Things Fall Apart: Reading Journal

Things Fall Apart Reading Journal

In complete sentences, please fill out all of the sections in this reading journal for Things Fall Apart. You may complete this by hand, or you may complete it digitally.

Chapter 1

Here’s what happened today:
it tells us about how Okonkwo defeated the cat, and also tells us about Unoka, and how he met Okonye. Okonye asks Unoka for the 200 he owed him. Unoka laughes at him. Onkonkwo is ashamed of him. Okonkwo is a wealthy farmer, and is also the best wrestler. He has three wives.

I had difficulty understanding:
I was confused a little bit at the beginning when talking about The cat, because I was not sure what was being mentioned, but it all cleared up later.

Give a physical description as well as a description of Okonkwo’s personality. What does he look like and what kind of person is he?
Onkonkwo has a severe face, a big nose, bushy eyebrows. He seems to have short temper, and not to be very tolerable. He also seems like he is not very calm, but more stiff.

Chapter 2

Here’s what happened today:
they are all called to the market-place for an emergency. There is a clan war, Okonkwo looked after the boy, Ikemefuna, who is captured from the opposing clan. Nwoye, who was okonkwo’s first son was lazy, so he nagges and beats him to make sure he does not become like Unoke.

I had difficulty understanding:
At the last part, who was the stranger, and who was the girl? I did not understand who Umuofia is.

Are you interested in the storyline so far? If so, what makes it interesting? If not, tell what could be changed to make it more interesting.
I don’t think is it very interesting because I cannot really tell what is going on. I think that if it was more clear about what was going on, it would be easy. I did not notice any rising action other than Ikemefuna arriving.

Chapter 3

Here’s what happened today:
Unoka goes to oracle, tells her about his efforts, but she tells him that he is weak, and that that is the reason that his crops are bad. Unoka had a bad chi. Unoka was not buried, and Okonkwo did not inherit anything.
Nwakibie is best in clan, has best titles. Okonkwo worked for him. It tells about when they drank palm oil together. Nwakibie trusts Okonkwo with his Yams. When Okonkwo plants some Yams, the sun blazes and there is little rain, and they die. Later, he planted more, but then the rain continues, pouring violently and ruining all of his planted yams.

I had difficulty understanding:
How many crops he planted during each of the bad times for farmers. It was not clear to me how many of the Yams he had planted. This confused me because after the Yams died from the sun, I thought he had none left.

How does Okonkwo feel about Unoka? Why?
I think Okonkwo feels like his father is useless, and is weak. It seems like Okonkwo does not want to support his father, but has to in order to support his mother and the rest of his family.
“in Okonkwo’s case was that he had to support his mother and two sisters from his meager harvest. And supporting his mother also meant supporting his father.”

Chapter 4

Here’s what happened today:
Old man talks about Okonkwo and how he rose so quickly from poverty. Okonkwo was chosen to carry the message of war, that if the enemy clan did not want to start a war, they were to give up a virgin and a young man. The young man is Ikemefuna. Ikemefuna overcomes his fears, and becomes friends with Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye.
Okonkwo becomes fond of Ikemefuna, but does not show it.
Okonkwo breaks week of peace because his wife comes home late, and she lied. Okonkwo beat her, because he forgot that it was the week of peace. Okonkwo is punished, and has to pay.
Okonkwo wants his son to be a great man, and wants to stomp out all laziness in his family.
Ikemefuna becomes to feel like a member of the family, as his moments of depression stop becoming as frequent.

I had difficulty understanding:
Nothing in this chapter really confused me, and I understood what was going on.

How does Okonkwo break the Week of Peace?
He beats his wife, because she lied to him and she was not on time to cook the dinner.

Chapter 5

Here’s what happened today:
The feast of the new yam is approaching, everyone is excited but Okonkwo is not as excited as the others, because he thinks that the feasts are a waste of time. Okonkwo is angry, so he finds an excuse to be angry and he beats his wife and tries to shoot her, then has a feast with his in-laws. One of the daughters (Obiageli) breaks her pot.

