Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Length: 941 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way. You become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, and brave by performing brave actions.” -Aristotle.

In Chinua Achebe’s famous novel, Things Fall Apart, the protagonist, Okonkwo, is proof of Aristotle’s statement. Although he is conceivably the most dominant man in Umuofia, his personal faults, which are fear of failure and uncontrollable anger, do not allow him true greatness as a human being. There are many reasons as to why this is true. One major reason is, because of his many flaws, it causes Okonkwo to lose track of his path in life. Another reason is because he is portrayed as a negative character. These are just a few of the many reasons as to why Okonkwo is considered a tragic hero by many.
Okonkwo’s first and most distinctive flaw is his fear of failure. Many people would agree that this flaw is driven by the fear of becoming his father, but Okonkwo takes this fear too far. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was known for being a very lazy and carefree man. He also had notoriety of being “…poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat.” (Achebe 5). A big tradition in Umuofia is having a father who is supposed to teach his children right and wrong. In Okonkwo’s case, these lessons had to be self-taught. Okonkwo had to commit to his own understandings of what defined a “good man” and to him that was the exact opposite of his father. Because of his fear to be seen as weak, Okonkwo even murders a child that calls him father. Ikemefuna was sent to live with Okonkwo because someone was murdered in a nearby village. An example of Okonkwo’s ill-hearted actions are shown in the following quote: “As the man drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. He heard Ikemefuna cry, ‘My father, they have killed me!’ as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.” (Achebe 61). The fact that he kills Ikemefuna shows that his reputation is more important than the life of a child. Okonkwo’s fear permits him to receive more respect from his tribe, but only because it inclines him to do better than anyone else.
Another of Okonkwo’s greatest flaws is his uncontrollable anger.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart." 15 Jul 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Importance of Weather in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay

- In this book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the weather plays a very important role in the lives of the Igbo tribe of Nigeria. The rain and or lack of rain demonstrate how much this tribe depends on the weather for their survival. It also affects them in several different ways such as their emotions, physical world, and the spiritual or religious world. The weather in this novel controls their crops and the river flow; which controls their food and water supply. They depend on adequate rainfall to help their crops to grow and for the river to be full....   [tags: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, symbolism, weath]

Research Papers
498 words (1.4 pages)

How the Tribe Changes in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

- Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe like any other novel has its changes and progressions. When the novel first starts out it talks about Unoka. Then it goes to his son Okonokwo who is the main character and who the book is mainly about. It then talks about Nwoye who is the son of Okonokwo. Another is Ikemefuna who has to live in this village because of a crime who his father commits. It shows how much the tribe changes during these years and how it affects the lives of these four men. First it starts out with Unoka....   [tags: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, changes, time, ]

Research Papers
554 words (1.6 pages)

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs and customs, and also a story about conflict. There is struggle between family, culture, and the religion of the Ibo, which is all brought on by a difference in personal beliefs and customs of the Igbo and the British. There are also strong opinions of the main character, Okonkwo. We are then introduced to the views of his village, Umuofia. We see how things fall apart when these beliefs and customs are confronted by those of the white missionaries....   [tags: Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe Essays]

Research Papers
2074 words (5.9 pages)

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

- Throughout History there has been a desire for main stream white culture to explore and expand to new areas with many different objetives in mind. Many were looking for new lands that had untold riches while others were spreading cultural or religious beliefs in an attemped to gain support for their beliefs. Some times this was a welcomed addiction to foreign societies bring them new technologies and ideas to improve there life. But it was just as likely that these new additions to their culture and society would have a negative effect causing many peoples lives to be changed for ever....   [tags: Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart]

Free Essays
1373 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on People Fall Apart in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

- People Fall Apart in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe    Karl Marx believed that all of history could be reduced to two tiny words: class struggle. In any period of time a dominant class exploits a weaker class. Marx defines a dominant class as one who owns or controls the means of production. The weaker class consists of those who don't. In Marx's day, the age of Almighty Industry, the means of production were factories. But as a literary theory Marxism needs no factories to act as means of production....   [tags: Things Fall Apart essays Chinua Achebe Essays]

Research Papers
1669 words (4.8 pages)

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay examples

- Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart The last chapter of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" concludes with the sentence: "He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger." This refers to the District Commissioner's chosen title for a book he has written that would have the African people, the Igbo tribe specifically, as the main subject. From the title itself, one can say that the writer has an unfavorable bias against his subject....   [tags: Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart]

Research Papers
1060 words (3 pages)

