These Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart quotes show why the book is one of the most memorable West African novels ever written.
It tells the story of how life ebbs and flows for Okonkwo, as he and his clan are on the precipice of change and transition.
Empires rise and fall, yet it is the people in the society that must either embrace or resist change.
Things Fall Apart reminds us all that as times and customs change, it is up to the individual to choose what they wish to hold on to and what they wish to let go of.
These 50 Things Fall Apart quotes address a number of topics ranging from masculinity, femininity, family, war, foreigners, culture, customs, and West African pearls of wisdom.
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Life lessons in Things Fall Apart quotes
1. “ A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing.”
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2. “When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.”
3. “Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered.”
4. “As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.”
5. “For whom is it well, for whom is it well? There is no one for whom it is well.”
6. “Never make an early morning appointment with a man who has just married a new wife.”
7. “The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
8. “Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life.”
9. “As our people say, a man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness.”
10. “As the saying goes, an old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.”
11. “ He always said that whenever he saw a dead man’s mouth he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one’s lifetime.”
12. “But I fear for you young people because you do not understand how strong is the bond of kinship. You do not know what it is to speak with one voice.”
Inspiration from Things Fall Apart quotes
13. “The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did.”
14. “Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching”
15. “Fortunately, among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father.”
16. “Our elders say that the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. I shall pay my big debts first.”
17. “We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, a man asks his kinsman to scratch him.”
18. “We do not ask for wealth because he that has health and children will also have wealth. We do not pray to have more money but to have more kinsmen.”
19. “ Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.”
20. “Do not despair. I know you will not despair. You have a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.”
21. “It’s true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you.”
Things Fall Apart quotes about the characters
22. “And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion-to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness.”
23. “Perhaps down in his heart, Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw.”
24. “He could hear in his mind’s ear the blood-stirring and intricate rhythms of the ekwe and the udu and the ogene, and he could hear his own flute weaving in and out of them, decorating them with a colorful and plaintive tune. The total effect was gay and brisk, but if one picked out the flute as it went up and down and then broke up into short snatches, one saw that there was sorrow and grief there.”
25. “Okonkwo’s fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father. Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title.”
Nothing lasts forever.
Okonkwo’s experience reminds the reader of the importance of balancing our connection to our traditions while embracing new forms of change.
While Okonkwo was fond of his culture’s traditions and ways, in some instances he was unable to adjust to times of change.
There is a proverb that says that when the hard wind blows, the mighty unbending trees fall while the trees that can bend are able to survive and grow another day.
It is important for all of us to remain connected to things that keep us grounded.
However, it is equally important when to know when to adjust and when to remain steadfast.
Use these Things Fall Apart quotes as motivation to inspiration to find the balance of staying connected and learning where to bend and adjust.