Prakruti B. Bhatt
Themes in Things
Roll: No. 12
Born November 16,
Died March 21, 2013
• Respect and Reputation
• Traditions and Customs
• Man and the Natural World
•Language and Communication
• Traditional Igbo life presented in this novel revolves around
structured gender roles.
• The dominant role for women is: first, to make a pure bride
for an honorable man, second, to be a submissive wife, and
third, to bear many children
• The protagonist in the novel is extremely concerned with
being hyper-masculine and devalues everything feminine,
leaving him rather unbalanced.
• Idea of balance between masculine and feminine forces –
body and mind/soul, emotionality and rationality, mother and
father. If one is in imbalance, it makes the whole system
• For the Igbo, there are a
few key ideas that form the
basis of an ideal family:
mutual respect for each
other, a reverence for all past
fathers, and unity.
Respect and Reputation
• Reputation is based on merit – men gain reputation
through bravery in battle, skill at wrestling, and hard
work as seen through the size of their yam harvest.
• Okonkwo, the novel’s protagonist, is extremely
concerned with reputation because he grew up with a
father who was shameful and lazy. Okonkwo
overcompensates by working tirelessly on his farm
and taking every opportunity available to prove his
bravery and strength.
• Many of the characters suffer from fear of some sort.
• Okonkwo fears becoming like his lazy, shameful
father, Ekwefi fears losing her daughter, and Nwoye
fears his father’s wrath.
• fear in this novel leads characters to behave in
negative ways that can bring the wrath of the gods,
guilt, and the community disapproval upon them.
• The Igbo gods are mostly manifestations
of nature and its elements, which makes
sense because they are an agricultural
society that depends on the regularity of
seasons and natural phenomena to
• They worship the goddess of the earth
and are always careful to avoid
committing sins against her for fear of
vengeance that might wipe out an entire
generation. The Igbo ancestors also take
on a divine nature to some extent.
• In Things Fall Apart, sin is defined as a crime against
the gods. Such transgressions occur when a member
of society violates the most intimate bonds of family,
especially with regards to one’s children or somehow
insults an ancestral spirit. These sins call for quick
and severe punishment, often including animal
sacrifices, a heavy fine, various symbolic gestures of
atonement, exile from one’s fatherland, or even death
Traditions and Customs
•Respect and knowledge of one’s role
in society is very important in
determining such customs and
Traditions. Another institution that
rituals address and honor is the family
Man and the Natural World
• As an agricultural society, the survival of the
Umuofia depends on the earth and its predictable
cycle of seasons.
• The Igbo also reap the earth’s wealth in rather
economical and effective ways – tapping trees for
palm-wine, capitalizing off of locust plagues, and
making medicine with herbs. Human beings are
implicitly viewed as the children of the earth, though
the conduct of the white men throws doubt on that
Language and Communication
• Speech is highly stylized in Igbo culture, with
specific rules on how to addresses a neighbor, a
superior, an ancestral spirits, and the gods.
• While dialogue is usually direct in its meaning,
speakers often adorn conversations with proverbs or
references to folktales, which play a profound role in
shaping Igbo beliefs.