking his mother’s relative.
This chapter highlights Okonkwo’s insistence on adhering to tradition and expectations. He views the feast as both a social obligation and a chance to demonstrate how he has prospered in Mbanta.
Summary of Things Fall Apart (Part Three):
Summary of Chapter 20:
After seven years, Okonkwo is now allowed to enter the umofia, and he is waiting to regain what he has lost in seven years. He intends to build an enormous compound, take two new wives and get titles for his sons. In addition, he wants to show off his wealth by initiating them into the most exclusive circles of clan society.
He has also recovered the tragic break with Nwoye, whom he now disparagingly calls a woman, and expects to bring up his five other sons like men. He also wishes to find a husband for her beloved daughter, Ezinma, with whom he is incredibly close. Ezinma has become a beautiful young woman who understands her Father and carries out his request, including persuading her half-sister over whom she wields strong influence to wait for marriage until they return to Umofia.
When Okonkwo returns to his homeland, he finds the village dramatically changed, the church has grown, and now includes high-ranking, respected men who have abandoned the ways of clan members. More there is a court in which the English district commissioner judges legal cases. Arrogant heavy-handed court messengers recruited from the local men guard the prison and mistreat the prisoners. Prisoners are the men who have offended the white men and their laws.
The opening of part three of the novel introduces the white men’s devastation and undermines the traditional practices of justice, religion, and community. As Obierika says, Igbo society has fallen apart because the clan can no longer act like one. The white men have destroyed the things that once united the clan, but Okonkwo is slow to see what his friend sees.
Summary of Chapter 21:
Many clans appreciate some of the changes brought by the white men—notably, the trading store and the money that’s not flowing to umofia. Mr. Brown, the white missionary, is a patient man who treads softly on his faith and becomes friendly with the clansmen, including the leader Hakuna. The two can peacefully, intellectually discuss religion.
Now the people have accepted the changes white men bring, like a hospital, school, and religion, and they appreciate it. But Okonkwo is increasingly out of touch with a new reality evident that he chases away Mr. Brown. Okonkwo believes that he came home at the wrong time because his sons can’t enter the ranks of Egbo culture. Nwoye has adapted to the new society and is thriving.
Summary of Chapter 22:
Mr. Brown leaves the village and is succeeded by a very different Mr. Smith. He is a strict man and sees things as black and white. Black is evil for him; Smith only cared that those who convert are strict adherence to the faith. This creates a great conflict between church and clan members. Smith commits a terrible crime when he unmasks an Igbo leader in public.
Umofia is thrown into confusion; the leader destroys their compound. Smith and his followers hide and then meet the crowd outside the church. The villagers will not harm Smith out of respect for Mr. Brown but destroy his shrine. Smith orders the people in the group to leave, but they refuse and smash the church. Mr. Smith starts with a brimstone religion to make his intentions plain. The converts will be obedient and repudiate all ties to the Old Religion.
Smith saw the globe as a battleground, foreshadowing future conflicts. The disciple of Enoch Smith is prepared to battle. He believes, like Okonkwo, that confrontation is the only way to address a situation. The interpreter does not grasp the mob spokesman’s dialect and cannot transmit his message to Smith.
Furthermore, the interpreter also changes the meaning of Smith’s reply. Thus neither Smith nor the group from Umofia can effectively communicate their messages. The language here blocks coexistence making violent conflict inevitable.
Summary of Chapter 23:
Okonkwo feels happy for the first time in many years. He is rejuvenated and feels the clan had reclaimed its old ways when a warrior was a warrior. He has convinced the men in Umofia to armed themselves so they will be prepared. Three days later, Okonkwo and five other people are summoned by messengers to the district commissioner’s office. They go because an Umofia man won’t turn down a phone call. They bring machetes, but not guns, which they believe would be impolite.
A member of Umofia’s delegation began to explain why the church was destroyed, and the district commissioner asked him to stop so he could bring his men to hear the grievances. Shortly after the commissioner’s men enter the room, though, there is a brief scuffle too brief for a machete to be drawn. The men of the commissioner handcuff Okonkwo and the others. The clansmen are lectured about their poor treatment of people, and a fine is placed upon them.
The court messengers, in turn, are to tells to treat the prisoners with respect, but instead, they forcibly shave the prisoner’s heads, beat them and them, and withhold food and water from them. Finally, Okonkwo felt chokes with hate; the court messengers go to Umofia and inform the villagers.
The men of Umofia gathered and decided to pay the fine to appease the white men. Okonkwo thrives on action and the authority, and power. It has earned him. He is content after the clan destroys the church, and the fact that the family listens to him with respect leads him to think the past had returned when men took action and were respected for it. The happiness that opens the chapter soon turns. The meeting with the officer commissioner offers a contrast to the war council in chapter two. The rules have changed; white men now do not consider the Egbo people equal, and Okonkwo and others are not prepared for this.
Summary of Chapter 24:
Okonkwo and others are set free when their hefty fine is paid. The six released men don’t speak to each other. When they return to the village, several clan members do not greet them and instead move out of their path. Okonkwo’s male relatives and friends come to his Hut, but the whip marks on his back are noticed. Nobody talks to him except Obierika. With Iron Gong, the village crier announces a meeting for the next day. Okonkwo can’t sleep, the bitterness in his heart now mixed with a kind of childlike excitement. If Umofia fights, he will join and, if not, swears to avenge himself. People entered the meeting from every corner of nine villages, and it warmed Okonkwo’s heart to see such a gathering of solidarity. But he is furious at the thought that anyone might speak against going to war.
One of the six released prisoners speaks to the crowd; he tells them that they all know their lives are in terrible danger. Their gods are weeping because some clan members have dared to join the clan and join the British. He says that they need to fight even though the war will mean they must shed clansmen’s blood. Their forefathers never dreamed of brothers fighting brothers, but this is what must be done to come back the white men.
Suddenly the meeting is interrupted by the court messenger sent to disperse the crowd; Okonkwo wields his machete and beheads the messenger in charge of the group. But no one followed his lead, and villagers left the rest of the messengers to getaway. Then, finally, Okonkwo realized that there would be no war. Okonkwo returned to the village’s tent; he was surrounded by people but had no interaction.
His whipped back makes an impression, perhaps they suspect that Okonkwo has lost his aggressive masculinity, but the end of the chapter suggests that they fear more violence. The villagers have realized that they cannot win a war against the white men. Okonkwo has separated himself from everyone, even the clan, after meeting and joining them only if they stand against the British.
Okonkwo derives from his fear of being weak like his Father, but under the new system of British rule, his final act threatens to bring greater violence against the clan.He is a tragic figure caught between traditional Igbo culture and changes brought by European colonialism.
Summary of Chapter 25:
The district commissioner asks for Okonkwo to Obierika, but he tells him that he doesn’t know where he is. Then, he threatens the men telling them he will arrest them if they don’t produce Okonkwo. Obierika agrees to tell them about him, but he asks for their help that confuses the district commissioner. He leads them to a tree where Okonkwo has hanged himself, and he asks to take the body down. As he commits suicide, his body is evil, and he can’t touch it; only strangers can do that everything that Okonkwo has done for his family, village, and friends has fallen apart, and nobody touches him in the end.