Okonkwo tries to fight the changes made by the Western people. Okonkwo’s response to the Western people trying to bring Western ideas into the Ibo culture are simply trying to fight back at the Western people with violence. Okonkwo is a strong and fierce leader, but throughout the story, he is challenged by the Western people and the cultural collision because Okonkwo is supposed to be the leader of Umuofia. 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.
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.
In the book “Things Fall Apart“ Okonkwo is a very strong man and from time to time he starts showing his true self. He has a lot of responsibilities and other things he has to do around the living environment and interact with lots of people. Okonkwo changes from being that strong man, to a man who feels like his tribe is not with him when he wants to go to war with the missionaries. For someone like Okonkwo a lot of people looks up to him and while in the tribe Okonkwo beats his wives and children. Not good behavior for someone who is supposedly looked at as strong.
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.
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’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
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
Okonkwo just wants to be respected by his clan but being like his father isn’t going to get him respect. When Okonkwo killed Ikemefuna he felt bad and had a guilty conscious from that day on. He wouldn’t eat nor drink he would be too depressed to do anything. All he has been doing is worrying about Ikemefuna and how he felt bad. All he could do was to think about Ikemefuna , he couldn’t sleep nor walk.
“Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness (13).” In Things Fall Apart, Achebe portrays Okonkwo to be a very strong-willed, battle-loving personality. This shows that Okonkwo may not like war and battle for the violence aspect, but for the aspect of not showing fear, not backing down. “When Okonkwo heard that he (Ikemefuna) would not eat any food he came into the hut with a big stick in his hand and stood over him while he swallowed his yams, trembling.
Okonkwo is the protagonist, so it makes sense for him to demonstrate a lot of pride which he undeniably does. Okonkwo is constantly bragging and boastful talking about how many men he or Umuofia has killed and is constantly scared to be perceived as weak. An early example of this is in chapter 7 when Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna. He is advised by his elders not to go and just stay at home. But Okonkwo goes anyway, which leads to him killing Ikemefuna because "He was afraid of being thought weak.
He killed him because he didn’t want to be seen as weak or as a female. Another example is “Okonkwo didn’t taste any food for two days after Ikemefuna's death. ”(page 63) This detail is important because this shows the after feeling Okonkwo had after killing Ikemefuna. To wrap up, these pieces of evidence supports how the author critiques the dominant narrative about Okonkwo by showing him
The inability for Okonkwo to be weak makes him solely cruel and with a weak father like Unoka he felt forced to adapt opposite ideals. Chinua Achebe shows how Okonkwo had to make a life for himself as his father had not allowed for many opportunities for him to come in play. Later the author of the article, Psychology & Behavioral Health Vol.2 the author talks about the motivation that it takes to overcome and cope with the fears that prohibit him from growing and being he optimal version of himself. Fight or flight is described as a physiological
Okonkwo’s aggressive ways caused Nwoye to rely on Ikemefuna, A boy given to Okonkwo by a neighboring village, as an older brother who teaches him a more gentle form of masculinity. The bond between Nwoye and Ikemefuna was stronger than the bond between Nwoye and Okonkwo ever was because of Okonkwo’s refusal to demonstrate affection towards his son as it could make him appear weak. However, because of the death of Ikemefuna, Nwoye fears having to return to the harsh values of his father. Okonkwo’s stubborn ideas of masculinity ruined his relationship with his son beyond repair. Okonkwo’s refusal to show emotion towards his family pushed them apart which shows that Okonkwo is not willing to give up his stern values and reputation to be emotionally committed to his family.
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.