Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart chronicles the life of an individual whose carefully constructed world crumbles as his culture is assimilated into a colonizing society. This character, Okonkwo, is prestigious within his community, and in most respects views himself and is viewed by his neighbors as an honorable man. Yet for all his seeming honor, Okonwko self-destructs when his world begins to change. Although the value system held by Okonkwo's village may differ somewhat from that held by other cultures, his particular experience during colonization is universal.
When Okonkwo defines himself as an honorable man and thinks back upon his life achievements that have made him so, he focuses most strongly upon his ferocity. He has "brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat" in a wrestling match (Achebe 3). Furthermore, his "impatience with unsuccessful men" causes him to "pounce on people quite often" (4). Although it is sometimes problematic for him, Okonkwo's violent and impulsive nature generally earns him great respect in his society. par tab Okonkwo's second most obvious trait is his "inflexible will" (24). This trait enables him to survive the year of the yam famine and build up his prosperous compound, despite his "grim struggle against poverty and misfortune" (27). Okonkwo becomes very proud, knowing that this success "was not luck." He thus believes that he controls his own fate: "Okonkwo said yes very strongly; so his chi agreed. And not only his chi but his clan too, because it judged a man by the work of his hands" (27). As a self-made man, Okonkwo has learned that he can attain his goals through ferocity, violence, tenacity, and stubbornness. His repeated successes have made ...
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...ten, to preserve their integrity to their self-image and heritage, individuals intensify their ethnic behavior in the face of obliteration. For many such as Okonkwo, this is a suicidal act, if not literally, then at least socially, politically, and economically.
Sources Cited and Consulted:
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Oxford: Heinemann, 1996.
Culross, Melissa. "Chinua Achebe and Things Fall Apart." Postimperial and Postcolonial Literature in English. Internet. http://landow.stg.br/ own.edu/post/achebe/ things.htm l.
Irele, Abiola. “The Tragic Conflict in the Novels of Chinua Achebe”. In ChinuaAchebe’s
Things Fall Apart: A Critical Companion. Delhi: Worldview, 2003.
Kortenar. Neil Ten, “How the Center is Made to Hold in Things Fall Apart”. In Chinua
Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: A Casebook. Ed. By Isidore Okpewho. Oxford; OUP, 2003.
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