I had difficulty understanding:
I understood everything in this chapter.

Why doesn’t Okonkwo like the Feast of Ani? What does this say about his character?
He does not like to wait for the feast, or getting over it afterwards, and he became stressed during these times. It tells us that he is not very festive, and would rather continue on with normal life rather than celebrate.

What does Okonkwo do with his gun?
He shoots one of his wives, because she said that his gun did not shoot, which made Okonkwo angry.

Chapter 6

Here’s what happened today:
The wrestling begins, drummers play and everyone is exited for the wrestling match. Boys within the ages 15-16 wrestle. Maduka, who is Okonkwo’s friend’s son wins a match. Ekwefi talks with Chielo, who is the oracle.

I had difficulty understanding:
At first, I had a little bit of trouble understanding the conversation between Ekwefi and Chielo.

Why does Achebe dedicate a whole chapter to a wrestling match?
Achebe most likely dedicates an entire chapter to a wrestling match to show how important it is to Igbo culture, and also to write the entire match in detail.

Chapter 7

Here’s what happened today:
Ikemefuna is with the family for three years, and Nwoye has a new attitude, which is more masculine which is what Okonkwo wants. Ogbuefi Ezeudu comes to Okonkwo, and tells him that the oracle said that Ikemefuna must be killed, but tells him not to take part in it because he is Ikemefuna’s “father”. Nwoye is upset because Okonkwo says that Ikemefuna must return to his village.
Ikemefuna is attacked by a man with a machete. Okonkwo helps kill Ikemefuna when he calls for help.

I had difficulty understanding:

Why doesn’t Nwoye like his father’s stories?
Because they were too violent, and he preferred the softer stories. He tries to convince himself that the softer stories are for women, and pretends to prefer his father’s stories.

What does Ezeudu warn Okonkwo not to do? Why?
Ezeudu warned Okonkwo not to kill Ikemefuna, because Ikemefuna calls him father, and the Igbos must have had some morals about killing a son.

Why does Okonkwo kill Ikemefuna?
Because he does not want to look weak in front of the others, and wanted to end it quickly without looking weak.

Chapter 8

Here’s what happened today:
Okonkwo become depressed and has trouble eating or sleeping. Ezinma brings him his food and tells him that he must finish everything. Okonkwo wishes that Ezinma was a boy, because he likes her mindset and attitude. Okonkwo tells himself that he has become a woman because of Ikemefuna’s death, and Okonkwo sets off to meet his friend. Okonkwo meets his friend Obierika and congradulates his son Maduka for winning the wrestling match. They talk and they begin to argue about whether it was right for Okonkwo to kill Ikemefuna. Then Ofoedu comes in, and tells them the news that the oldest man died, and that it was strange that his first wife died shortly after. Okonkwo then questions the man’s strength because of how well he treated his wife. Okonkwo then leaves, and returns later.
When he returns, he sits with Obierka, as Obierka bargains his daughter’s bride price. After, they continue talking, and Obierka tells about how he heard of men with skin as white as chalk.

I had difficulty understanding:
I had some difficulty understanding who Obierka was bargaining with, and also who his daughter was, It was a little bit confusing.

How does Obierika feel about Okonkwo’s killing of Ikemefuna?
Obierka thinks that Okonkwo should not have involved himself, and that he should have stayed home. This is because it is a part of Igbo culture that a father does not kill his son.

Chapter 9

Here’s what happened today:
Ekwefi wakes up Okonkwo and tells him that Ezinma is dying. Ekwefi is very worried, and has a equal relationship with her daughter. Okonkwo decides that it is only a fever, and sets off to get medicine. Then it talks about how Ekwefi had nine other daughters before Ezinma, and how they all died at a young age. During these times, Okonkwo consulted a medicine man, and the medicine man said that an ogbanje was haunting them.

