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Manliness in some cultures has a big impact on their everyday life and social standing.The idea of manliness has affected the way, the character Okonkwo builds his relationship with his clan and his family. This can change people because if manliness is the only thing important to a person, it could affect his relationships with the people around him. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe is revealing the theme, manliness, through Okonkwo 's actions, thoughts, and speech.
Okonkwo is driven by his hatred of his father and the fear he will become like him. Okonkwo saw his father, Unoka, as a coward and is ashamed to be his son. Everything that Okonkwo does is meant to set him apart from the legacy of his father. First, this is evident in his beating of his wives and even his aggression with his children. He is trying to show his strength and ensure he is not portrayed to be like his father: powerless and incapable. Next, Okonkwo is warned that he will be told to kill Ikemefuna, a boy who has become like a son to him. When the time comes, Okonkwo, Ikemefuna, and a few other men set out on their journey. When the men move to kill Ikemefuna, Okonkwo trails behind them so he will not have to be a part of
In Umuofia, Okonkwo has a high title, earned by demonstrating his achievement in his city. He is recognized everywhere for being a great wrestler who beat Amalinze the Cat. In chapter one, it says that “He brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat” (Achebe 3). Okonkwo made it his goal to demonstrate himself powerfully to the community because his father, Unoka, was the opposite. The emotional, lazy, gentile, and unsuccessful Unoka was interested in music and drinking, and he didn 't try hard to make a name for himself. However, Okonkwo made a name for himself because his was to not follow in his father’s footsteps. In a paragraph describing Okonkwo’s character it says, “He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience
The novel “things fall apart” is about the fatal demise of Okonkwo and the igbo culture of Umuofia. Okonkwo is well known and respected leader in his community, who is successful in everything he does, such as wrestling and farming. He is quick with his hands and takes pride in his accomplishments. Okonkwo’s family relationship makes him a sympathetic character because of his support and an unsympathetic character because of his cruelty.
When Okonkwo's family is faced with a struggle, Okonkwo lets fear rule over his actions of his family’s protection. Okonkwo’s inner thoughts are revealed; “He tried not to think about Ikemefuna, but the more he tried, the more he thought about him” (Achebe 54). Okonkwo, although he seldom openly shows it, cares about his family. After Ikemefuna’s murder, Okonkwo’s true feelings are brought forth by the weak afterthoughts of the son he had grown to care for. Okonkwo’s fear of weakness is an internal conflict that affects Okonkwo through the book. Okonkwo’s fear ends up dominating his actions, putting his family in danger. He fears being perceived as weak by the elders of the tribe, whom he greatly respects and admires, resulting in him partaking in the murder of Ikemefuna. Although Ikemefuna had begun to show Okonkwo’s valued traits of strength and independence, Okonkwo's fear overtakes him, and he kills the boy whom he had accepted as part of his family. Ikemefuna causes internal conflict to be kindled within Okonkwo which causes him to question the true value of family
Gender roles concoct an inner battle between one 's true self and who society believes they should be. This is seen right off the bat in Things Fall Apart through Okonkwo 's fear of being like his father, whom he associates with weakness. For Okonkwo, many of his irrational actions spur from these fears. A perfect example of this is seen on page sixty-one when Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna. Prior to Ikemefuna 's killing, the oldest man in the village comes to Okonkwo and tells him to take no part in the boy 's killing. When Ikemefuna was alive, Okonkwo saw him as a son and allowed the boy to call him “father”. The first sentence following Ikemefuna death is, “[Okonkwo] was afraid of being thought weak,”(61) This line demonstrates that Okonkwo is aware that killing Ikemefuna is wrong, but his excessive need to be a strong man forces him to kill the boy. Okonkwo could have grown up to be a wise and ethical man if it were not for the pressures society put on men to be the strongest in the village. This actions proves that the fear of not fitting in often forces you to become someone
When the Igbo and European cultures collide, Okonkwo gradually spirals out of control, losing everything he values and his own sense of self. From the beginning of the novel, Achebe depicts Okonkwo as a virile warrior and a successful farmer within the Igbo tribe. Reacting with violence to anything he considers “womanly” or “weak”, “He was a man of action and man of war” (10). Because of his reputation as a warrior he is highly respected by his community. Okonkwo’s values are restricted to physical strength, power, and prosperity, and when the Europeans suddenly arrive, the cultural convergence prompts Okonkwo to respond with even more violence. While the majority of his tribe, including his son Nwoye, is open to considering
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. Okonkwo uses these traits to differentiate from Unoka and he even feels most like himself when he exhibits violent behavior in order to assert his power and authority over others. Literary critic Christopher Ouma affirmed Okonkwo’s genuine intention to change how he is regarded in society.
