Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe This book was not quite what I expected. I had assumed that I would learn more about Okonkwo's life as a warrior and wrestler, as this aspect of his life was highlighted by the blurb. Instead, Achebe delivered a story of how the Ibo lived their village life before the coming of the Europeans, how their society was tied together and, which I did expect, how all this unravelled with the arrival of the Christian missionaries and European government.I wasn't disappointed by having my expectations confounded, however. This was an engaging story and the characters well drawn. I did have difficulties in identifying with, or sympathizing with the main protagonist, Okonkwo. He seems to be a thoroughly unlikeable person through most of the book, although Achebe clearly explains why this is so. As the book is drawing to its conclusion, though, Okonkwo's struggle to protect his way of life and the Ibo culture had a redeeming quality about it and he transcended his bullying persona to become a true, if still violent, champion.I didn't find this to be a depressing book, as other reviewers have found it. The fates of many of the characters are certainly tragic, as is the depiction of the impending demise of the Ibo culture, but I saw Okonkwo's ultimate self-sacrifice not as an act of desperation and despair, but as the act of a warrior of his people, protecting the clans against the retribution that his actions would surely bring from the governing Europeans. Ironically, it seems to me that Okonkwo ends as a somewhat Christ-like figure.