I Am The Messenger

1231 Words5 Pages
Fear and Importance of Perspective

Within both protagonists in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, fear makes its presence known. In I Am the Messenger, Ed describes himself as one who has “no real career. No respect in the community. Nothing.” (19), living in a city that has “not a whole lot of prospects or possibility.” (12). It is only through accepting mediocrity throughout his life that Ed becomes too afraid of doing anything out the ordinary, leading to an uneventful lifestyle. Unlike I Am the Messenger, Okonkwo’s fear in Things Fall Apart is pinpointed to the disappointing actions of his father. Okonkwo’s upbringing by Unoka, an embarrassment who “was lazy and improvident...quite incapable of thinking
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Okonkwo is deeply ashamed of his fear, so he desperately compensates for it by being the opposite of Unoka. When his son Nwoye overhears Ikemefuna’s death and “bursts into tears… his father beat him heavily.”. Rather than viewing his crying as an innate human reaction, he interprets as a sign of weakness, a characteristic displayed by Unoka. In contrast, as I Am the Messenger progresses, Ed displays conscious efforts to master his fear in situations that test his boundaries. In the novel, Ed, who is mysteriously sent playing cards with the names of different addresses, becomes determined to find out what is happening at them. It takes him three nights’ worth of attempts to even “have the courage” (37) to visit the first apartment, where he discovers that every night, a drunk man comes home and rapes his wife. After a week of dread, Ed finally gains enough strength to enter the apartment, where although he finds himself unable to move as “the fear has tied itself around [his] feet and [he] knows there’s nothing [he] can do.”, he promises the family 's daughter that he’ll save them. A day later, Ed intercepts the drunk man returning home and is successful in scaring him leave town. Ed’s ability to not only accept his fear but to show efforts to overcome it shows his how important interpretation is. As Ed sees his fear as something he needs to overcome, he is able to challenge himself. This…show more content…
With Okonkwo, his detrimental decisions to control who Nwoye causes his relationship with Nwoye to deteriorate. When Okonkwo asks Nwoye to sit with him in his obi, Nwoye “was afraid of him and slipped out of the hut as soon as he noticed him dozing.” (44). Later, when Okonkwo realizes that Nwoye was at a Christian church, he angrily beats him as the values of the church did not connect with him, causing his only son to turn to exile. The biggest consequence of his fear is found during the concluding stages of the successful Christian colonization. In a reckless attempt to save the culture and the traditions he so carefully followed and excelled at to prevent association with Unoka, Okonkwo kills a Christian messenger. When he realizes the other villagers do feel the same way, Okonkwo kills himself, with his dead body “buried like a dog”(147). In contrast, Ed’s decisions to face his fears and put himself out there not only benefits others immensely, but himself. The playing cards act as the catalyst to action, among many things, Ed encourages people to attend a previously desolate church and repairs the bond between two brothers. Ed goes out of the way to learn that one of his closest friends, Marv, has an illegitimate child that he has never seen. Through his guidance, he reunites the family, and when Marv pushes his daughter on the swings, “Marv’s smile and the giant glass tears on his face are two of the most
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