The Importance Of Fear In Chinua Achebe's Thing Fall Apart

1086 Words5 Pages
Until the 1950’s most African literature was written by Europeans. Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian author, changed this standard in 1958, when he wrote Thing Fall Apart. In his novel, Achebe details the life of Okonkwo, an African man living in the village of Umuofia during the colonization of Nigeria. Okonkwo’s greatest struggle throughout his life and the novel is his fear of looking weak. His fear is apparent through his thoughts and actions. Okonkwo’s fear is present during the Feast of the New Yam, which act as a microcosm to the macrocosm of Okonkwo’s fear of passivity. His melancholy during the feast is due to the fact that people do not work during the time of the feast. Due to his fear of passivity Okonkwo beats his wife. Subsequent to the…show more content…
Okonkwo, unlike most of the Umuofians, is glum during the time of the feast. Achebe describes Okonkwo’s feelings. He writes, “But somehow Okonkwo could never become as enthusiastic over feasts as most people. He was a good eater and he could drink one or two fairly big gourds of palm-wine. But he was always uncomfortable sitting around for days waiting for a feast or getting over it. He would be much happier working on his farm” (29). Okonkwo does not enjoy the feeling of not working. He is more satisfied working on his farm, then “sitting around for days waiting for a feast or getting over it.” Okonkwo wants to look strong, and he feels as though the feast makes him look weak, because he must be passive and not work. Also, the activity of “sitting around” is one that is associated woman throughout the novel, and the feast celebrates the female god Ani. To Okonkwo females are the epitome of passivity and weakness. He resents having a female make him look passive and act like a women. In reaction to his fear of looking passive during the feast, Okonkwo takes extreme steps to look strong. Okonkwo beats his wife and even almost kills her, just for the sake of looking active. This scene represents Okonkwo’s struggle with feeling strong and active which is present throughout the novel. Okonkwo’s fear of passivity grows from this scene on and the…show more content…
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

More about The Importance Of Fear In Chinua Achebe's Thing Fall Apart

Open Document