Non-Western Literature

Discussion Questions for Achebe, week 1


These questions should be reviewed before reading the material, as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
  1. The novel begins by discussing Okonkwo's relationship with his father and his status in the village of Umuofia. Explain how the two are related.

  2. The situation with Ikemefuna can be interpreted many different ways. Given their history and Okonkwo's feelings towards the boy, as well as his status in the village, does Okonkwo do the right thing to/for Ikemefuna? Look at what the novel says, as well as what you think.

  3. Compare and contrast Okonkwo's feelings towards Nwoye and Ezinma, especially considering their genders. Do these feelings affect the way Okonkwo treats them, or acts as a father?

  4. Explain your reaction to Okonkwo's actions as a husband. He obviously has a temper, but is he really mistreating his wives? Look at all the evidence, not just one or two specific instances in answering this question.

  5. One of the novel's main points seems to be to show that the Ibo had a culture and civilization before the white man came along. After all, the first part of the novel is ALL pre-white man. Give your impression of their culture based on what you've read. Is this an advanced or primitive civilization? Were they in need of European civilization to "better" their lives?

  6. Is Okonkwo's exile and punishment fair? Compare what he did with what we've seen him do in the rest of the novel in answering your question.