Book Review

Culture in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts etc.

The word “culture” is derived from a French term, which in turn is derived from the Latin word “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture. It shares its etymology with a number of other words related to actively fostering growth.


According to Wikipedia, culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs,  arts, laws, customs capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups.

Humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization which is shown by the diversity of cultures across societies.

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart is the debut novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe first published in 1958. It depicts pre-colonial life in the south-eastern part of Nigeria and the arrival of the European colonizers in the 19th Century. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. Apart from talking about the pre-colonial life of Africans, things fall apart , also showcases the culture inept in Africa.


Achebe creates a portrait of African culture in Things Fall Apart, in order to inform the outside world that African culture contains much value. Obviously, Achebe aims at conveying to his people and the world that Africans did not hear of culture from Europe and that their societies were not mindless after all but have a philosophy and culture of great depth, value, beauty, signification and dignity.

.Things Fall Apart

Achebe therefore depicts an Igbo society which has dignity and prominence in Things Fall Apart. In Things Fall Apart he represents the cultural roots of the Igbos in order to provide self-confidence, but at the same time he refers them to universal principles which vitiate their destructive potential for example, their beliefs in the power of ancestral gods, the sacrifice of young boys, the killing of twins and the oppression of women etc.

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