The Freytag model, according to Freytag, is a structure that is enveloped in every story in a kind of pyramid-like shape. The story usually has exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. It is difficult for an account to start with a climax; there is a build-up to every story. This is what makes the story exciting, and it makes the reader more intrigued because they will want to know what has happened next after a specific scene. This is also true for Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, which follows Okonkwo’s life and events that have led him to a resolution which can be termed as unprecedented (Achebe, 1958).
In Things Fall Apart, this model has been used to show specific plot points and twists in the story that ensure that the reader continues to move through the story. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Okonkwo, and we are told about him and his youth and also his father, Unoka. We are made aware that Okonkwo is ill-tempered, and he has no patience for lazy men which he thinks his son is, and he does not like it (Achebe, 1958). The Model is used to show that the reader has to continue to read and try and see how different Okonkwo was from his father. Unoka, his father, had sunk into debt and he was not responsible, and this is what Okonkwo wanted to be detached from entirely.
The build-up continues as we see that war could be brewing and Okonkwo, who is a great warrior could use this chance to elevate his position in the community. Okonkwo needs to pursue this avenue to free his family name from the disgrace and shame that his father brought unto them. Thus far, the model has been used very well, and we are moving towards a climax as the story builds up. We can see that Okonkwo has taken up a doomed boy Ikemefuna who will be sacrificed to void war, and he has to watch over the boy (Achebe, 1958).
Okonkwo has been able to take up a good position in society, and we see he has been chosen as an emissary by his peers; he is treated with respect. The use of flashback has also been significantly used to explain Okonkwo’s early years and life. However, the focus is mostly on his father, who was an exempt flute player but he was very but at finances, and he sank into debt which he died before paying (Achebe, 1958). Therefore, Okonkwo is left with the burden of paying for his father’s sins. Most of the village men would look upon Okonkwo, and they would assume that he will inevitably become like his father. This use of flashbacks enriches the plot by making the reader curious to learn whether Okonkwo will indeed end up like his father.
At this juncture, this does not seem the case, Okonkwo is resolved that he is far from what his father was at his age. We can see that despite all the right sides, Okonkwo’s temper could end up being his downfall and through flashbacks, this is made very clear. We are also able to see that Okonkwo had issues with other men’s masculinity and when he beat his wife during the Week of Peace, and this is not taken very well (Achebe, 1958). His pride and ego cannot let him live as a humble man, and this is sad. This build-up continues, and it highlights the growing fondness between Ikemefuna and Nwoye, who is Okonkwo’s son. It also highlights some of Okonkwo’s flaws which could cost him dearly among his clansmen and his society.
Freytag’s plot pyramid has been used incisively because the story from page 1-13 is building up to something, and it can be seen. We are aware that Okonkwo dies miserably by hanging himself, but he does this because he did not want to be like other men, and he rebelled.
Achebe, C., Bacon, C. W., Heinemann (Firm),, & Windmill Press,. (1958). Things fall apart.
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