Theme Of Manliness In Things Fall Apart

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When fear is in the driver’s seat, many lash out. In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, the protagonist, Okonkwo is fearful of change and being seen as unmanly. When these things are in question he physically harms his family and emotionally beats himself up. When change comes into his life he just thinks of the old ways. He is unwilling to change because in his mind the newer ways are womanly and cowardice. When his eldest son turns to the European Christians, this is the hardest blow to Okonkwo because this shows the people of the tribe that he cannot control his own family, which puts any of the possible positions into jeopardy. Interpretation of manliness and struggling to change are two major themes that relate to Okonkwo and the…show more content…
Crops are one of the most important areas where manliness is determined in the clan, specifically yams. To the clan the “Yam stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed” (Achebe 33). If a man could not produce yams or could only produce “womanly” crops, they were not respected and could not hold a position. This shows the clan’s definition of manliness is upon their gods. If the land or weather did not work in the favor of man they needed to sacrifice to whichever god that was preventing the wellness of the crop. Yams to the clan are manliest crop, but Okonkwo defines manliness slightly…show more content…
Because his father borrowed from others without means of returning, lived off of others, and never made a stable life for himself and his family, Okonkwo does the opposite in his life. Normally a son would inherit his father’s barn, but because his father was unmanly and “had a miserable harvest” (Achebe 16), “there was no barn to inherit” (16). Okonkwo “hate[d] everything that his father Unokoa had loved” (13) because all that his father did was weak. He makes a stable life for himself and his family by producing yams and stocking up his barn. Okonkwo’s idea of manliness is also more aggressive than the clan. When he is suggested to not take part in the killing of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo not only was there, but he “cut him down” (61) because of the fear “of being thought weak” (61). Whenever Okonkwo thought he or a member of his family was being thought of as weak, he would either beat them, physically, or himself, emotionally, up. He is more aggressive and intolerant of unmanliness because of the fear of becoming like his

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