I had difficulty understanding:
It was a little bit confusing to me when they were talking about what an obanje was, but I managed to figure it out after reading it again.

Explain the ogbanje. Is Ezinma one? Why or why not?
The oganbje is a child who dies very early, and according to the Igbo people, they continue to return to the womb, only to die again and make the parents disappointed. I don’t think Ezinma is a ogbanje because she survived all the illnesses as an infant.

Chapter 10

Here’s what happened today:
The village has a ceremonial gathering for what we call a trial. The egwugwu which are the clan’s anchestor’s spirits come out of a hidden house, and no woman are allowed to step inside the house. The egwugwu have to help a husband and wife. The husband says that the brothers of his wife beat him and took away the wife and children without returning the bride-price, while the brothers say that the husband beat the wife mercilessly, and they say that he should beg her to come back, and if she says yes, they will cut off his genitals if he beats her again.

I had difficulty understanding:
I understood everything in this chapter.

Compare and contrast the legal system of Umuofia to the legal system of the country you are from, or a country you are very familiar with.
The legal system seems a little bit unfair, because the spirits believe whoever they want to without much proof, but it seems to work, and everyone seems to pitch their opinions in during the trial. This happens similarly in trials today, except now we have a person defending the doer of the crime as well as the victim of the crime, and more evidence is required.

Chapter 11

Here’s what happened today:
Ekwefi tells a story to Ezinma. The story is about a tortoise and birds. The birds are going to have a feast in the sky, and the tortoise tells asks them if they can give him feathers to make wings so that he can attend the feast as well. He also convinces the birds to give new names for the feast, and says that his name will be ‘All of you’. Later, when he asks the birds who the feast is for, they say all of you, and the tortoise eats all of the best food, leaving only scraps for the birds. The birds then take away his wings, and he tells a parrot to send a message to his wife. The message would be to put soft things around so that he could jump down, but the parrot tells the wife to put hard things instead, and when the tortoise jumps down, he breaks his shell. This story is supposed to show why the shell of a tortoise is not smooth.

Then Chielo the priestess tells Ekwefi that the oracle of the hills and caves (Agbala) wants to see Ezinma. Okonkwo try to convince her that it should be done tomorrow, but Agbala tells them that they should not defy a god’s will. Chielo takes Ezinma and tells them not to follow. Then Ekwefi follows them through the darkness, and at the cave, Okonkwo meets her there. She swears that if she hears Ezinma cry or scream, she will run inside.

I had difficulty understanding:

What is the purpose of the story of the Tortoise?
The purpose is to show why the shell of a tortoise is the way it is, and it also carries a moral message, the message being what goes around comes around. The story tells the listeners that if they do something bad, something bad will happen to them.

Chapter 12

Here’s what happened today:
At dawn, Chielo brought Ezinma back to Ezwefi’s hut. Okonkwo was worried the night before even though he did not show it. Okonkwo found out that Chielo had taken her around the 9 villages, he had made four trips to the oracle’s shrine by the morning.

Okonkwo and his family prepare for Obierika’s daughter’s uri. The villages donate food to the festival and Obierka buys a huge goat to give as a present to his future in-laws. In the end, the feast goes well.

I had difficulty understanding:

Compare or contrast the concept of the bride price to a tradition you follow in your home country.
Bride price seems like the family are taking advantage of the daughter by receiving a price for letting her marry, but back then it was a tradition and was normal. Nowadays, people can marry anyone. Back then, women also had less rights and men were thought to be more important, which is probably why families were payed to have their daughter marry a man. These days however, women (in most countries) have the same rights as men, and are free to marry whoever they want.

