Within the novels Things Fall Apart, written by China Achebe, and The Things They Carried, written by Tim O'Brien, characters are faced with their destiny. Howard Thurman once said, "Fate is the raw materials of experience. They come uninvited and often unanticipated. Destiny is what a man does with these raw materials." Fate is an inevitable event that is predestined for a person. One character from each novel is faced to deal with that fate. Both characters deal with this quite differently. Okonkwo, the protagonist in Things Fall Apart has the grueling memory of his father stuck in his head. This memory is part of the "raw materials" which brings him to face his destiny. Tim O'Brien, however, has the experience of war and death. His experience demonstrates how extreme circumstances, like war, can turn a rational person to a person who commits unthinkable and cruel acts. Both characters have extremely negative experiences which lead them to face their destiny head on.
Okonkwo is a character who strives to make his way in a world that he thinks values manliness. His greatest fear is becoming his father. He stands for everything portrayed as "manly". His father was a man of cowardly traits. He was poor and his main interest was music. Okonkwo labels his father as feminine. He associates masculinity with aggression. This is the main reason he tries to define himself as the manly man of society. He achieves great success in both social and financial perspectives. He marries three women and has a plentiful amount of children with each. He runs his household with fear. He frequently beats wives and even threatens to kill them. He is perceived as a powerful, wealthy and violent man. His whole outlook on the way he lives his life is based on being the opposite of his father. His experience with living with someone he was so ashamed of drives him to become a person of violence and authority. "But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father's lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father's contemptible life and shameful death" (Achebe, 18). Okonkwo is consciously opposed to anything perceived as feminine or soft. He struggles to be as different from his deceased father as possible.