Life is a road with infinity paths, among these paths is change. The character Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was driven by the fear of losing himself in the whirlwind know as change. He needed the village of Umuofia, his home, to remain stuck in time because he measured his own self-worth by the system and the structure of Umuofia. Okonkwo required this order because of the ruined childhood, he had due to his father, their strained relationship, and this was the underlying cause for all his fears and drive for success. When the cultural and political structure of Umuofia changed, as it happens in society. Okonkwo was unable to adapt; the life he desired could not survive the collision with western culture, leading it to collapse.
It challenged his identity by losing his high title in the clan due to the change in the village as well as new customs. He responded to the clash of cultures by attempting to encourage others to fight in his mission to get rid of the Western influences in the Ibo community. Because he failed to do so, he lost hope and refused to accept the new culture which caused him to hang himself. The conflict between Okonkwo and his clan’s decision to change their way of living was portrayed through characterization and plot development. Achebe gives the people of Africa a voice with Okonkwo’s character who stayed true to his roots. In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe reveals to us Okonkwo’s response as the cultural collision of the English and Ibo challenged his sense of
However, beyond this manly display of strength and fortitude lies a man whose life is dominated by fear, a fear of being considered a failure. The main contribution to this fear is his father Unoka. When talking about Okonkwo, it is hard for Unoka's name not to come up, as he has been such a great influence and contribution to his personality, and the way in which he chooses to live his life.
Okonkwo is “a man of action, a man of war” (7) and a member of high status in the Igbo village. He holds the prominent position of village clansman due to the fact that he had “shown incredible prowess in two intertribal wars” (5). Okonkwo’s hard work had made him a “wealthy farmer” (5) and a recognized individual amongst the nine villages of Umuofia and beyond. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw isn’t that he was afraid of work, but rather his fear of weakness and failure which stems from his father’s, Unoka, unproductive life and disgraceful death. “Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness….It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father.” Okonkwo’s father was a lazy, carefree man whom had a reputation of being “poor and his wife and children had just barely enough to eat... they swore never to lend him any more money because he never paid back.” (5) Unoka had never taught Okonkwo what was right and wrong, and as a result Okonkwo had to interpret how to be a “good man”. Okonkwo’s self-interpretation leads him to conclude that a “good man” was someone who was the exact opposite of his father and therefore anything that his father did was weak and unnecessary.
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:
He has grown to detest all the things Unoka liked, and developed a strong will and exterior so he wouldn’t even flinch at bloodshed. His father was a coward that feared almost everything and was considered an agbala amongst others. Okonkwo had been personally affected by his father's underachievements by cause of children who taunted him at a young age. Unoka is also known to be the opposite of Okonkwo, or rather Okonkwo began to become the Unoka. “[…] Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood. In Umuofia’s latest war he was the first to bring home a human head.” (2.4). He is ridden by the internal conflict of the always caring of the opinions of others in the village. Okonkwo faces man vs. man conflict since he has to tackle his own perceptions of being an idol in the village. This is a fright that cannot be shaken off in Okonkwo's situation, since it;s been deeply embedded into his personality and how he is. Now that he is overflowing with pride of his high status in Umuofia, his standards are higher, it induces an even more self conscious Okonkwo.“[..] his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic“ (12). Okonkwo is able to tackle many obstacles with his power, but unfortunately there is no greater opponent than himself. His mind is always patrolling back on
Okonkwo was well known through out the nine villages because of his achievements in the tribe. Okonkwo had a great fear of becoming like his father. This had a rather large impact on his life and how his personality. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was a lazy man whereas Okonkwo was a hard worker, Okonkwo ruled his house with a heavy hand and he was a man of war.
Unoka, Okonkwo’s father was always seen as weak and womanly by Okonkwo, causing him to swear off everything about his father. By rejecting Unoka’s ways Okonkwo rejects the personalities of being easy going and kind, making him a very hard working and harsh man. Unoka was always in debt to the people in his village and even at the end of his life Unoka had not even taken the lowest of titles, this irritated Okonkwo for he “had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had not patience with his father” (2). Okonkwo could not stand how his father had lived his life that in his time Okonkwo refused to have anything to do with his father. His father had loved to make music and be merry with other people in which he would buy palm wine and invite friends
“With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, or even a young wife. But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father’s lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future” (18). Most of his accomplishments were despite his father, whom Okonkwo loathed, but with whom I connected. In the novel, I relate more to Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, a much more laid back character. Like Unoka, I am in love with life, lazy, not worried about tomorrow, and deeply in debt.
Moreover, Okonkwo paved his own way to success. His purpose is to outgrow the reputation of his father’s. Unoka, better known as Okonkwo’s lazy father, lived a useless life. Also, he’s noted to be insolvent. “It is a good in these days when the younger generation consider