When Okonkwo was “angry and could not get his words quickly out enough, he would use his fists” (Achebe 2). Okonkwo’s violent personality traits cause him to make very irrational decisions that would later have future consequences. Despite that, his less than perfect tendencies did help him to achieve many goals throughout his life. However, the instances where they worked against him outweigh all other factors. Okonkwo is seen as a very painfully structured man and when something doesn't go according to his structure, it causes him to make irrational decisions.
However, Okonkwo was born to a poor man and certainly was not noble-born. Yet, Okonkwo displays abundant understanding towards the complications and willing to climb the ladder to achieve his success in his young age, which is other common trait in tragic hero. The advantage that he has is in Ibo society, they allow each man to earn their own titles without family inheritance so Okonkwo able to take this opportunity to create his own fortune separate from family bequest. In his young age he is able to have two barns full of yams and also three wives. He does not want to turn out to be just like his father poor, ignorance and nwaanyi (womanly in Ibo).
I will further explain more about the theme. In the beginning of the story, Okonkwo was a very vigorous man who everyone loves. One day a killing happened leaving Okonkwo with a wife and a son, Ikemefuna. He grew to like the young boy, where he is different from his other children, On a fateful day, Okonkwo murders Ikemefuna. Okonkwo had a load of guilt for killing his adoptive son, Ikemefuna.
Okonkwo is a sad character whose pride has constantly led him down the crooked path. Achebe shows that being proud isn't a constructive thing for the future. That development can only occur when pride is put aside, and people think logically instead of
Okonkwo’s worst fear was to be the kind of man his father was, so he tried his best not to let his fear become a reality. With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo didn’t get the start as most young men in the village; however, he worked his way to the position of leadership of the clan. There was only one emotion that Okonkwo showed, and it was anger. This was his only emotion because it was how he expressed his feelings. Okonkwo had to leave his fatherland, but after returning home, he found his home unrecognizable.
Okonkwo is supposed to fight back for his village and not stop until he gets it done. In the story Achebe quotes, “He was a man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood.” (Chapter 2). Okonkwo loved action and violence. That is how he believes things should get done.
Okonkwo was one of the most famous and fearful member not only of his clan in Umuofia but other nine villages as well. He worked hard to become a renowned and prosperous member of his clan and to break away from the legacy of his father Okoye who was referred to as ‘agbala’, a man who has not won any title and was another word for woman. Okonkwo was not an evil man but his life was dominated by fear of weakness and failure which made him extremely violent and aggressive. He hated everything associated with his father- music, gentleness and laziness. But much to the anguish of Okonkwo, Nwoye embodied most of his grandfather’s traits and this enraged Okonkwo deeply.
Okonkwo is more than just a violent and cold-blooded character. He cannot bear to see the execution, therefore, he does care about Ikemefuna and shows sympathy. However, when Ikemefuna turns to him, Okonkwo cuts him down. Okonkwo believes showing his affection to Ikemefuna and hesitating to kill him conveys that he is woman-like and weak, someone who is manipulated by emotions and fears blood. In dread of ruining his reputation, Okonkwo uses violence to show his strength and his masculine
Okonkwo’s motivations, character development, and interactions suggest that he is a byronic hero. Okonkwo's rambunctious outburst and defiance of the gods shows his arrogance. In the hero source “characteristics of a byronic hero” its states “In one form or another he rejects the values and moral codes of society..”. Okonkwo's’ arrogance is shown in chapter four when he was being described as “Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half way through. Not even for fear of a goddess.”(Achebe31).
Even though Achebe sets Okonkwo to his downfall, it is evident that Okonkwo is a great hero despite his rash behavior and temper. Generally, a tragic hero is born into royalty and has already attained the noble status. However, Okonkwo was born into a poor family, and according to Okonkwo his father was “weak and feminine”. Regardless his father’s failures Okonkwo acquires respect in the Igbo society by defeating a great wrestler: As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. (1) Okonkwo furthermore spends his hours toiling away in an attempt to earn his way up in the patriarchal society.