Things Fall Apart


Okonkwo: A violent, sometimes cruel man, but all the same our protagonist. He is violent and beats his three wives and eight children frequently. Because of his lazy father, he fears to fail or be thought weak. This fear even drives him to kill Ikemefuna, a boy they took in. Slowly his life deteriorates. He is exiled for seven years for an accident, but his return is dulled by the new presence of the white men, and the fact that his son Nwoye leaves to join them. The changes are unbearable, and lead him to commit suicide.

Unoka: Okonkwo's father - a gentle man, thought to be weak because he loved music, peace, and parties. He cannot farm well and is known for it, and he is lazy and does not provide for his family. The parties he throws are born of the money he borrows from his friends and neighbors using his great charm. Okonkwo hates him, and hates the thought of being like him.

Nwoye: This unhappy youth is Okonkwo's oldest son, and is encouraged to be more manly by his best friend Ikemefuna. However, he dislikes the violence in the code of manliness (as implied by his father and the villagers). When his father kills Ikemefuna, he rejects everything and runs to Christianity with his arms wide open. He is never heard from again - hopefully he found happiness.

Ikemefuna: When a woman from Okonkwo's village was killed, Ikemefuna and a virgin girl were given to the village as payment for the crime. He was taken in by Okonkwo's family, and becomes a part of it, addressing Okonkwo as "Father", even at his death, when Okonkwo helped kill him. He was killed because the Oracle decreed it must be done.

Ekwefi: Okonkwo's second wife, an embittered woman wholly dedicated to her only surviving child, her daughter Ezinma. She is actually a mother of ten, but her first nine died in infancy. She would challenge anyone, anything, even the gods, to protect Ezinma.

Ezinma: Ezinma, Ekwefi's only daughter and Okonkwo's favorite child, is somewhat spoiled. Believed to be a ogbanje (changeling), she is the tenth infant to be born to her mother. She was originally sickly, but luckily overcame it and became healthy and the village beauty to boot. Okonkwo often wishes she were a boy. She loves him and understands him better than anyone else. Her mother and herself are almost equals, in how they treat each other. They are very, very close.

Obierika: Okonkwo's best friend. While he, like Okonkwo, acts as a man should act (according to their culture), he still retains his humanity. He wants things to stay as they are (i.e. send away the white people), but is not as unshakeable as Okonkwo and is willing to compromise.

Uchendu: He is Okonkwo's uncle, and is an elder in his village of Mbanta. He helps Okonkwo when he comes to Mbanta after being exiled for seven years.

The District Commissioner: A white man, a representative of the British government. He does not observe how cruel the court messengers are, and dismisses Okonkwo as a primitive man, barely worth a paragraph of writing.


Site and content by Kersten Cheyne ©2004.