Essay on Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

- Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart "The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart." As the British colonized the areas of Nigeria inhabited by the Ibo, they brought with them their new religion of Christianity, which sought to overrun the traditional animist way of life that had endured in the area for centuries....   [tags: Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart]

Free Essays
485 words (1.4 pages)

Missionaries Are to Blame in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

- Missionaries Are to Blame in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart      The burden and calling to reach out and help others, enfold many people in society throughout the world. Rich or poor, young or old, black, red or white, the motive is helping those with a need. As Chinua Achebe points out in his book, Things Fall Apart, though there is the aspiration to lend a hand, it can sometimes become deadly, and even fatal to the lives of people. Although the missionaries try help convert the Ibo village of Umuofia to Christianity, their presence in Africa is harmful to the lives and culture of the Ibo....   [tags: Things Fall Apart essays Chinua Achebe Papers]

Research Papers
829 words (2.4 pages)

Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

- Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart    Okonkwo, as presented by Chinua Achebe in the novel Things Fall Apart, wished to be revered by all as a man of great wealth, power and control--the antithesis of his father. Okonkwo was driven by the need to exhibit utmost control over himself and others; he was an obsessive and insecure man. Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was "a failure," "a loafer," and "People laughed at him" (1426). This would bring great shame to any man as it did for Okonkwo. In Umuofia "a man is judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father" (1427)....   [tags: Things Fall Apart essays Chinua Achebe Papers]

Research Papers
962 words (2.7 pages)

The Power Struggle in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Essay examples

- The Power Struggle in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a powerful novel about the social changes that occurred when the white man first arrived on the African continent. The novel is based on a conception of humans as self-reflexive beings and a definition of culture as a set of control mechanisms. Things Fall Apart is the story of Okonkwo, an elder, in the Igbo tribe. He is a fairly successful man who earned the respect of the tribal elders. The story of Okonkwo’s fall from a respected member of the tribe to an outcast who dies in disgrace graphically dramatizes the struggle between the altruistic values of Christianity and the lust for power that mot...   [tags: Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe]

Research Papers
1198 words (3.4 pages)

Related Searches

Readers of this novel would agree that this flaw keeps him away from true glory. Although his temper has helped him achieve many things in life, it has also hindered his life. Okonkwo is extremely rough on his son, Nwoye. For example, when Nwoye overheard his father speaking of the death of Ikemefuna, he “…burst into tears, whereupon his father beat him heavily.” (Achebe 57). Okonkwo tries hard to force his personal views of what it means to be a real man onto his son. To Okonkwo, crying is womanly, which is why Nwoye was punished. Because Okonkwo is unable to control his anger, it eventually drives his son away. This makes Nwoye want to join what Okonkwo wants to destroy.
Another great example of Okonkwo’s uncontrollable anger is when he beheads the messenger. “He confronted the head messenger…in a flash Okonkwo drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless. Okonkwo’s machete descended twice and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body.” (Achebe 204). In this situation, Okonkwo’s hate and anger ultimately leads him to the messenger’s death. Although his hate and anger is authentic here, it is obvious that he is not able to control it, and an unconstrained temper does less good than harm.
After reading this book multiple times, I feel that hate and anger is a very damaging way to live one’s life. As said before, Okonkwo gains respect and power. However, it is gained out of fear. Okonkwo became haunted with the obsession of manliness in order to make up for his father’s “femininity” or “gentleness.” Therefore, Okonkwo only allowed himself to display the emotion of anger. He strongly believed that “affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.” (Achebe 28). Okonkwo spent an immense deal of energy attempting to abolish gentleness.
I believe that Okonkwo is just a complex character who simply got caught up in his own flaws. To him, these weren’t considered flaws, which initially caused his downfall. As wrong as it was, Okonkwo was expressly being himself. I also believe he should be considered a typical tragic hero. Even though the author, Chinua Achebe, portrayed Okonkwo as a negative character, he was mainly a symbol for the entire community. I feel that one can’t help but feel sympathy for this unfortunate character.
Although I feel sympathy for Okonkwo, I most definitely do not admire him as a person. Understandably, he lived a hard life. With a father who was a careless failure, he shouldn’t be blamed for wanting a better life. However, I think that there could have been other ways in which he could have expressed himself. Also, I don’t think he had to commit suicide in order to “make everything go away.” I don’t feel that the District Commissioner drove Okonkwo to kill himself. I conclude that anger creates fear, which creates power, power that is easily taken away from change. Okonkwo was not able to realize that, so his life was lost.


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 1959. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publishing Group, Inc., 1994.
Return to