Things fall apart is a tragedy novel written by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo, who is the protagonist of the novel and one of the most powerful men in the Ibo tribe often resorts to violence to make his points understood. Down in his heart, Okonkwo is not a cruel man, but his life is dominated by his internal conflict, the fear of failure and of weakness. He hated his father, Unoka, because he was a lazy debtor. Okonkwo made it a point in his life to set himself apart from his father by being well known and wealthy as well as becoming a great warrior in the tribal conflicts of Umuofia and the surrounding villages.
“His life had been ruled by a great passion”, the drive from being unlike Unoka set Okonkwo’s goal “to become one of the lords of the clan” but because of him being expelled he couldn’t “[achieve] it” (131). Okonkwo’s fear of being like his father came crashing down as he left Umuofia and lost all the titles he had worked for. He was forcefully reverted to his original identity, having nothing. This experience showed Okonkwo that no matter how hard he worked he could always end back in the position that Unoka was in because that is where everyone
A sense of identity is often acquired and developed by everyone as they mature, but it is always changing as the culture changes. The novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, follows the development of several characters in response to a cultural shock caused by the Westernization of the Ibo tribe in Nigeria. The protagonist of the book, Okonkwo, is a strong, diligent leader and supercilious warrior of the tribe who obsessed over his masculine image. However, Okonkwo’s eldest son, Nwoye, tries to shadow and please his father, but ultimately fails for he has a soft side. Especially when it comes to religion, Nwoye’s believes, morals, and interests often diverse from his fathers.
The Most Masculine Man In the story Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe portraits Okonkwo, the main character, as a symbol of masculinity. His strong hatred toward his lazy father Unoka, Okonkwo adopts a extreme ideal of masculinity and strives him to achieve a title of strongest man. “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. ” (1) Okonkwo’s ideal of becoming productive, wealthy, and strong defines the word “masculinity” used in Things Fall Apart.
At the beginning of the book, Okonkwo is seen as very strong. Also, Okonkwo only shows the emotion anger because he thinks that is the only emotion that men should show and every other emotion is feminine according to his standards. Okonkwo becomes like this because of his father. His father was lazy and dies a dishonorable death and leaves nothing for his family. Okonkwo fears becoming like his father, an agbala.
Fear is the core cause of the dramatic shift of lifestyle for both Okonkwo and Nwoye. Through the management of reputation and the avoidance of their father’s likeness, Okonkwo and Nwoye built new lives for themselves. Okonkwo sought power and authority to prove his masculinity and make up for Unoka’s reputation as a weak man. He did this to the point where manliness became his character. Fearlessness and violence were masculine qualities that in Igbo culture signifies strength and influence.
“That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself;” (Achebe, Pg. 183) Okonkwo, a man of power who was greatly revered by his family, lost all his valuable objects, power, titles, and his son due to the white men’s new religion. He could not stand seeing his own religion fading away and thus, hanged himself. Those extremists who were introduced a new culture were at first in a great dilemma but their minds were later occupied with anger.
Okonkwo wants Nwoye “to be a great farmer and a great man” however, Nwoye is showing signs of laziness like his grandfather Unoka. Since, Nwoye was starting to be lazy, Okonkwo would “correct him by constant nagging and beating.” Okonkwo thought beating him was teaching him to not be lazy and be a great man. However, it just made turn and push away. Okonkwo’s relationship with Nwoye “is turning father hating into a new trend into the family.” Okonkwo hated his father Unoka and wanted to be nothing like him and now Nwoye hates his father Okonkwo and wants to be nothing like him. This means Nwoye wants to be like his grandfather Unoka because he was lazy and that is the opposite of his father Okonkwo- a hard
Okonkwo, the protagonist, is a strong warrior and a clan leader in Umuofia. He has three wives and eight children but unlike most men, he cares more for is daughter Enzimna than his oldest son, Nwoye because he thinks he is lazy, weak and effeminate. Okonkwo was always embarrassed by his father, Unoka, who was lazy and effeminate but that made him the strong leader who he became. When he was young, he defeated the best wrestler in the village, earning him lasting prestige. Okonkwo does whatever he can to look strong and is terrified of looking weak.
Rick Godwin once said, “One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain”. In the novel “Things Fall Apart”, by Chinua Achebe Okonkwo resists changes when the british missionaries arrive and it causes conflicts throughout the novel. His defiance, warrior-like, manliness behavior leads him to his suicide when he realizes change sometimes can not be controlled. Okonkwo’s nobility and prosperity is revealed through his success and leadership within the clan. Aristotle stated in “On Tragedy” that “He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous.”.In “Things Fall Apart” Achebe gives background information on Okonkwo saying “He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife.” (5).