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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials: Things Fall Apart

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It tells the story of Okonkwo, an Igbo man whose traditional life conflicts with growing English colonialism.

The cover of "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe. Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer more tossups. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on "Things Fall Apart"


Okonkwo is the main character of Things Fall Apart. He is a yam farmer and a leader in his village of Umofia. Unlike his father Unoka, he is strong and hard-working, character traits that he is very proud of. This is exemplified by his skill as a wrestler, and he is especially well known for defeating wrestling legend Amalinze the Cat.


Ezinma is Okonkwo’s favorite daughter. When it is suspected the Ezinma is possessed, Chielo, the priestess to Agbala, the Oracle of the Hills and Caves carries Ezinma on her back to the caves for exorcism. Both Okonkwo and Ekwefi (his wife) follow the priestess into the woods to ensure Ezinma’s safety.


Ikemefuna is the adopted son of Okonkwo. When the village oracle declares that Ikemefuna must be killed to appease the gods, Okonkwo participates in the ritual killing to avoid appearing weak. Angry at his father for participating, Okonkwo’s son Nwoye rebels against the traditional ways of his father by converting to Christianity and changing his name to Isaac.


At the funeral of Ezeudu, a village elder, Okonkwo accidentally shoots and kills Ezeudu’s son during a gun salute. As punishment, Okonkwo and his family are exiled for seven years to Mbanta. When he returns from exile, Okonkwo finds that Umofia is converting to Christianity brought by white missionaries Rev. Smith and Mr. Brown.


Upon Okonkwo's return, Enoch, a Christian convert unmasks an egwugwu (village elder). In retaliation, Okonkwo leads a raid on the missionaries, burning a church to the ground. After being caught by the District Commissioner, Okonkwo commits suicide by hanging himself rather than suffer the humiliation of a trial. The Commissioner later includes the story of Okonkwo in his book, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* The New Yorker wrote about Achebe and Things Fall Apart. Read it here: * An analysis of Things Fall Apart from the New York Times:

* The Overdue Podcast devoted an episode to Things Fall Apart. Listen here:

* An animated summary of Things Fall Apart:


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