Things Fall Apart Essay Outline

Topic #1
Discuss the significance of Things Fall Apart as a social document and a novel dramatizing traditional Igbo life and its first encounter with colonialism and Christianity at the turn of the twentieth century.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Things Fall Apart recreates the conflict between European and Igbo cultures at the turn of the twentieth century by focusing on the cataclysmic changes introduced by the forces of colonialism and Christianity.

II. Social and Economic Life of the Igbo
A. Social structure of the Igbo
B. Role of men and women
C. Role of marriage and the family
D. Significance of the yam

III. Traditional Politics
A. Umuofia and the political structure
B. Success and personal achievement
C. The title-taking system
D. The leadership role of elders
E. The judicial role of egwugwu

IV. Colonial Changes in Economic and Political Life
A. Significance of the palm-oil trade
B. The colonial administration
C. The District Commissioner
D. The native court
E. The role of court messengers

V. Traditional Igbo Religion
A. Chukwu, the Supreme Creator God
B. Ani, the Earth goddess
C. Agbala, and the Oracles
D. Ritual sacrifices
E. The feminine and masculine principles
F. Ogbanje children
G. The abandonment of twins
H. The role of the ancestors
I. Titles and reincarnation
J. Children and reincarnation

VI. Christianity and Changes in Social and Religious Life
A. The missionary factor
B. The first Igbo Christians: osu, mothers of twins, unsuccessful men
C. Zealots
D. Conflicts with traditional beliefs
E. Breakup of the Igbo clan

VII. The Author’s Recreation of History through Literary Techniques (Optional)
A. Characterization of Okonkwo
B. Use of proverbs
C. Use of stories within the text
D. Significance of the title in relationship to “The Second Coming”

VIII. Conclusion
A. The use of...

(The entire section is 867 words.)

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  •   

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