Chapter 13

Here’s what happened today:
Ezeudu’s death is announced to the surrounding villages. They did this using a musical instrument which was called an ekwe. The last time Okonkwo saw Ezeudu, was when he told him not to involve himself with Ikemefuna’s death. Ezeudu has a large funeral because he was a great warrior who took three of the clan’s four titles. Okonkwo’s gun accidentaly fires, and kills Ezeudu’s son.
Since killing someone is against the law, Okonkwo must take his family into exile for seven years. He gathers his most valuable stuff and takes his family to his mother’s natal village, Mbanta. They burn Okonkwo’s buildings and kill his animals, in order to cleanse the village of his sin. Obierka asks why a man must suffer for an accidental killing.

I had difficulty understanding:

What happens at Ezeudu’s funeral? What action must Okonkwo take as a result?
At Ezeudu’s funeral. The men beat drums and fire their guns. Okonkwo accidentaly shoots, and it hits Ezuedu’s sixteen year old son. As a result, he has to leave the village for seven years.

Chapter 14

Here’s what happened today:
Okonkwo’s uncle (Uchendu) and his other family who live in Mbanta, treat Okonkwo well. They help him build a new compound of huts and lend him yam seeds so that he can start a farm. The rain signals that the farming season is beginning. Okonkwo works hard on his new farm. Okonkwo is disapointed because he wanted to become one of the lords of the clan, but now he cannot become one since he commited these crimes.
Uchendu sees that Okonkwo is disappointed, but waits until after his son’s wedding to talk to him. The next day, Unchendu gathers the family and tells them of his story, and tells Okonkwo that many have been worse off than he is. Uchendu lost five wives and twenty two children, but he is fine now.

I had difficulty understanding:

How does Okonkwo feel about being in Mbanta? What does his mother’s clansman say in response? Why?
Okonkwo would rather be in Umuofia, because he had built up his home there, and he felt weak since he had to return to his family. He worked hard on his farm, but was not as enthusiastic as the first time, because he also wanted to be one of the lords of the clan, but he no longer can.

Chapter 15

Here’s what happened today:
it is now the second year of Okonkwo’s exile. Obierka brings bags of cowries to Okonkwo along with some bad news. Apparently, a village names Abame has been destroyed. A white man on an ‘iron horse’ (Bicycle) had arrived in Abame during the planting season. The people from Abame asked the oracle what to do and the oracle said that the white man would be followed by others, which would lead to the destruction of Abame. The villages kill the white man, and tie his bicycle to a tree to stop it from escaping. Later, other white men came and discovered the bicycle, and found out what happened, they then attacked the village a few weeks later. Uchendu thinks that it was foolish of them to kill a man who said nothing. Okonkwo agrees, but he thinks they should have been prepared.

The reason that Obierka visited and brought the cowries is because Obierika sold some of Okonkwo’s yams and also some of his seed yams. He will continue to bring him money from the yams.

I had difficulty understanding:

What is an iron horse?
It is actually a bicycle, but since the Igbo people had never seen anything like it before, they thought of it as a horse since he was riding on it.

What has happened to Abame?
It has been destroyed by the white men. Most people living there died and the village is destroyed.

Chapter 16

Here’s what happened today:
Three years after Okonkwo’s exile, Obierika returns to Mbanta. He visits Okonkwo because he saw Nwoye with some Christians who arrived. Most of the people who converted to christianity were efulefu, which meant men who are ignored by the clan. Okonkwo will not talk about Nwoye, but Nwoye’s mother tells the story.
A white man leads a group of six to talk to a village about christianity. They tell them that they are all brothers and sons of god, and tells them that they are worshipping false gods. They tell them that the holy trinity is the one true god, but the villagers don’t understand how god can have a son and not a wife. Okonkwo thinks that the newcomers are insane, but Nwoye thinks otherwise.

I had difficulty understanding:

What does Nwoye find appealing about Christianity?
It answers his questions about death, such as life after death.