Things fall apart, it’s in the name. Everything falls apart. And it is because of the arrogance of Okonkwo. He is a very interesting character because not only did he know he was being cruel to everyone around him but that he still decided to do it. We can see this with his “son” ikemefuna on page 28, it says, “ Even Okonkwo himself became very fond of the boy -- inwardly of course. Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness, the only thing worth demonstrating was strength. He therefore treated Ikemefuna as he treated everybody else--with a heavy hand. But there was no doubt he liked the boy. Sometimes when he went to big village meetings or communal ancestral feasts he allowed Ikemefuna to accompany him, like a son, carrying his stool and his goatskin bag. And, indeed, Ikemefuna called him father.” (Achebe 28). He loved him but still showed him his heavy hand because he didn 't want to come off as weak. Because of his arrogance he had become cruel to the boy he loved and in the end killed him out of misery. If we look at this scene we can see that he 's having an inward battle with himself, being strong was his main priority over anything else, even his own family. Even if he cared for them, he was conceited and cared about the opinions of others and what 'd they think of him. This ultimately led to his downfall when a cultural collision was evident and he couldn 't face it. His
Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Chinua Achebe. In the novel there is a main character called Okonkwo. He lived in Umuofia where he was also known throughout many of the nine villages around Umuofia. In the beginning of the story we see his overwhelming hatred towards his father Unoka. His father died about ten years ago and had not taken any title and was very much in debt. Unoka was described as lazy, improvident and not capable of thinking about tomorrow. From this Okonkwo was ashamed of his father and strives to be nothing like him. Okonkwo’s hatred towards his father has hardened his heart and has made him incapable of being a person of compassion and understanding throughout the novel. His hatred for his father has made him fear failure and weakness throughout the story. His fear of failure has brought him to his downfall.
Okonkwo devotes his life to becoming the opposite of his unsuccessful father. This need to become masculine introduces his fear: “But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of
His fear of weakness causes him to hurt those he loves, such as his wife and Ikemefuna, and to eventually kill himself. Okonkwo’s fear of being passive, a weak trait, is evident in the microcosm of his anger during the feast, when people do not work. His fear of weakness continues to grow when he is told that Ikemefuna must die, and so he chooses to be the one that kills Ikemefuna. Finally, Okonkwo’s fear of weakness becomes so great that he takes his own life, in order that he not be associated with people he views as weak. Okonkwo’s fear is his ultimate flaw. His fear leads him not only to lose his life, but also to lose the respect he tries so hard to
His fear of weakness and failure is derived from his father, Unoka’s failures, which ignite Okonkwo’s misogynistic views. Throughout his lifetime, Okonkwo associates femininity with weakness because of Unoka, who was called an “agbala” or woman by the people of Umuofia. Since women have this reputation for weakness, Okonkwo lives with constant fear that he will be given the same title as his father. Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye’s effeminacy reminds Okonkwo of his own father. He says, "I have done my best to make Nwoye grow into a man, but there is much of his mother in him ."(Achebe, 66). Therefore, Okonkwo asks Nwoye to quit listening to his mother's womanly stories and hear the tales of war. It is only when Ikemefuna arrives that Nwoye begins to behave masculine. After much training, Okonkwo is pleased with Nwoye’s changed behaviour and for this, he credits Ikemefuna. Okonkwo’s good friend, Obierika is a contradicting character – with a title equivalent to Okonkwo’s – with a completely different belief system. Obierika does not shy away from his feminine characteristics, just like Unoka, he is compassionate and gentle. With this mentality, Obierika lives a happy family life, while Okonkwo’s life is loaded with
Chinua Achebe’s 1958 literary classic, Things Fall Apart (Achebe, 1958), is renowned for its authentic account of the black African experience. Set in post-colonial Nigeria, the fictional novel discusses the cultural roots of the Igbos and follows the life of the tragic hero, Okonkwo. This acclaimed novel deals with strong patriarchal ideals of masculinity within the Igbo culture and how Okonkwo is a direct manifestation of this. Achebe depicts the relationship between masculinity and both male and female characters, and how this, in turn, has an effect on Okonkwo’s relationships. The strongest relationship in the novel is between father (Okonkwo) and daughter (Ezinma); their bond is strong because Ezinma is everything Okonkwo would want in a son. This affects and can also be seen as a reflection of Okonkwo’s other relationships between male characters, namely Unoka, Nwoye, and Ikemefuna. This essay will discuss how Achebe portrays masculinity in Things Fall Apart (Achebe, 1958), how the hyper-masculinized character, Okonkwo, receives and interacts with certain characters. I will also discuss how Okonkwo’s ridged patriarchal ideals of virility are counterintuitive with his actions and intentions of ensuring a masculine household.