What It Is:
Things Fall Apart is a book that shows the contrast between two worlds in Africa. The old world, full of superstition, tribal wars, and nomad living; versus the new world, and the influence of the British, Christianity, and education. First published in 1958, the book follows a man, Okonkwo, as he desperately tries to hold onto the old world and reject the new way of life.
I received the study guide for Things Fall Apart from Progeny Press. This guide, meant for high school students, leads them through the book, chapter by chapter. Each section covers between 3 and 4 chapters and has different components including:
- Vocabulary - these exercises can be fill-in-the-blank type questions, matching or multiple choice
- Characterization - this section might ask the student to compare and contrast two characters, dig into their background, or character analyzing
- Questions - these are questions relating to the story, but are deep enough to draw out literary ideas
- Analysis - these questions tend to introduce literary concepts, such as anthropomorphism, paradox, foreshadowing, and irony
- Dig Deeper - this part uses scripture to analyze the characters and their actions
- Optional Activities - these range from discussion ideas, research suggestions, and more in-depth scripture study
Meant to be used for eight to ten weeks, the guide is easy to use and self explanatory. At the end of the guide is an overview, which can also be used as a final test. There is also an extensive list of essay suggestions for you to assign, and additional resources that might be helpful as well.
What You Get:
Progeny Press has both the book Things Fall Apart and the study guide available. The book is sold for $11.95 and is a hard copy. The literature guide can be bought three different ways: the printed booklet for $21.99, the CD for $18.99, and as a pdf instant download for $18.99. I received the pdf format and was very happy to see that the guide was interactive. My kids were able to fill in the fields on the computer so we didn't have to print the pages out. You can see sample pages of this guide here.
How We Used This And What I Thought:
I had my two older children read the book and begin to go through the guide. The story was very intriguing, so they both ended up reading the whole book, even though we only got about halfway through the guide. They spent two or three days in each section, spending 30-45 minutes a day answering the guide questions.
The book touched on some very interesting topics...spousal abuse, demon possession, marriage customs, and suicide. These can be hard subjects, but necessary to discuss with our older children. In our home I would not dream of breaching these subjects without the Bible open and being referenced to. And this is where this literature guide shines through. There is a heavy emphasis on scripture, and an in-depth examination of humanistic ideas versus Christian beliefs. In the story, missionaries come to the village and begin to slowly show the people their depraved state, with their killings of twins, polygamy, and tribal wars. The student, with scripture, explores how culture affects our religious choices and way of life, and how hard it can be for those blinded to change their ways.
I appreciated the depth of this study. The ideas and concepts that are taught make this not just a literature guide, but a Bible study on sociology and culture. The literature aspects were well taught also; similes, metaphors, rich vocabulary words, and comprehensive essay assignments are all very appropriate for the high school student. I would highly recommend this study guide and others from Progeny Press.
Other members of The Crew reviewed other Progeny Press guides, including Hall of Doors: The Dragon's Hoard Book, The Golden Goblet, Treasure Island, and The Hobbit. Click below to see what they have to say too.