Chapter 17

Here’s what happened today:
The christians ask for a piece of land where they can build a church. The village leaders tell them that they can have a place in the Evil Forest, because they don’t think that they will take it. Surprisingly, the missionaries take the land, the elders think that the evil spirits will kill them, but after 28 days, they still haven’t died. The church creates more converts.
Okonkwo’s cousin sees Nwoye among the Christians and tells Okonkwo. When Nwoye returns, Okonkwo strangles him, and asks him where he has been. Uchendu tells him to let go of Nwoye. Nwoye leaves and goes to a school in Umofia to learn reading and writing. Okonkwo thinks about what ever could he have done to parent such a weak son.

I had difficulty understanding:

What happens between Nwoye and Okonkwo? Why?
Okonkwo strangles Nwoye, because Okonkwo’s cousin told him that he spotted Nwoye among the Christians.

Chapter 18

Here’s what happened today:
the church gets many new converts from the efulefu (titless, ignored people). Serval osu (also known as outcasts) also come to church. Many converts avoid them, but keep their faith to christianity. Okonkwo wants to remove the christians from the area using force, but elders decide to ostracize them. Okonkwo thinks that it is a “womanly” clan. An outcast who claimed to kill a sacred royal python dies of an illness, making the villagers’ trust in their gods stronger.

I had difficulty understanding:

Who does Mr. Kiaga allow to be a part of the church? How do the converts react?
Mr.Kiaga lets the outcasts be a part of the church, but at first the other christians stay away from the outcasts. However, Mr.Kiaga tells them that the outcasts will not die if they cut their hair etc., which convinces followers of the religion not to ditch their new faith.

What is the significance of Okoli’s death?
Since Okoli boasted of killing the sacred snake, it tells the villagers that their god is still there, even though it could have been a coincidence.

Chapter 19

Here’s what happened today:
Okonkwo’s seven years of exile are coming to an end. Before he goes back to Umuofia, he hosts a large feast for his family. He is grateful about all they have done for him, but secretly wishes he could have increased his status in his own clan.

I had difficulty understanding:

Why does Okonkwo call a feast?
Because he respects his family and is grateful for the help they gave him when he first arrived.

Chapter 20

Here’s what happened today:
Okonkwo wants to build his compound again, only this time, it was to be much larger. He also wants two more wives and to get titles for his sons. He got over Nwoye, but still is upset that Ezinma is a girl. He asked her to wait until they move back to Umuofia for her to marry.
Umuofia is a different place than it was seven years ago, the church has grown in strength and the christians make people follow their judicial system and laws. They are arrogant, harsh and ignorant. Okonkwo doesn’t understand why his clan didn’t drive them out, but Obierika explains that it is too late now, since there are so many Christians now.

I had difficulty understanding:

What does Okonkwo hope for his daughters?
That they attract the interest of many men, and that they are both beautiful and marriageable. He wanted them to be very beatiful so that Okonkwo’s sons-in-law would be of high authority, and the others would not approach.

Chapter 21

Here’s what happened today:
many people did not mind the white men’s influence on Umoufia, this was because they set up trading posts, which helped money make its way to the village.
Mr. Brown is one of the white missionaries. He and Akunna (one of the clan’s leaders) meet to exchange religious ideas. They speak to each other and argue about religion. Neither of them convert to the other religion, but they both leave knowing more about the other religion.
Mr.Brown builds a hospital and a school, and makes some arguments about how the people should send their children to school, to learn how to read and write because when other white people come who know how to read and write they will be superior.
Mr.Brown tells Okonkwo that Nwoye is in a training college, and Okonkwo threatens him. Then Mr. Brown becomes sick.
Okonkwo’s two daughters attract attention, but he is disapointed that his clan doesn’t really care that he returned.

I had difficulty understanding:

Describe Mr. Brown. How is he characterized: as a demanding man or a peaceful man? Why?
Mr.Brown seems like a peaceful man because of the way he convinces everyone instead of demanding that they obey him.

For what does Okonkwo mourn? Why?
He mourns because of all the changes his clan went through. Okonkwo’s beleifs are about manliness and war, but the clan has changed, and now his popularity has gone down and he has to wait two years to initiate his sons.

