'Things Fall Apart' Discussion Questions


Things Fall Apart is a famous novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It's considered an important work in world literature, albeit a controversial one. The book has been banned in some places for its negative portrayal of European colonialism. The book is split into three parts showing the reader the negative effects of colonization on the main characters tribe. It also shows how Christian missionaries work to convert the African population helped to forever alter their culture.

The book was written in 1958 and became one of the first books from Africa to become world renowned. It is seen as an archetype for the modern African novel. This is a great book to read in a book club because of the depth of the work.

Discussion Questions

  • What is important about the title: Things Fall Apart? Is there a reference in the novel that explains the title? 
  • What are the conflicts in Things Fall Apart? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional)?
  • How does Chinua Achebe reveal character in Things Fall Apart?
  • What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • What are some symbols in Things Fall Apart? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Are the characters consistent in their actions? Are they fully developed characters? Are some characters more fully developed than others? How? Why?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?
  • What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful? 
  • Do you think the novel is meant to be political? What point was the author trying to make? Did he succeed?
  • Why is the novel so controversial? Do you think the book should be censored or banned? Should it be taught in schools? 
  • How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?
  • What is the role of family and community in this novel? How does it change with the arrival of Europeans? How does it change when the missionaries arrive?
  • Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why? What point do you think the author was making with the conclusion of the novel? Does you perspective change knowing there is a sequel?
  • Would you recommend this novel to a friend?
  • How is religion portrayed in this novel? Do you think the Christian missionaries had a positive or negative impact on the characters? 
  • What's important about the time period the novel is set in?
  • Why do you think the author's decision to write the novel in English rather than his native language cause controversy?
  • What point is the author trying to make about the African identity? What problems does the author outline? Does he offer solutions?