Fear In Society In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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As the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” This is applicable to society today because it explains the role of fear in the crumbling of a society. In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, the Ibo people are victims of imperialism by the Europeans, and they learn to fear the invaders, as well as the change and assimilation that is being forced on the Ibo culture. The fear that the Ibo society has of the Europeans and the oppression they are causing is what eventually leads to the divide and downfall of the clan. Through the Ibo’s fear of white society, the main character Okonkwo’s fear of weakness, and the elders fear for the clan, Achebe demonstrates how fear in society can lead…show more content…
Okonkwo’s greatest fear was to be perceived weak like his father, and he revolved his entire life around separating him from his father 's attitude and legacy. The quote “... In his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness.” (5) summarizes Okonkwo’s motivation in his life. This quote supports the theme because Okonkwo’s fear of weakness lead to his irrational actions such as killing Ikemefuna, which turned some of the Ibo clan against him, including his own son. His fear of failure is what drove Okonkwo to kill himself when it became clear that he could not achieve his dream, which lead to the further falling apart of his clan by symbolizing the loss of hope. Right after Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna, which Obierika advises him not to do, Okonkwo begins to doubt himself, but immediately pushes the fear away, in denial. In the quote “‘When did you become a shivering young woman’, Okonkwo asked himself, ‘you who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war?’”(22), Okonkwo is trying to convince himself that he needs to be stronger, in order to continue his success. When Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna in order to try to conquer his fear, he went against Obierika 's advice. This conflict caused tension and disagreement between the two, leading to a further unraveling of the clan. Okonkwo’s fears and eventual loss of hope also lead to the elders being concerned for the clan, since they believe that the younger generation is not strong enough to handle the pressure and danger that the foreigners bring with
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