Okonkwo fears being seen as a weak man, by Nwoye proving he is weak, Okonkwo begins to fear his son will destroy the image he has worked to create for himself. Thereby causing others to perceive him as weak. The author wants the audience to draw comparisons between Nwoye and Okonkwo. Nwoye is a direct contradiction to Okonkwo’s visual of what a man should act like. When Nwoye struggles to control his emotions, he resorts to crying, a harmless act, while Okonkwo resorts to violence to
Achebe writes, “ Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (Achebe 63). Many other members of the tribe would have let their son be killed because of the unwavering faith many have in their religion and the decisions of the elders. However, not many would do it themselves. This scene truly showcases Okonkwo’s fears.
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.
Okonkwo constantly struggled to create the same masculine character in Nwoye that he made for himself and constantly found a reflection of his effeminate father, Unoka, in Nwoye. Chapter two describes the relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye in Nwoye’s youth. “Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye, was then twelve years old but was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness... He sought to correct him by constant nagging and beating” (13-14). Okonkwo’s efforts to change Nwoye’s resemblance of Unoka were causing their relationship to be pushed apart because of Okonkwo’s violence and Nwoye’s resistance.
Okonkwo’s actions sometime make him sympathetic. They make him sympathetic because his father and one of his wives and sometimes other characters in the story. They usually make him lose his temper and I understand why he loses his temper. The reason why Okonkwo’s family relationships make him sympathetic is because they usually give him a reason to lose his temper. A character in the story that he can not stand is his father Unoka.”
Okonkwo starts to scorn Obierika for not coming to kill Ikemefuna. Obierika then said that Okonkwo shouldn’t have gone. What Okonkwo did is the type of deeds that the gods punish. It is against their traditions to kill a kinsmen. Okonkwo shows up for the negotiation of the bride price.
Life takes unexpected turns and with those unexpected turns, we find out more about ourselves and eventually become an individual with our own ways of thinking. Nwoye is one of Okonkwo’s children who Okonkwo considers a pessimistic feminine and very much like his father, Unoka. As a child, Nwoye is the regularly victim of his father’s criticism and seems to be always emotionally displeased. Achebe depicts Nwoye as a gentle child who prefers to listen to the stories that the women of the Ibo culture tell, then the bloody war stories that Okonkwo and the men of the village tells. Nwoye has different beliefs than that of his father and fellow villagers.
His fear of weakness and failure is derived from his father, Unoka’s failures, which ignite Okonkwo’s misogynistic views. Throughout his lifetime, Okonkwo associates femininity with weakness because of Unoka, who was called an “agbala” or woman by the people of Umuofia. Since women have this reputation for weakness, Okonkwo lives with constant fear that he will be given the same title as his father. Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye’s effeminacy reminds Okonkwo of his own father. He says, "I have done my best to make Nwoye grow into a man, but there is much of his mother in him ."(Achebe, 66).
Okonkwo was also going through struggles of self-identity, and because of it he regrettably took part in killing Ikemefuna. This action broke Nwoye permanently, only strengthening the distance between him and his father. He saw the late Ikemefuna as a brother and a person he could look up to, he felt a feeling he had felt only one time before when he heard twin babies wailing in the Evil Forest. He never appreciated the violence that was embedded in the culture of his clan, but instead loved the stories meant for women. As a young child, Okonkwo would tell his sons stories of violence, and to stop the beatings he would receive for sharing his thoughts on them, Nwoye pretended to enjoy them.
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.
As a child, Nwoye is the frequent object of his father's criticism and remains emotionally unfulfilled. Okonkwo, “wanted Nwoye to grow into a tough man capable of ruling his father’s household when he was dead and gone to join the ancestors”(38). When Nwoye finds out that it is Okonkwo who killed a “brother” who he is extremely fond of, and grows very close with, he loses all appreciation for Okonkwo and decides to go against his father and his cultures.
Okonkwo is a very well-respected and independent man in Umuofia due to his titles and hard work. Even though he seems put together and stern, his life is dictated by fear. His fear of becoming like his father led him to helping in the murder of Ikemefuna, beating his wives and children, and disowning his oldest son, Nwoye. As a main character, Okonkwo remains pretty much the same throughout the book, his biggest issue being his inability to have compassion. Who might he not have compassion for and why?
Fear is the core cause of the dramatic shift of lifestyle for both Okonkwo and Nwoye. Through the management of reputation and the avoidance of their father’s likeness, Okonkwo and Nwoye built new lives for themselves. Okonkwo sought power and authority to prove his masculinity and make up for Unoka’s reputation as a weak man. He did this to the point where manliness became his character. Fearlessness and violence were masculine qualities that in Igbo culture signifies strength and influence.
One of the characters in the story is Okonkwo, who is one of the main characters of the story. Okonkwo resided in a manly and violent clan. He thought very little of the people with no titles, for in his mind the men were failures. Okonkwo was a very presumptuous, manly, and headstrong man. Who doesn 't want to be like his father, Unoka, who, in Okonkwo’s mind was a failure.