Plato and Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" Book Review

Looks at the Platonic nature of the Igbo people in Chinua Achebe's novel "Things Fall Apart" through which he draws parallels between Nigerian Igbo and Western cultures.
# 150469 | 2,345 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Feb 19, 2012 in Philosophy (Ancient Greek) , English (Analysis) , Literature (African)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper explains that Chinua Achebe writes a counter-narrative in his novel "Things Fall Apart" that fully embodies a number of Platonic ideals, such as the dichotomy between man-boy and father-son love, the notion of an aristocracy, the importance of the spiritual over the visceral and community primacy. Next, the author discuses Plato's philosophy and then reviews the novel's plot pointing out these counter-narrative. The paper concludes that, by infusing Platonic ideals into the book, Achebe forces readers to acknowledge that Western civilization and the so-called 'savage' civilization of Nigeria have the same foundation.

From the Paper:

"One of the first glimpses into the Platonic nature Achebe ascribes to Umuofia reveals the primacy of the community and the value relationship between the spiritual and the visceral. Early in the novel, Okonkwo acts out violently during Umuofia's "Week of Peace," neglecting to consider the effects of his actions on the village, and is punished for his violence. Although he "was provoked to justifiable anger by his youngest wife, who went to plait her hair at a friend's house and did not return early enough to cook the afternoon meal," Okonkwo, in the eyes of the community, sacrilegiously "beat her very heavily" during the "Week of Peace". In Umuofia, the "Week of Peace" is intended "to honor [the] great goddess of the earth without whose blessings [their] crops will not grow" (Achebe 30). By breaking this peace, Okonkwo disrespected and insulted the earth goddess and thus did not act in his community's interest. As a result, Okonkwo was forced to "bring to the shrine of [the earth goddess] one she-goat, one hen, a length of cloth and a hundred cowries" to atone for his disturbance of the sacred week and place Umuofia in the favor of the earth goddess once again. Many of the laws governing Umuofia serve to ensure the community's livelihood and place a high value on the spiritual aspect of existence."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Achebe, China. Things Fall Apart. New York: Random House, 1994.
  • Plato. The Republic. New York: Penguin Books, 2007.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Plato and Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (2012, February 19) Retrieved August 18, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Plato and Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"" 19 February 2012. Web. 18 August. 2022. <>