The annotation assignment requires students to select a one-page passage from Things Fall Apart and electronically mark up the text, adding interpretive commentary, explanatory notes, identifying metaphors and providing links to relevant online resources, images, sounds. Think of annotations as notes and multimedia versions of the type of notes I provide for Robert Hayden’s Middle Passage.


The annotation should feature four longer interpretive comments (150 words each) and three additional resources: images, links, or multimedia files. Your comments may focus on:


  • The language, structure and themes of the passage. What is significant about the choices Achebe makes relating to dialogue, metaphors, repetition, etc. What themes do you note in the passage and how do they relate to course content?


  • References—direct or implicit—to contemporary political, social, historical and cultural contexts. What can we learn about colonial Nigeria from the passage? What about Igbo culture? What do we learn about Okonkwo’s way of life from the book? How does this relate to the time period in which Achebe was writing the book?


Your annotated passage should be followed by a bibliography in APA style that lists the resources you used for the passage and your multimedia resources.




  • When writing your interpretive notes, ask “why do I think this matters?”. When identifying metaphors or turns of phrase that seem interesting to you, remember to explain why they are interesting.


  • Your additional resources should be relevant to the passage rather than merely decorative. Ask yourself how an image, link or multimedia file offers readers a deeper understanding of the passage.


  • If you’re having difficulty devising an approach to the assignment, or if you want to discuss ideas-in-progress, come to my office hours or email me to set up an appointment


  • You can use a variety of formats to do this assignment, in general I would suggest Microsoft Word, and use the footnotes function, or create comments in Adobe Acrobat.


Annotation assignment on the novel Things fall apart by China Achebe