Depiction of Masculinity in the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo depicts his masculinity in many different ways, even if it hurts the people closest to him. He feels it is necessary to display his manliness so he does not end up like his father Unoka. “He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father” (4). Okonkwo correlates virility with aggression and feels the only emotion he should show is anger, leaving him no way to cope with the death of his culture. Okonkwo associates many of his tribal influences with masculinity. Right away in the book, Achebe affiliates strength with manliness. “As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalizine the Cat” (3). He is honored because he had enough strength and agility to overthrow the cat. Okonkwo feels to be successful and manly, one also must show no emotion. He thinks emotion is for the weak and for woman, and he does not want to be either of those. “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” (28). Okonkwo treats Ikemefuna with this idea. He becomes very fond of the child, but never outwardly shows his affection. If he showed his affection he was afraid he would be looked down upon in his tribe. Although his father enjoyed little things like music and dancing, Okonkwo had no desire to share his father’s enjoyment. He desired power and wealth. He wants to construct and maintain a big house for his many wives and even more children. “Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things. He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of ... ... middle of paper ... ...uble-crossing his own people like the rest of the tribe starts to do. “Everybody in the assembly spoke, and in the end it was decided to ostracise the Christians. Okonkwo ground his teeth in disgust” (159). Okonkwo’s inability to change and cope with his feelings ultimately made him the woman in the end by killing himself. Okonkwo’s ideas of masculinity, family values, and his sense of male duty are very antiquated and traditional. When new ideas are presented to him in the form of European religion and culture, Okonkwo, along with many others, fails to open his mind to the change and refuse to compromise. Thus, there is conflict and a shattering of clan values and relationships that have lasted for generations. Neither group is willing to compromise its ideas or philosophy, and thus by the end of the novel it is evident that the clan has been irreversibly altered.

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