Copyright

Obiageli in Things Fall Apart

Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Chinua Achebe's novel ''Things Fall Apart'' contains many nuanced characters, even minor ones like Obiageli. In this lesson, learn about Obiageli and her role in this work.

Who is Obiageli?

Have you ever written a story and tried to find ways of showing what your main character is like without just telling your reader? Sometimes an author will use minor characters to contrast other characters or help us get to know main characters. Obiageli is one such example.

Obiageli is a minor character in Chinua Achebe's famous novel, Things Fall Apart. This book is widely read and studied to this day because of its portrayal of British colonization in Nigeria, all from the perspective of the native Nigerians. The novel follows its protagonist, an Igbo man, or native Nigerian, as he deals with conflicts between tradition and new ideas.

Obiageli is the daughter of the novel's protagonist, Okonkwo, and the daughter of Okonkwo's first wife. Obiageli is often compared to another of Okonkwo's daughters, Ezinma, who is impulsive and always speaks her mind. Okonkwo often says that Obiageli is more sensible than her sister and less inclined to speak out of turn. Even after Obiageli misbehaves, she's very apologetic, and Ezinma seems to have some type of influence over the girl.

Traditional Igbo dress
Igbo women

Obiageli's Scenes

Obiageli is a minor character, and doesn't really appear much in the novel, which may say something on its own about how her father feels about her. In contrast, her sister Ezinma is definitely Okonkwo's favorite daughter, because Okonkwo speaks of her often and praises her for the traits she exhibits that Okonkwo feels are 'masculine', and therefore make her strong.

Obiageli receives no such praise from her father; in fact, Okonkwo calls Obiageli sensible when she's a child, but doesn't really seem to seek her out for companionship. As a child, Obiageli shatters her water jar when she's returning from the stream, first laughing, then crying over this as she makes her way back to the family compound. She's goofing off when it happens, which shows that she's really just a normal kid who wants to have fun. But she does come clean with her father, which was probably scary, considering Okonkwo is kind of a scary guy and prone to violent outbursts. You remember what it was like to tell your parents you'd done something wrong as a kid, right?

Obiageli, although an obedient kid overall, does turn out to have a bit of an attitude. She tells Okonkwo, basically, that he shouldn't eat with his mouth full, and in the same comment mouths off to her sister, Ezinma, who tattles on her to Okonkwo about the pot-breaking incident. So, while Obiageli doesn't appear in the novel for long, she does make an impression.

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