Things Fall Apart Essay Research Paper Okonkwo

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Things Fall Apart Essay, Research Paper Okonkwo, the main character in Chinua Achebe s novel Things Fall Apart, was a tragic figure. Though he strove to be a good, moral man, his fears and inflexible nature caused him to step out of line with his culture s definition of a good man. Every time he did so, he was in some way chastised or prodded back in the right direction, until finally he went too far and ultimately broke from his society entirely. Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. His father, Unoka, was a poor, lazy, gentle soul who was regarded by the clan to be a failure. He died without title and massively in debt. Unoka was never happy when it came to wars. He was in fact a coward and could not bear

the sight of blood. This did not sit well with Okonkwo. Even as a little boy he had resented his father s failure and weakness When Okonkwo matured, this resentment blossomed and caused Okonkwo to be ruled by one passion – to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. So Okonkwo hated gentleness and idleness, which he saw as weakness and laziness, and cowardliness and peace, which he drove out by becoming a harsh and domineering man prone to violence and war. [I]ndeed he was possessed by the fear of his father’s contemptible life and shameful death.” Okonkwo was a supremely rigidly minded man, and once he set his mind to something, allowed no deviation from that course. For example, “Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show

affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength. Even to his loved ones, he showed only this face, not allowing any sign of what he considered weakness to show through. He treated his family harshly, and had little patience for less successful men. Okonkwo was not a man of thought but action. Because he was not a man of thought, his actions were always the same. At one point, a clan member contradicted him at a kindred meeting which they held to discuss the next ancestral feast. Without looking at the man Okonkwo had said: This meeting is for men. The man who had contradicted him had no titles. That was why he had called him a woman. Okonkwo knew how to kill a man’s spirit. Everybody at the kindred meeting took sides with Osugo when Okonkwo

called him a woman.” This happened early in the book, setting up the pattern for the clan s reaction to Okonkwo when moves away from his societies ideal of a good man. Here, Okonkwo s offense is minor he is ungracious when contradicted in public by a lesser man and the clan s reaction is equally minor. Unfortunately, Okonkwo s nature does not allow him to change. He is the way he his, and will not admit that he is wrong. The next major incident occurs during the Week of Peace, a sacred time for the clan. One of his wives leaves to visit a friend, failing to cook a meal and feed her children, “And when she returned he beat her heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the

sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess.” He pays the fine for his offense against the earth-goddess, but shows only his harsh, warrior face. “Inwardly, he was repentant. But he was not the man to go about telling his neighbors that he was in error. And so people said he had no respect for the gods of the clan. Okonkwo again stepped outside the moral bounds of his culture, and again was chastised, this time with a fine and social stigma. Again, his harsh nature and inability to admit any sign of weakness caused trouble for Okonkwo. During the preparations for the celebration for the new year, Okonkwo grew restless and angry. He beat his wife for an imagined offense, then got his gun, … ran out again