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Okonokwa's Downfall in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Okonokwa's Downfall in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe has long been seen as a response to Christian colonial literature, which presents the African as a barbaric dark image. It is therefore ponder some that Achebe would choose to shed light on Africa by deconstructing and ultimately destroying his main character Okonokwa. Through examining Okonokwa and his character flaws and essentially the reasons for his downfall one may surmise that shedding light on the African plight was not Achebe's some message in this novel.

Okonokwa was a proud, industrious figure who through hard work was able to elevate himself to a stature of respect and prominence in his community. The one major character flaw was that he was a man driven by his fear to extreme reactions. Okonokwa was petrified of inadequacy namely because his father was a complete and utter failure. This fear of shortcoming made him hate everything his father loved and represented: weakness, gentleness, and idleness. Okonokwa became seized with the obsession of manliness in order to overcompensate for his father's "femininity" or gentleness. Therefore, Okonokwa 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." Okonokwa spent a great deal of energy attempting to suppress gentleness. He would discourage "women's stories" and would not commend his sons for a job well done because he felt this to be a sign of weakness. Instead, he ruled with an iron-fist and in his suppression of gentleness lent himself to violence. We see this when he is commanded by the oracle to kiss his "son" Ikefuma. Originally, Okonokwa falls back in the crowd so that he need not actively participate in his son's death; however, when Ikefuma runs toward him saying "Father they've killed me." "Dazed with fear Okonokwa drew his machete and cut him done. He was afraid of being thought weak." Okonokwa's devotion to manliness is an obsession that leads him to these incredible situations of violence and resistance with regard to the colonist and therefore is the reason for his destruction.
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