Chapter 22

Here’s what happened today:
Reverend James Smith, a strict man, replaces Mr.Brown. He wants everyone to stictly obey him and doesn’t agree with Mr.Brown’s tolerance and other policies. Enoch dares to unmask an egwugwu during the annual ceremony to honor the earth. The next day, the egwugwu burn Enoch’s compound to ashes. They then gather around the front of the church to talk to Reverend Smith and the other christians. They tell the christians that they wish to destroy the church to cleanse the village of Enoch’s terrible sin. Smith forbids them to touch the church, but his interpreter alters Smith’s statement, because he is afraid that what Smith says is too harsh. The interpreter says that Smith demands that they let him deal with it, but the egwugwu ignore them and burn down the church.

I had difficulty understanding:

Compare and contrast Mr. Brown and Reverand Smith.
Mr.Brown was tolerant and inclusive, and brought people into christianity using persuasion and speech, while Reverand Smith is very intolerant, strict and uses threats. When Mr.Brown was around, he could understand Igbo tradition and did not cause too many problems, while Smith, being intolerant and ignorant, ignored Igbo tradition which resulted in the church being burnt down.

What do the egwugwu do? Why?
The egwugwu burns down both Enoch’s home compound, as well as the church. This is because it is a great sin to unmask an egwugwu and is also disrespectful.

Chapter 23

Here’s what happened today:
The villagers are now on guard, they are arming themselves with guns and machetes. Then, the District Commissioner returns and requests that the leaders of Umuofia meet with him, they go but only bring machetes because they do not want to seem aggressive. The commissioner says that they should talk about the church’s burning as friends. As soon as they put down their machetes, they are handcuffed and thrown into jail for a few days. The messangers tell the people of Umuofia that they must bail their leaders with 250 bags of cowries or their leaders will be hung. The town calls an emergency village meeting, and they begin to gather the money needed.

I had difficulty understanding:

Why are the leaders of Umuofia arrested? What must be done to have them released?
The leaders are arrested because of what the egwugwu did to the church. For them to be released, the village must pay 250 cowries.

Chapter 24

Here’s what happened today:
The prisoners are released, and they return to the village, all looking so gloomy that the people are afraid to greet them. The village becomes more tense.
Ezinma takes Okonkwo some food. She and Obierika notice that there are whip marks on his back.
The village announces another meeting for the next morning. Okonkwo sleeps little that night over excitement and anticipation.
When they meet, the first speaker talks about the damage the men and the church have done to the clan. In the middle of the meeting, five court messengers come to the crown. Their leader commands them to end them the meeting. Okonkwo kills the messenger with his machete.

I had difficulty understanding:
What Okonkwo was anticipated was a little bit vague for me.

What does Okonkwo do at the town meeting?
He kills a messenger.

How do people react?
The people react in the way that Okonkwo had not anticipated. They allow the other messengers to escape and ask why Okonkwo killed the messenger.

Chapter 25

Here’s what happened today:
When the Commissioner comes to Okonkwo’s compound, he finds a group of men outside. He asks for Okonkwo but they tell him that he is not at home. He asks again, and Obierika repeats his answer. The commissioner gets angry and threatens them. Obierika agrees to lead him to Okonkwo as long as he don’t something in return. The commissioner does not understand the deal but follows anyway. Behind Okonkwo’s compound, there is a small bush. Okonkwo’a body is dangling from a tree where he hung himself.
Obierika explains about how suicide is a sin and he and his clanmates cannot touch the body. Obierika asks the commissioner to help, and then suddenly becomes angry, and balmes the commissioner for Okonkwo’s death.
The commissioner is in the middle of writing a book about Africa, and imagines that this would make an interesting paragraph or two.
I had difficulty understanding:

What does Okonkwo do at the end of the novel? Why?
Okonkwo hangs himself. I am not sure why, but I guess his fear of failure was so strong that after he killed the messenger and his clan mates did not support him, he just decided to end his own life as an escape.

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