The Downfall of Okonkwo In the novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo’s tragic downfall is illustrated alongside the downfall of his clan. Okonkwo was, the protagonist, was borne with a father that was a pathetic, selfish man. His whole life was controlled by the fear of becoming what his father once was, and this showed who he truly was. Throughout the story, Okonkwo, who was once a great man, undergoes a dramatic change. He falls from the top of the clan to the bottom, having to deal with many conflicts along the way, the toughest being his own fears.
Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, follows the tragic life of Okonkwo, a man who suffers a miserable fate due to the fear of failure that controls every action he makes. Though the fear of failure acts as motivation to become a successful and respected man at first, it later cripples Okonkwo in such a way that failure ultimately defines his life. Okonkwo is constantly afraid of being a victim of weakness and desperately tries to remain a strong and unyielding man. It is his overwhelming fear of weakness that causes things to fall apart in his life, as his attempts to avoid failure and weakness eventually lead to the ultimate defeat: his shameful suicide. Fear of failure and weakness dominates Okonkwo throughout his life.
They created an internal fear of losing his worth and becoming like his father- weak and effeminate. Therefore, Okonkwo morphed into a man with a masculine personality and uncontrollable anger. Okonkwo’s flaws enveloped him and controlled his actions- he becomes resistant and unable to bend with the changes taking place in his village. In Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart, the main character Okonkwo self-destructs due to his internal flaws of fear, masculinity, anger and inability to adapt with change. Okonkwo strived to be unlike his effeminate and apathetic father who was referred to as “agbala” or "a man who had taken no title."
Okonkwo’s birthright was fear, fear that he would become like his father. His whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. The irony in the story is that Okonkwo’s life ends much like his father’s had ended. Both father and son died in ways that were considered appalling with Unoka dying from swelling and Okonkwo taking his own life. Okonkwo struggles to do everything differently than his father which results in Okonkwo bringing pain to his family, becoming an arrogant person, and ending his life in a way that is considered an abomination to the tribe.
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.
Okonkwo was sent away because of his fear for failure as he always wanted to be the best. This fear built up in him because when he grew up he saw his father becoming the coward that he was. He also built up the fear that he will not fail no matter what. His tragic moments come in the middle or rising action of the book and therefor the book comes alive. Okonkwo had bad chi (energy) therefor the smallest things annoyed him.
As the story progresses, conflict overwhelms him and leads to his downfall and the downfall of the Ibo culture. One part of the book that shows how the title is developed is when Okonkwo's character is introduced and explained to the reader. The author tells how he is shameful of his father and that he is belligerent and cold-hearted. Pointing out these flaws in Okonkwo's character seems to foreshadow his downfall. Since Okonkwo probably represents the 'intolerant culture';, that culture's downfall is also foreshadowed.
Fearful Flaw Okonkwo is the protagonist of Chinua Achebe’s story, Things Fall Apart. He has a calamitous flaw that dominates his life. His fear of failure and of weakness causes him to take unnecessary and destructive actions. His fear of weakness leads him to be emotionally distant from his children, beat his wives, kill Ikemefuna whom he loved, and the Commissioners messenger. His fear of failure causes him to disown his oldest son who did not meet his expectations, become well than his idle father, makes a comeback after exile, and keeps his property in check.
Okonkwo ultimately inflicts pain on himself when he kills the son he has a special connection with only to prove himself worthy of the clan. Okonkwo’s fear of not gaining complete approval from the clan causes him to force pain upon his loved ones. After witnessing Okonkwo’s irrational decisions, it is clear that this inclination can do more harm than good. Gaining acceptance is not only limited to Africans, but is a universal craving all humans have. Yet, pleasing everyone is a mere illusion.
There are many reasons as to why this is true. One major reason is, because of his many flaws, it causes Okonkwo to lose track of his path in life. Another reason is because he is portrayed as a negative character. These are just a few of the many reasons as to why Okonkwo is considered a tragic hero by many. Okonkwo’s first and most distinctive flaw is his fear of failure.