Student-Led Discussion Preparation Questions

Student-led Discussion Prep Questions:


1. Question: Compare and contrast Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith. What do these characters represent? Why do their names represent, or how are they a reflection of the men to whom they belong?

Answer: Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith are two very different people who both have the same job, but at different times. Mr. Brown was a tolerant and forgiving man who was a Christian missionary. He was tolerant, and was respected by many people, but after Mr. Brown fell sick, Mr. Smith came in and he was almost the exact opposite of Mr. Brown. Mr. Smith was an intolerant, cruel and mean person.

The thing I noticed about their names was that Mr. Brown’s name had brown, which could refer to the skin tone of the Africans, and I am not sure how that would have linked into the moral of the story, but it guess it means that the Africans were tolerant and kind, and Smith is a common English name, which is supposed to show that the English/British were intolerant and cruel. I am not sure if that is what Acebe intended, but that is my imterpretation.

Supporting Quotation:

Whenever Mr. Brown went to that village he spent long hours with Akunna in his obi talking through an interpreter about religion. Either of them succeeded in converting the other but they learned more about their different beliefs.” (Chapter 21)

This quote shows that Mr. Brown was understanding and was tolerant of the Igbo culture.



2. Question: The missionaries in the novel play an important part.  What is it that they are trying to do?  Are they a force for good, or evil?  Do they want to help the Igbo, or hurt them?  What do their actions end up doing?

Answer: My interpretation is that the missionaries both have different motives, and although their goal may be to further develop the Igbo people, they both act differently. Mr. Brown for example, seems to want to help the Igbo people be educated and healthy, while Mr. Smith simply wants to convert them all to Christianity.

Supporting Quotation: Mr. Smith said to his interpreter: “Tell them to go away from here. This is the house of God and I will not live to see it desecrated.”

In this quote we can see the Igbo people asking to burn down the church, but Mr. Smith harshly telling them that he will not allow that.

3. Question: The missionaries and Christians set up schools for the people of Umuofia to attend.  What were the good parts and bad parts about attending one of those schools.  Would you want to attend?

Answer: I think that having the schools is good because ideas could be spread quicker and children can learn. But some bad parts could be that some of their culture is washed away while they learn new things and also that they are brainwashed by the beliefs of their teacher.

Supporting Quotation: “In this way Mr. Brown learned a good deal about the religion of the clan and he came to the conclusion that a frontal attack on it would not succeed. And so he built a school and a little hospital in Umuofia.”


4. Question: Who is the District Commissioner? Why is he sent by the English, and what does he do? What do you think he represents in this novel?

Answer: The district commissioner is the one who is in charge of the area and the English send them in to convert people to Christianity and control the area as well as build things like trade routes and schools.

Supporting Quotation: “”what are they planning to do?” he asked. No one knew, because such a thing never happened before. Mr. Smith would have sent for the district Commissioner and his court messengers, but they had gone on tour the previous day.


5. Question: Why does Okonkwo kill the court messenger?  What is he trying to accomplish?  Is he successful in his final goal?  How are his actions a representation of the larger struggle of native people against imperialism?

Answer: Okonkwo cuts him down with his machete. He is trying to spark a war between the Christians and his people. Okonkwo misses his warlike people and he is trying to get them back to the way it used to be. When no one agrees with him and his actions have almost no effect, Okonkwo kills himself. This shows that the natives have no voice against the Imperialists.

Supporting Quotation: ““You are not satisfied with your crime, but you must kill the white man on top of it.” He carried a strong stick, and he hit each man a few blows on the head and back. Okonkwo was choked with hate.”

  1.  Question: What are the consequences of the murder Okonkwo commits?

Answer: The men are all beaten with a stick and they all hate him. They are all angry with him.

Supporting Quotation: ““You are not satisfied with your crime, but you must kill the white man on top of it.” He carried a strong stick, and he hit each man a few blows on the head and back. Okonkwo was choked with hate.”

8. Question: How do you interpret Okonkwo’s suicide? Why did he do it?  Does this represent anything larger in terms of European imperialism?

Answer: The way I interpret Okonkwo’s suicide is that he killed himself because he did not want to see his people give in. Okonkwo would probably see his father in all of his people and he did not like it. It was exactly what he was trying to avoid. Okonkwo had a series of bad events happen to him which all led up to this, and all of it at once took away his will to live. It shows how powerless the Igbo people were in the decision of what would happen to them.

Supporting Quotation: “”that man was one of the greatest in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself and now he will be bured like a dog….” He could no say any more. His voice trembled and choked his words.”



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