Famous French fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine, astutely stated, “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” People, both in real life and literature, seal their fate through their own actions. The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe captures the cultural life of the Igbo people before and after the influences of British colonialism by focusing on a representative hard-working character named Okonkwo. The Igbo believed that Chukwu, lesser gods, ancestors, and their own personal gods were responsible for determining the destiny of one’s life. Through proverbs regarding motivation, achievement, and respect, Achebe communicates that destiny must eventually be accepted.
Achebe utilizes proverbs concerning motivation to illustrate the concept that destiny must eventually be accepted. The proverb “As the elders said, if a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings” (8) is the first to prove this concept. The proverb implies that motivation is important to successfully achieve a goal. No ordinary child would eat with kings; therefore the child must have motivation. Since it is referring to Okonkwo, it shows that Okonkwo was truly motivated and successful since he “had clearly washed his hands and so he ate with kings and elders” (8). The additional praise “if ever a man deserved his success, that man was Okonkwo” (27) suggests that Okonkwo believes that he can control his destiny. People are motivated to succeed and are also motivated by success. Okonkwo’s destiny seems to coincide with the prosperity of his village. However, at the end of the novel, things seem to have “fallen apart” (176) and Christian missionaries divide the village. Since Okonkwo finally realizes that he has no control ov...
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...t should not forget to be humble” (26). The proverb means that one should remember to be demure because they are nothing compared to the controllers of their destiny. The man who has become successful due to his destiny should be grateful. Okonkwo believed that “he had cracked them himself” due to his “grim struggle against poverty” and hard work (27). This goes against respect and implies that Okonkwo rejects the concept of immutable destiny. Yet his own hard work came from his fear of his father’s qualities, and his father was the way he was because of his destiny. Okonkwo’s father chose to accept his destiny of being perpetually indebt and having “taken no titles at all” (8), as seen by the numerous opportunities he had to change his ways. Since Okonkwo was destined to have Unoka as his father and become who he was, he accepted his destiny by working hard.
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