Okonkwos’ Tragic Life
Okonkwo, in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, was faced with many hardships in his life. When growing up he had to deal with a lazy father, then when he was older he had to kill a boy that called him father, and he also accidentally killed a young boy from his village. These events played a very tragic role in Okonkwos life.
Okonkwo’s father Unoka “was lazy and improvident was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow.” Unoka owed everybody money and whenever he had money he would spend it on palm- wine.
Okonkwo’s true nature was clearly only reflected around those he closest to him, many times only under intimate or special circumstances. As his true masculinity, his unrealised and under expressed fondness for those he loved, and his overly expressed fiery temper, was shown to the greatest extent only around those closest to him. This deeply developed the character, and heightened the sense of Okonkwo being a tragic hero in Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart.
Okonkwo is the main character within the book, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo is an individual whom has many different personalities that are portrayed in different situations. He can be a nice and welcoming individual but also an abusive and harmful individual. Before returning to Umofia, in which the missionaries had invaded, Okonkwo had grown up upon resenting his father’s laziness, devoting his time in proving that he was much better than his father. That he was more respectable and masculine. These were qualities in which Okonkwo’s father had lacked. Upon reaching Umofia, Okonkwo becomes more passive than he has ever been. While watching in sorrow and grief of the coming of the missionaries as he is unable to anything about. The missionaries had turned Okonkwo into a completely different individual. Changing him for the worst.
Okonkwo, a fierce warrior, remains unchanged in his unrelenting quest to solely sustain the culture of his tribe in the time of religious war in Achebe's book, Things Fall Apart. He endures traumatic experiences of conflict from other tribes, dramatic confrontations from within his own family, and betrayal by his own tribe.
In another part of the story, Okonkwo is banished from his fatherland. This incident is the first where he is punished greatly for his actions. It marks a turning point in Okonkwo's downfall, and therefore the downfall of the traditional culture that he stands for. His hopes and aspirations are almost forgotten while he is away from Umuofia, and he desperately tries to regain his status when he returns. During this period of time, Okonkwo also discovers that his son has converted to his enemy's ways and beliefs. He abandons his son, and doesn't want to be his father any longer. This shows that his relationships with family and other people are beginning to 'fall apart';.
In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is an extremely complex character who experiences a variety of emotions which he has a difficult time controlling. He experiences a never ending battle of psychosomatic symptoms, starting with his obsession over the conflict of the past with his father, Unoka. Okonkwo portrays himself as a heroic, strong warrior, only to mask the feelings of intense anger, fear, and selfishness that provokes him, which inevitably leads him down the same path as his father. He feels a strong hatred towards his father because he believes that his father had no masculine qualities, he owed everyone money, and owned no titles. Achebe states:
Okonkwo is on two ends of a stick. Sometimes he can be shown to be a caring, sympathetic character, but others he is shown as a ruthless person that is very unsympathetic person. Okonkwo is a man of action that would rather solve things with his fists rather than talking it out. He is a great wrestler hailing from the Umuofia clan that has thrown Amalinze the Cat. Okonkwo is also a very good farmer, where he has been able to grow two barns worth of yams. He is someone that doesn’t know how to control themselves when they get angry as he will then resort to violence. Okonkwo’s family relationships make him a sympathetic character because of his caregiving nature and hospitality and he is shown to be an unsympathetic character because of his
The character of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was driven by fear, a fear of change and losing his self-worth. He needed the village of Umuofia, his home, to remain untouched by time and progress because its system and structure were the measures by which he assigned worth and meaning in his own life. Okonkwo required this external order because of his childhood and a strained relationship with his father, which was also the root of his fears and subsequent drive for success. When the structure of Umuofia changed, as happens in society, Okonkwo was unable to adapt his methods of self-evaluation and ways of functioning in the world; the life he was determined to live could not survive a new environment and collapsed around him.
Throughout the entire novel of “Thing fall Apart” by Achebe’s we can see how the main character called Okonkwo became the strongest person in the village of Umofia. Okonkwo did so many things in the village that make him a great warrior among his friend and the member of the Umofia. Okonkwo is a guy who likes strong people because he thinks they can accomplished what they want through they boldness mind, and that is why Okonkwo don’t get along with his father because he always see his father as a weak person. The act of commit suicide of Okonkwo is when he came back to his village Umofia, Okonkwo notice that things are change in the village under the colonialism and that pissed Okonkwo off because he think that the village should not allow white people to control their village or their culture. Okonkwo realizes that his village has changes in three ways which is, religion, government and economic. All this affect Okonkwo life, he doesn’t know how to couple with the new change.
Okonkwo is often described as being similar to characters in Greek tragedies. Okonkwo knew that the end of his clan was coming, and that they would do nothing to prevent it from happening. He took his life out of desperation. He had struggled his whole life to become a respected member of his community, and suddenly his world is turned upside down and changed forever because of an accident. Okonkwo sees that he is fighting a losing battle, so he quits. Suicide was one of the biggest offenses that could be committed against the earth, and Okonkwo?s own clansmen could not bury him. Okonkwo?s death symbolizes the end of patriarchy in Umuofia. The last page of the book is from the point of view of the white Commissioner, who notes that he wants to include a paragraph on Okonkwo?s life in his book entitled The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of Lower Niger. Okonkwo?s struggles, triumphs and defeats are all reduced to a paragraph, much like his culture and society will be reduced.