Quotes from Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe ·  209 pages

Rating: (228.5K votes)


“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“There is no story that is not true.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“If I hold her hand she says, ‘Don’t touch!’
If I hold her foot she says ‘Don’t touch!’
But when I hold her waist-beads she pretends not to know.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“If you don't like my story,write your own”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Then listen to me,' he said and cleared his throat. '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. She is buried there. And that is why we say that mother is supreme. Is it right that you, Okonkwo, should bring your mother a heavy face and refuse to be comforted? Be careful or you may displease the dead. Your duty is to comfort your wives and children and take them back to your fatherland after seven years. But if you allow sorrow to weigh you down and kill you, they will all die in exile.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“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 that 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.

Okonkwo’s fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“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.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“A child cannot pay for its mother’s milk.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“It always surprised him when he thought of it later that he did not sink under the load of despair.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“You do not know me,’ said Tortoise. ‘I am a changed man. I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others makes trouble for himself.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Mosquito [...] had asked Ear to marry him, whereupon Ear fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. "How much longer do you think you will live?" she asked. "You are already a skeleton." Mosquito went away humiliated, and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“At the most one could say that his chi or ... personal god was good. But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very strongly; so his chi agreed. ”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“The world is large,” said Okonkwo. “I have even heard that in some tribes a man’s children belong to his wife and her family.”

“That cannot be,” said Machi. “You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the babies.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“There was a saying in Umuofia that as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“If you had been poor in your last life I would have asked you to be rich when you come again. But you were rich. If you had been a coward, I would have asked you to bring courage. But you were a fearless warrior. If you had died young, I would have asked you to get life. But you lived long. So I shall ask you to come again the way you came before.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“You think you are the greatest sufferer in the world? Do you know that men are sometimes banished for life? Do you know that men sometimes lose all their yams and even their children? I had six wives once. I have none now except that young girl who knows not her right from her left. Do you know how many children I have buried—children I begot in my youth and strength? Twenty-two. I did not hang myself, and I am still alive.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Ogbuef Ezedudu,who was the oldest man in the village, was telling two other men when they came to visit him that the punishment for breaking the Peace of Ani had become very mild in their clan.
"It has not always been so," he said. "My father told me that he had been told that in the past a man who broke the peace was dragged on the ground through the village until he died. but after a while this custom was stopped because it spoiled the peace which it was meant to preserve.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“When a man is at peace with his gods and ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“Unoka went into an inner room and soon returned with a small wooden disc containing a kola nut, some alligator pepper and a lump of white chalk.

"I have kola," he announced when he sat down, and passed the disc over to his guest.

"Thank you. He who brings kola brings life. But I think you ought to break it," replied Okoye passing back the disc.

"No, it is for you, I think," and they argued like this for a few moments before Unoka accepted the honor of breaking the kola. Okoye, meanwhile, took the lump of chalk, drew some lines on the floor, and then painted his big toe.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


“He saw himself and his fathers crowding round their ancestral shrine waiting in vain for worship and sacrifice and finding nothing but ashes of bygone days..”
― Chinua Achebe, quote from Things Fall Apart


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About the author

Chinua Achebe
Born place: in Ogidi, Anambra, Nigeria
Born date November 16, 1930
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