Things Fall Apart
Signature Assignment: Things Fall Apart
(due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday of Week 7)
The signature assignment addresses all four of the course University prescribed objectives. Personal responsibility: This essay includes the integration of outside sources; it, therefore, requires students to demonstrate personal responsibility as they use the words and ideas of other writers in an accurate and ethical manner. Citing sources properly isn’t just a matter of mechanics. It’s a question of personal responsibility (with real consequences for students) that overlaps with students’ responsibility to the academic community of which they are a part. The construction of a clearly articulated thesis statement supported by a careful analysis of textual evidence demonstrates critical thinking and communication skills. The development of a well-organized essay that demonstrates the correct use of grammar and other writing mechanics and demonstrates an awareness of the how to appeal convincingly to an audience further addresses the communication objective. The critical analysis of the way the selected text engages a significant issue of social responsibility addresses the social responsibility outcome.
For this assignment you will write a well-organized, effectively developed 3-4 page (900-1200 words) analysis of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Your essay should effectively analyze the way the novel engages colonialism (or related themes, such as cultural change, tradition, tradition vs. modernity, cultural negotiation, etc.) as a significant global issue. You are required to use two secondary sources – they must be academic sources! – in your analysis of Achebe’s novel.
Choose one of the following topics:
Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart takes its title from W. B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.” Write an essay explaining and interpreting the significance of the novel’s title. Why do you think Achebe decided to take a line from a European poem as a title for his novel about British colonialism in Africa? How does the title capture one of the main themes of the novel?
Discuss the conflict between fathers and sons and explain how it relates to one of the main themes of the novel.
Compare/contrast the two great friends – Okonkwo and Obierika. What major conflict do these two characters embody and how does this conflict relate to one of the main themes of the novel?
Discuss the role of proverbs and folktales in the novel. Do the folktales mirror any of the themes of the novel?
Compare/contrast Mr. Brown with Rev. Mr. Smith. What do these characters suggest about colonialism?
What do you make of the novel’s ending (Okonkwo’s decision)? Was there any foreshadowing of this? Does the ending function as a symbol in any way? If it does, what do you make of the District Commissioner’s statement at the end of the novel?
Put an MLA heading on the left-hand side of the paper.
Essay should be 3-4 pages long (900-1200 words), typed and double-spaced.
Essay should be typed in 12-point Times New Roman with one-inch margins.
Give your paper an original title which hints at your thesis or reflects your argument; highlight or underline your thesis statement.
Support the thesis in several body paragraphs by analyzing specific details, examples, and quotes from the story.
Integrate two outside sources; your outside sources must be academic sources.
Document sources (e.g., quotes) using MLA fomat.
Provide a List of Works Cited (https://www.uta.edu/library/help/files/cite-mla.pdf); the Works Cited page does not count toward the length requirement for the paper.
Submit your essay as a Word document using the Safe Assign Tool in Lesson 7; the SafeAssign Tool monitors for plagiarism.
The essay is due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday of Week 7.
Critical thinking and communication skills
For this essay, you need to form an opinion/make a claim and develop an argument about a topic on Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Your opinion or position will be formulated into a thesis statement, and you need to defend your position using textual evidence – examples and quotations from Achebe’s novel and from outside sources.
In your introduction, you will create interest and provide the context for your argument and present your thesis statement – your interpretation of one of the text’s main themes as embodied in a character, a set of characters, a symbol, or some other aspect of the work (e.g., In The Odyssey, “Odysseus’s journey symbolizes everyman’s journey through life suggesting that in order to achieve our dreams we need to conquer temptation and know our limitations and strengths.”). Your thesis will provide an interpretation of the text’s main theme by explaining what the novel suggests about a particular topic (e.g., colonialism, cultural change, tradition, etc.) through the use of a specific literary device (e.g., character, symbol, motif, etc.) or an aspect of the work (e.g., title).
In the body of the essay, you will discuss specific points that support your thesis, elaborating on your interpretation with examples and commentary. You will analyze your examples and quotes by explaining their significance. Don’t assume that your reader will know why you find a specific quote or example significant; you need to explain why it is significant or what it reveals about a symbol or character or a theme. You will also integrate outside sources to support or develop your points about Achebe’s novel, to engage in a conversation with critics you agree or disagree with, and/or to provide historical context relevant to your argument about the novel. Keep the use of outside sources and the length of quotes from outside sources to a minimum; this is your paper and should mainly focus on your argument about the novel. Always follow a quote with a commentary of your own linking the quote to your own argument.
Each body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is an idea or a claim that explains what point you will be arguing in that paragraph. You can think of a topic sentence as a mini-thesis statement for that paragraph. Notice that a topic sentence is not a statement of fact (e.g., “Odysseus then arrives on the Island of Lotus-Eaters.”). Rather, a topic sentence is a claim about the story directly related to your thesis (e.g., “Another test on Odysseus’s journey, the Island of Lotus-Eaters stands for the temptation of an easy but empty life.”).
In the conclusion, you will summarize your main points and discuss the larger significance of the text for today’s readers and end with something memorable.
Responsible integration of sources
You must properly integrate material from two secondary sources into your analysis in a way that gives credit to the authors whose ideas and language you are incorporating.
You should use two secondary sources to support your own claims, to engage in a conversation with other critics who you agree or disagree with, and/or to provide historical context relevant to your argument about the novel. Make sure you keep the use of outside sources and the length of quotes from outside sources to a minimum. Always provide a commentary/analysis of your quote. This is your papers and should mainly focus on your argument about the novel! For more on how to use quotes from primary and secondary sources effectively, go to Norton’s LitWeb – “Effective Quotation – Useful Strategies”:
Here is a list of legitimate outside sources:
Scholarly articles (e.g., academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals; you can find citations for these articles by using the MLA International Bibliography database, Literature Resource Center, J-STOR, or Project Muse—all of which UTA’s library gives you access to online: https://libguides.uta.edu/az.php)
Scholarly books or book chapters (it’s a good bet a book is scholarly if it’s published by an academic press, such as Duke University Press; if you’re not sure, ask your instructor)
Historical documents (e.g., old newspaper articles, letters, speeches, journal entries) from academic databases (see the History subject guide on the library website for ideas)
Students interested in using a source that isn’t listed here, should check with their instructor.
NOTE: SparkNotes, CliffsNotes, and similar sources are not considered legitimate academic sources. Do not quote, paraphrase, summarize, or allude in any way to the content on these websites or in similar sources.
MLA Documentation Style
You must document all your quotes, paraphrases, summaries, and/or ideas from outside sources and from Achebe’s novel using MLA format for documentation. Copying passages, sentences, or phrases, paraphrasing sentences, summarizing passages, and/or borrowing ideas from outside sources without properly acknowledging the sources using MLA format is considered violation of UTA’s Honor Code and will result in disciplinary punishment and zero points on the assignment. Be advised that including a work in the List of Works Cited alone without using proper in-text citations constitutes plagiarism and is subject to disciplinary punishment and zero points on the assignment. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with what constitutes plagiarism. Please review the UTA library tutorial on plagiarism to learn more about what constitutes plagiarism and about how to acknowledge a source properly: https://library.uta.edu/plagiarism/index.php. If you still have questions, ask your instructor!