30+ Important 'Things Fall Apart' Quotes To Support Your Literature Studies

Flora Wilson
Dec 12, 2023 By Flora Wilson
Originally Published on Jan 28, 2021
Library with multiple shelves and books.

Even though the book has a sequel, 'Things Fall Apart' has a tragic story.

The book is written by the Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, and is a historical fiction, based on the life of the character named Okonkwo belonging to a Nigerian clan called Umuofia.

The story has many unique features like the symbols used- yams, locusts and fire. Locusts are the white settlers in the story who exploit them, while fire is used for the main character Okonkwo who is show to be a fierce man.

A yam is an important crop that is used to judge the masculinity of the man. The man who eats more yams is considered to be more worthy.

The story is tragic as you read on knowing that after the struggles of the main hero, he meets an unhappy ending.

Read these 'Things Fall Apart' quotes in this article that will impress you even further. Also read our articles on 'Heart Of Darkness' quotes and 'The House On Mango Street' quotes.

Religious Quotes

The characters in 'Things Fall Apart' are very religious, holding true to their clan beliefs. Many 'Things Fall Apart' quotes show their strong faith in religion:

1. “He saw himself and his father’s crowding round their ancestral shrine waiting in vain for worship and sacrifice and finding nothing but ashes of bygone days..”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

2. “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, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

3. “Okonkwo felt a cold shudder run through him at the terrible prospect, like the prospect of annihilation. He saw himself and his father’s crowding round their ancestral shrine waiting in vain for worship and sacrifice and finding nothing but ashes of bygone days, and his children the while praying to the white man’s god.”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

4. “Let us not reason like cowards, if a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor, what do I do? Do I shut my eyes? No! I take a stick and break his head. That is what a man does.”

- Okonkwo

5. “After such treatment it would think twice before coming again, unless it was one of the stubborn ones who returned, carrying the stamp of their mutilation–a missing finger or perhaps a dark line where the medicine man’s razor had cut them.”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

6. “But I fear for you young people because you do not understand how strong is the bond of kinship…And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you.

A man can now leave his father and his brothers. He can curse gods of his fathers and his ancestors, like a hunter's dog that suddenly goes mad and turns on his master. I fear for you; I fear for the clan.”

Quotes About Race

With the arrival of the white men on their shore, the African story quickly changes. The distinguishing words are evident from these 'Things Fall Apart' quotes.

7. “Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

8. “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.”

- Okonkwo

9. “Okonkwo was not a man of thought but a man of action.”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

10. “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. ... He mourned for the clan ... for the warlike men.”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

11. “The world is large; I have even heard that in some tribes a man's children belong to his wife and her family.”

- Okonkwo

12. “One of the greatest crimes a man could commit was to unmask an Egwugwu in public, or to say or do anything which might reduce its immortal prestige in the eyes of the uninitiated. And this was what Enoch did.”

Quotes About Colonization

The book revolves around the pre-colonial period. But as the story goes further, we are taken to the time of the arrival of Europeans, the white men who take over their lands. Therefore, even if  fiction, some 'Things Fall Apart' quotes mention the colonization of that time. Let's take a look at these 'Things Fall Apart' quotes.

13. “And at last, the locusts did descend. They settled on every tree and on every blade of grass; they settled on the roofs and covered the bare ground. Mighty tree branches broke away under them, and the whole country became the brown-earth color of the vast, hungry swarm.”

- Chinua Achebe, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

14. “He was not an albino. He was quite different.' He sipped his wine.

'And he was riding an iron horse. The first people who saw him ran away, but he stood beckoning to them. In the end the fearless ones went near and even touched him. The elders consulted their Oracle and it told them that the strange man would break their clan and spread destruction among them.”

- Obierika

15. “He who brings kola brings life.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'.

16. “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, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

Important Quotes From 'Things Fall Apart'

The 'Things Fall Apart' is a very important book for its readers. Many quotes have been marked as noteworthy by the fans as lessons of life. Here are some of the most important 'Things Fall Apart' quotes:

17. “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, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

18. “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, 'Things Fall Apart'

19. “When he walked, his heels hardly touched the ground and he seemed to walk on springs, as if he was going to pounce on somebody. And he did pounce on people quite often.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

20. “It was like beginning life anew without the vigor and enthusiasm of youth, like learning to become left-handed in old age.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

21. "You have a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not pick its pride. It’s more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone."


22. “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.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

23. “If ever a man deserved his success, that man was Okonkwo. At an early age he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler in all the land.

That was not luck. 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 say yes his chi says yes also….

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

24. “Living fire begets cold, impotent ash. He”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

25. “Never kill a man who says nothing.”

-Uchendu, 'Things Fall Apart'.

26. “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

-Obierika, 'Things Fall Apart'.

27. “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, 'Things Fall Apart'

28. “A child cannot pay for its mother’s milk.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

29. “Nwoye always wondered who Nnadi was and why he should live all by himself, cooking and eating. In the end he decided that Nnadi must live in that land of Ikemefuna’s favorite story where the ant holds his court in the splendor and the sands dance forever.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

30. “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.”

- Chinua Achebe, 'Things Fall Apart'

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Things Fall Apart' quotes, then why not take a look at 'The Bluest Eye' quotes, or [Black History inspirational quotes].

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Written by Flora Wilson

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Flora Wilson

Flora enjoys exploring new places and outdoor spaces. Having recently moved to London, she is passionate about her new home city, although she has a soft spot for all things Brum. She is skilled in embroidery, sewing, and cooking, and loves to create large meals for her loved ones. In her professional career, Flora has worked in children's theater, television, and festivals, always striving to create magical experiences.

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