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Things Fall Apart Characters and Analysis

Characters and Analysis


A clan leader, he has lived with the shame and embarrassment of his lazy and drunken father. Through his own hard work and valor in war he has earned a sound reputation among his people. However, because he is terrified of appearing weak, he overcompensates by being harsh and unyielding. This causes him trouble with his own family, the people of the village, and his fellow elders.


The oldest son of Okonkwo. His father sees him as weak and lazy, that he has inherited the flaws of Okonkwo’s father. With the help and influence of Ikemefuna, Nwoye begins to behave in ways that meet his father’s approval. However, he questions the traditional ways of his tribe and is later converted to Christianity. Okonkwo sees this as weak and effeminate.


Okonkwo’s daughter and child of his second wife, Ekwefi. She is the only one of Ekwefi’s children to survive past infancy and she is treated as a special child. She calls her mother by her name and Ekwefi treats the child like a peer. She is also Okonkwo’s favorite. He believes she understands him better than any of the other children. However, he refuses to show affection because he thinks it is a sign of weakness, and he is disappointed that she is not a son.


Okonkwo took in this boy from a nearby village. He becomes close to Nwoye, and Okonkwo eventually develops a bond with the boy. Ikemefuna even begins to call Okonkwo “father.” Even as he becomes a member of the family Okonkwo remains distant to the boy because he does not want to appear weak.

Mr. Brown

One of the first white missionaries in Umofia, he is understanding of the customs of the people and is able to set up agreements with them. He is respectful of the customs in Umofia even as he begins converting some of them to Christianity. Under his watch, things remain peaceful.

Reverend James Smith

Mr. Brown’s replacement. He is a zealous missionary and treats the local customs with outright disdain. He represents the worst of white colonialism as he provokes conflict and exerts Christian ideas without respect for indigenous ways. It his Smith who sparks the final conflicts in the novel.

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