“Then they came to the tree from which Okonkwo’s body was dangling, and they stopped dead” (Achebe 207). Western society negatively influenced Okonkwo, to the extent in which he had to commit suicide to avoid punishment. Okonkwo’s cultural collision shapes the meaning of the work as a whole because it highlights the dedication and sophistication of these under-developed tribes, which is what Chinua Achebe is trying to convey to the
Internal forces constantly chip away at Okonkwo’s sanity, threatening to destroy him. When the white men arrive at Umuofia, he believes that he must go down with a fight to prove the contrast between his father and him. As the story progresses, many people of the Igbo culture begin to question their religious beliefs in the face of Christianity, and Okonkwo’s certainty in the strength of the culture falters. One Igbo man declares, “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life” (207). Ironically, Okonkwo’s suicide parallels other cultural shifts in this time period; what once was forbidden becomes accepted with the arrival of colonists.
Consequently, he was a debtor who owed lots of cowries to many men. “After the death of Unoka, Okonkwo was ashamed to be the son of his father, because in his father’s lifetime, he didn’t take a title or even make a name for himself” (Achebe 8). Yet, the clan didn’t judge a man on the worth of his father, they judged a man’s worth according to his own actions. Unlike his father, Okonkwo was a wealthy farmer who had taken two titles in Umuofia. Furthermore, he had shown incredible prowess as a strong warrior.
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.
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is an important piece of literature due to its ability to convey a Culture Clash from the African view point, introduces a loveable character with a tragic flaw that motivates him to his death, and a culture that introduces the fear of many. Okonkwo shows how his fear lead him to dislike anything associated with his father; laziness, agabala, and lack of achievement. Eventually after the arrival of the missionaries Okonkwo soo felt the same about his culture and life. No one cared, but him. He was ignored like a messy room that needs to be cleaned.
At this point Okonkwo was done dealing with the Brits and lost all hope in saving his tribe or restoring order to the land. He killed himself as an act of cowardice and as a result of his personal actions. He believed that since they let other messengers escape that they would report to the District Commissioner and thus possibly put his own people in danger of ending up like the people in Abame. All conviction had left him and the British were the ones passionate and full of intensity of keeping order in the Igbo lands of Nigeria. Thus, the act of imperialism was done and the result was a civilization and people changed forever.
Fear was rooted at the basis of his masculine ideals, as his father, Unoka, the main source of his terror, was a failure in life, taking no title and often being described as a woman. Being constantly teased, Okonkwo lived his life, abhorring his father, hating everything he loved. Eventually, in Okonkwo’s life of hatred, he hit a road bump, taking his actions too far, as he beat his wife in the week of peace. “Inwardly, he was repentant. But he was not the man to go about telling his
Okonkwo killed his son. And with that remorse of doing so he begins his journey of self destruction. This is all he knows, to shut down and behave in such a manner where refusal to show grief is necessary for his growth. As mentioned earlier Okonkwo also beat his wives and children. Okonkwo was a damaged man who for fear of being seen to resemble any aspect of his father lived in anger; something Unoka seldom showed.
There are many different instances that shows Okonkwo being dishonorable. Even as early in the book as page 13, it states how Okonkwo was someone who was feared in his own household by his 3 wives and his children. Okonkwo had a “fiery temper” according to Achebe which led to him to explode in anger when ever there was something that didn't go his way. A perfect example of this was when Okonkwo broke the peace in the sacred Week of Peace “Okonkwo was provoked to justifiable anger by his youngest wife, who went to plait her hair at her friend’s house and did not return early enough to cook the afternoon meal… When she returned he beat her very heavily” (Achebe pg 29). That just shows how Okonkwo does not care about other people's needs and he expects his wives to only be at his service.
Introduced as strong and respected man, Okonkwo starts as such but throughout the book many of his choices lead him down a path of tragic events. He is part of Ibo society and culture, the native African culture of the story which praises strength and masculinity while dejecting vulnerability and femininity from its men. The overarching theme in the novel Things Fall Apart is that clinging to strong devotions can cause one’s life to fall apart, seen