Theme Of Masculinity In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Throughout the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, there are many references to the protagonist’s necessity to be recognized for his masculinity. Okonkwo, the protagonist, despises his father for his unsuccessfulness, and Okonkwo is motivated to become a prosperous man. His fear of being weak determines his actions in difficult situations, which causes an internal conflict. Eventually, this fear overwhelms Okonkwo, and he commits suicide. Okonkwo’s desire to be masculine in opposition to his father creates an internal conflict established in his fear of being thought weak, which ultimately leads to his death.

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
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When Ikemefuna runs towards him, “Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (Achebe 13). Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna because he is afraid someone will believe he is weak and similar to his unsuccessful father. He lets this fear of compassion and failing control his life and his decisions. When he is faced with a difficult choice he completes the action that will portray him as a man and not as an agbala, a woman. Killing Ikemefuna shows that Okonkwo does not have absolute control over his emotions. As he sits in his obi afterward he is sad and defeated: “Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna” (Achebe 63). Killing someone close to him causes Okonkwo to fall into a deep state of depression. Starving himself because of his grief reveals that he has succumbed to his fear. Okonkwo has committed his life to avoid a situation that causes him to appear weak, but refusing to eat outwardly demonstrates his pain and sorrow of killing the boy that called him father. This illustrates his internal conflict of either displaying strength or displaying
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