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.
... his words that he committed a great evil; we live in peace with our fellows to honor our great goddess of the earth without whose blessings our crops will not grow. You have committed a great evil (Achebe 30). Okonkwo displays another fit of anger during the feast of the new yam, when he almost killed his second wife with a gun because she cut a few leaves off the banana tree to wrap some food. Without patience to discern her explanation; she was beaten mercilessly and almost got killed. Okonkwo lacked a sense of affection towards his family, which can be linked to his fear of weakness. He repudiates any show of emotion or patience in order not to appear weak. His household lived in a perpetual fear, he never gave them the opportunity to get close to him without been scared of him, and this really had a great effect with the relationship he had with his household.
Within the Obi tribe, Okonkwo is an important man, who has risen from nothing to a man of great wealth and social status. Okonkwo is obsessed with masculinity, and he has a very narrow view of “manliness”. Okonkwo's relationship with his dead father is the root of his violent and ambitious conduct. He wants to rise above his father's legacy of laziness, which he views as weak and therefore feminine. This drive and fierce pride made him a great man, but they are also the source of all of his faults.
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:
Things Fall Apart, a novel based on the cultures and the traditions of the Igbos depict a very strong sense of struggle between change and tradition. This story is somewhat an archetype of To Kill a Mocking Bird. Not just centered on sociopolitical views but also cultural and traditional beliefs, Achebe specifically defines each speck of this Eastern Nigerian culture, from the breaking of the “kola –a caffeine-containing nut of evergreen trees to the unmasking of the egwuegwu and spiritual sacrifices to the gods and ancestors. Kola, a very essential part of the Igbo culture is represented in so many ways; it signifies peace, blessing, wealth, abundance, and respect most especially. In this society, the contest for wealth, titles and success was very important, it was a great legacy to be left by any man. Okonkwo being the strongest and most powerful man in the village had more than set a standard in that village by conquering the greatest warrior of all time. He had a symbiotic relationship with his community, as much has he benefited from the community’s societal and cultural values, so did they benefit from his strength and will power to succeed.
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 Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is a tragic hero. Aristotle’s Poetics defines a Tragic Hero as a good man of high status who displays a tragic flaw (“hamartia”) and experiences a dramatic reversal (“peripeteia”), as well as an intense moment of recognition (“anagnorisis”). Okonkwo is a leader and hardworking member of the Igbo community of Umuofia whose tragic flaw is his great fear of weakness and failure. Okonkwo’s fall from grace in the Igbo community and eventual suicide, makes Okonkwo a tragic hero by Aristotle’s definition.
He was in great conflict with the ideas of the white men and the missionaries. Okonkwo saw that their beliefs had not only changed the daily life of the Ibo, but it also changed the people themselves: “He mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountably become soft like women” (Achebe 183). The author uses strong diction to compare the men before and after colonization. This quote also portrays Okonkwo’s opinion towards the cultural collision. He values strength and masculinity immensely because of his fear of appearing weak like his father Unoka. When he describes that the men of Umuofia changed to be soft like women, this shows how much he dishonors the Western ideas and how it has taken over the village. He made an attempt to get rid of the Western influence by urging the tribe to fight like men, but they refuse to. He was determined and still attempted to furthermore encourage the people of Umuofia to revolt against the new culture. He realizes that his attempts to return the village back to the way it was before were futile. He knew that Christianity was tearing his people apart, but knew he was incapable of making change to help his people. Okonkwo then starts to feel hopeless and abandoned by his clan, which causes him to commit suicide by hanging himself: “Obierika… turned suddenly to the District Commissioner and said ferociously: ‘That man was one of the greatest men
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.
The above passages were taken from the end of chapter three, part one. After finishing reading this book and then going back through it, I found these passages very ironic in regards to how the story eventually ended. Okonkwo believed that because he was such a fierce fighter, he could conquer anything life threw at him. However, it was his fierce, proud, fighting attitude that was his demise in the face of uncontrollable circumstances in the end. Okonkwo believed that war and brute fighting would fix everything. He was a proud and stubborn man constantly struggling to improve his standing in the tribal community. Okonkwo also had intense pride for his tribe and way of life. He believed it was the right way of life and not to be questioned. Everyone was supposed to fear war with Umofia due to their fierce warriors and greatness in battle. When the white men not only did not fear them, but openly threatened the tribal way of life, Okonkwo prepared to handle the situation the only way he knew how. He wanted to got to war against the new white invaders, chasing them from tribal lands and ending the threat of different ways of life.
Okonkwo wanted to become one of the greatest men in the Ibo tribe, but three unfortunate events occur bringing him closer to his end. Okonkwo 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. Okonkwo 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. Who was Okonkwo, well Okonkwo was a hero and also he...
As you see, Okonkwo was a deprived man after hearing about the whites expanding their beliefs and customs to Umuofia. Being unable to contain it, he had no choice but to give in. Okonkwo wanted to go to war and fight the invading Europeans, but he soon realized that he was the only one hungry for war. “I shall fight alone if I choose” (Achebe 201). Being the only one seeking for revenge, he had no choice but to behead the head messenger who was trying to end a clan meeting. Letting the other messengers escape, Okonkwo’s visual was the truth. “He knew that Umuofia would not go to war” (Achebe 205). Everything that he stood for was now distant. His once powerful and running clan was now weak and resistant to fight off enemies. What was the point to live when everything else had failed him and he could do nothing to resolve it? He struggled with the changes occurring in the tribe. He was known as a very strong and honorable tribesman, but when the whites arrived promoting Christianity and other tribe members began to change as a result, even his own son, he could not bear the change. While viewing the others as weak, like his father, he tries to remain strong against change however he is the only one. Killing the messenger was the last attempt to try and save the tribe from the influence of the white man. Seeing the others not join in his action, he loses hope and in desperation ends his life
Things Fall Apart is an attention-grabbing novel full of violence, aggression, and oppression. Its main protagonist Okonkwo, on the surface appears to be a true tribesman, and a revered leader with qualities that far surpassed many among his clan. However, the physical and psychological qualities of Oknokwos’ character mirrored an individual who was nothing short of a “king like” ruler and conquer. Okonkwo traits of being a self-seeking, abusive, and cold-hearted individual made him a man that preys on the weak and young, and people in general who falls outside of his definition of a man. Okonkwo character lacks many characteristics that represent real strength, disciple, and bravery as his life came to a disappointing demise reflective of the weakness he spent his whole life avoiding. Okonkwo character in all fairness fails to stage some real virtues of a true leader, but rather that of a ruler.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs,customs, and also a story about an identity confliction. There is struggle between family, culture, and religion of the Ibo tribes. It shows how things fall apart when these beliefs and customs are challenged and how a personal identity changes for a man. The novel concerns the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion throughout the villages of the Ibo ethnic group of Umuofia in Nigeria, Africa, his three wives, and his children. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo is internally challenged and slowly becomes someone that is no longer recognizable by his friends or his family. When Okonkwo faces change, his identity starts to fade.