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Weakness is Looked Down Upon in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Throughout the book, Okonkwo is shown to be very headstrong and generally mean towards the majority of people he interacts with. He puts an overemphasis on the need to be manly, and this ruins some of the relationships that he is in. Okonkwo cannot tolerate laziness, and everything that he doesn’t do is deemed to be a female trait. Most of his life is dictated by his internal fear of becoming what his father was, a poor, lazy, “disgrace” of a man. From early on in the book, we see how his father affected his way of life. While his father sat idle and never had successful crops, Okonkwo was the exact opposite. Okonkwo became a very strong, wealthy and well respected man in the tribe. Along with the fear of becoming his father, Okonkwo has a problem with displaying his emotions to others. Since Okonkwo believes many emotions are feminine, he tends to act in very brash ways. This can be seen how he treats his family. He rules with an iron fist, almost dictator like, and even threatens their lives multiple times. Even though his outward emotions tend to be mean, deep down he still feels love and attachment like any other human being. He loves his daughter enough to follow after her when the priestess takes her, and he is shown to be genuinely worried about her safety. He also is shown to enjoy the company of his “adopted” son Ikemefuna. Even though he feels these emotions, Okonkwo always chooses to express the more masculine emotions. Lastly, Okonkwo is dedicated to his tribe, and follows all of the clan’s laws. He wants to be respected so he must do as the elders and ancestors before him have dictated as law. He takes every punishment that is doled out to him, and never questions them. He even leaves all he has for seven years because he shot a boy, which was not even his doing. Many things are falling apart in this novel, but Okonkwo’s life is the biggest. From the very beginning we see that he is going to be challenged. First he injures his wife during the week of peace, his daughter falls sick, and he is even kicked out of the tribe for seven years for something he couldn’t control. Okonkwo grew to fame quite quickly, and just as quick his whole life was ruined. Even in exile, he could not catch a break when his eldest son leaves him to convert to Christianity.
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