Things Fall Apart Analysis
Write an analysis paper on the novel Things Fall Apart on a subject that truly interests you.
I suggest that you don't simply create an outline in advance, but that you let the process of writing, searching in texts, and research go hand-in-hand so that writing itself becomes a mode of critical inquiry. Thus it makes sense to begin with a question rather than a thesis statement, to write about ideas and texts, expand, develop, explore, and then to focus in, rearrange, and rewrite to organize and clarify.
You could examine a theme, an aspect of Ibo culture, religion, language, the development of colonial rule, breakdown of traditional society, the use of literary techniques, the form of the novel, relationships between characters, etc. You are better off focusing in closely on something "small" and interesting to you, rather than trying to take on a major theme of the whole novel.
Don't just pick something easy! Try to learn something really interesting about this famous book. You are better off not quite fully succeeding, than simply writing something that doesn't really challenge your thinking.
Your paper should demonstrate careful thinking about the novel. It should have careful focus, utilize quotations from the text to make your argument, show a clear development of ideas, and be carefully written and edited. I imagine that the papers will be at least five pages long, typed, double-spaced.
To get a "B" on the paper, you need to do all the above and demonstrate that you have read and can correctly and meaningfully quote from an internet resource on the the novel. (See below.)
To get an "A" on the paper you will need to meet the requirements for a "B" and demonstrate that you have read and can quote and draw from a scholarly academic article on the novel. Our library is an excellent resource, use the "MLA" bibliography. Some scholarly articles on Things Fall Apart are available on line.
There are many resources on the internet to help you understand Things Fall Apart: Wikipedia, Study Guide, Postcolonial Dialogues. These may have good information and can be quoted in your paper.
Yes, there are also student papers on Things Fall Apart available on line. These are papers some students try to turn in as their own work. Some of these papers do have interesting ideas and are easier to read than real scholarship. Here are some of the places you can find them; there are many more:
Look at student essays and papers, but remember that the point is for you to do your own work. If you read other people's work you MUST properly cite it and list it in your bibliography -- otherwise you are committing plagiarism. Just so you know, I am good at detecting plagiarism, finding the source, and insuring that students who plagiarize learn their lesson.
One more resource; here is a sample paper by Shannon Corcoran from this African Literature course in Spring 2014.
Below you will find three outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “Things Fall Apart” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints abouthow to use PaperStarter.comin the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Tragic Hero and “Things Fall Apart” as a Tragedy
“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe follows the classic model of a tragedy and can be compared to several works, particularly works from antiquity such as Oedipus the King and stories from Shakespeare such as Macbeth and Hamlet. One of the reasons why this is a tragedy and can be related to so many other tragic works is because the main character, Okonkwo, fits the classic example of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is, by short definition, someone who falls because of a tragic flaw and not necessarily because he is a “bad” or evil person. For this essay, do a character analysis of Okonkwo and map the ways he is a tragic character. For help with this essay, you might want to look back to other works or find ways Okonkwo has good intentions but because of his flaws (pride, anger, etc) cannot see a positive resolution to his troubles. For more assistance with this topic, check out this article on the tragic nature of Okonkwo compared to another tragic character from literature, Oedipus.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Importance of Customs and Traditions in “Things Fall Apart”
Throughout “Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the role of customs and traditions is incredibly important and decides the fate of men, women, and children. Some of the customs practiced in this culture would certainly be frowned upon in the West yet are perfectly acceptable. For instance, the idea that a child should be murdered or that the spirits of the dead must be appeased can have grave consequences for some characters. For this essay, examine the role of customs and traditions in “Things Fall Apart” and consider why these might be important to this culture (for instance, think about how they all have to do with the natural world and natural forces—appropriate since they live in the open and are prone to threats). Furthermore, this essay might also want to integrate how these customs changed after the whites and colonialism came. For an essay that changes this theme slightly, you might also want to consider the question of whether the customs and traditions of Igbo society do more harm than good. If you follow this route for an essay, remember not to be ethnocentric and not make value judgments on their beliefs, instead just examine if such customs cause more problems than they solve using the text (not fully opinions) as your support.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role of the Supernatural in “Things Fall Apart”
While themes stemming from the influence of the supernatural can be connected to the above essay topic for “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, an essay could quite easily be developed along the lines of the importance of the supernatural. A good thesis statement for this essay would state that matters related to the supernatural world drive the action of the plot throughout “Things Fall Apart.” This is not just because of the practices and beliefs of the Igbo society, but also those that the white man brings with him. Throughout “Things Fall Apart” there is a tension between what the supernatural world means and the differences in viewpoints on this matter are the prime source of conflict outside of issues stemming from Okonkwo's character flaws. For this essay, you will want to find examples of differences in opinion on supernatural matters and how this tears the community apart. For this essay, don't just concentrate on sections after the arrival of the white missionaries, look at hints of this theme before that, such as differences in opinion on tribal beliefs and customs. Also consider the differences between even like-minded men such as Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith.
Other ideas for thesis statements on “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe can be gleaned by reading the following openly accessible articles : Women, Colonization & Cultural Change in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe • History, Narrative and Culture in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe • Comparison of Tragic Characters in Things Fall Apart and Oedipus the King •