OER Administrator
English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Social Cohesion
  • Things Fall Apart
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    A Review On Authority & Control

    A Review On Authority & Control


    There are different ways of gaining authority or control as an outsider. In this lesson, students will begin to examine how Mr. Brown, one of the missionaries, won converts to his religion and way of life despite being outnumbered.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

    Successful Steps for Outsiders

    • This Quick Write is meant to frame students’ thinking about the contrast between Mr. Brown and Reverend Smith: these two characters provide two very different visions of how to influence a group.
    • Try to hear a few different responses. Today’s lesson will examine the actions of Mr. Brown, who won converts by respecting the culture, religion, and traditions of the Umuofian people even as he tried to convince them that Christianity was a superior religion. See if your students state similar ways of earning respect.
      • ELL: When completing the Quick Writes, be sure that ELLs have access to a dictionary and that they have some time to discuss with a partner before writing, to help them organize their thoughts. Consider that students coming from different cultures might have a very different take on some of these topics.


    Complete a Quick Write.

    • Imagine an outsider coming into a position of supposed authority. Think about a new principal in a school, a stepparent, a new coach or manager for a preexisting team, a new teacher, and so on. What are steps people can take to ensure that they are accepted and that their requests are followed?

    Open Notebook

    Share your response with your classmates.

    Mr. Brown and Reactions to Christianity

    • Read aloud a selection of text, modeling the inferences you can make about Mr. Brown and about Christianity’s growth in Umuofia.
      • SWD: Be sure that your pace is adequate for students to follow what you are saying and make annotations at the same time.
    • Possible annotations from the beginning of Chapter 21:
      • ✓ Mr. Brown “was very firm in restraining his flock from provoking the wrath of the clan”: Mr. Brown is careful to make sure the converts don’t create any friction with the rest of the clan.
      • ✓ “Everything was possible, he told his energetic flock, but everything was not expedient. And so Mr. Brown came to be respected even by the clan, because he trod softly on its faith”: Mr. Brown does not use all the power he has; he sees that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that that action is the right thing, or will help you. His gentle approach gains him respect in the clan.
      • ✓ Mr. Brown “made friends with some of the great men of the clan and on one of his frequent visits to the neighboring villages he had been presented with a carved elephant tusk, which was a sign of dignity and rank”: Mr. Brown is reaching out even to people he doesn’t hope to convert; by befriending the leaders of the clan, he is earning the respect of many.
      • ✓ “One of the great men in that village was called Akunna and he had given one of his sons to be taught the white man’s knowledge in Mr. Brown’s school”: Even a leader who has no intention of converting is taking advantage of the opportunities Mr. Brown and the missionaries have brought.
      • ✓ “Whenever Mr. Brown went to that village he spent long hours with Akunna in his obi talking through an interpreter about religion. Neither of them succeeded in converting the other but they learned more about their different beliefs”: Mr. Brown treats members of the clan as equals, and is open to learning about Igbo religion even as he shares information about Christianity. This fundamental respect he has for others wins him respect in return.
    • You could also allow students to take notes on sticky notes.

    Work Time

    How does Mr. Brown convince people to follow him? And how do different groups or characters react to the growing presence of Christianity in Umuofia?

    Follow along as your teacher begins reading and take notes on the following.

    • Evidence of the steps Mr. Brown takes to convince people to follow him
    • Evidence of different characters’ or groups’ reactions to Christianity
    • What you learn from the evidence

    Open Notebook

    Things Fall Apart, Chapters 20 and 21

    • Groups should be conferring about the evidence they found. Tell them that their third and final discussion is coming up; the evidence they find and analyze now will help them support their points in this discussion.
      • SWD: Be sure that when comparing the entries and the inferences, some students don’t become discouraged when they see that their work is weaker or shorter (or less sophisticated) than that of other students.

    Work Time

    Continue the work you began with your teacher, completing a Dialectical Journal in which you analyze quotations that reveal the following.

    • Evidence of the steps Mr. Brown takes to convince people to follow him
    • Evidence of different characters’ or groups reactions to Christianity

    Compare the quotations you found and inferences you made with your group members.

    • How do you think your character would describe Mr. Brown and the religion he has brought?
    • At this point in the novel, what would your character think about Okonkwo and his homecoming to Umuofia? Would your character see him as a hero, an interloper, a pretender, a threat? Or something in between?

    Okonkwo?s Homecoming

    • Try to leave time to hear a few responses.


    Complete a character journal entry and share it with your community group.

    • Write a description of Okonkwo’s homecoming from the point of view of your character. Include both the facts of his homecoming as your character would have seen them, and your character’s opinion about Okonkwo and the disappointments he finds.

    Open Notebook

    Personal Journal - Entry #11 and Things Fall Apart

    • Remind students that thoughtful journal entries will give them a wealth of material to draw from when they begin their personal narratives.


    Complete another personal journal entry.

    • Remembering Okonkwo’s experience coming home to Umuofia after 7 years of exile, describe a time when something you had anticipated turned out to disappoint you. What had you been hoping for, and what did you find? How did you react to this setback—did you end up changing your expectations, or trying to change your circumstances? How do you think you compared to Okonkwo? Explain.

    Open Notebook

    Return to your community group’s entries and read through those from this lesson. Continue the conversation, commenting on at least one other entry or reply.

    Read Chapters 22 and 23 of Things Fall Apart. Continue to add to your Personal Glossary as you read.