Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

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Okonkwo is not all that he may seem; as there is more than what meets the eye. Okonkwo is the primary protagonist within the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo is a cruel yet kind man who has everything yet has nothing, which in turn creates a sympathetic character. A character such as Okonkwo has many facets; or masks if you will. Then we have his many influences: the Ibo culture; his father Unoka and of course his own personality. Then there is a staggering list of achievements. Okonkwo is a strong character but thinks only inwardly - especially towards his father - which will be discussed further in this essay.
As a child Okonkwo was neglected by his father and even later in his life did not speak with him - until of course his father was on his deathbed - this made his made him very angry. Okonkwo always saw his father Unoka as lazy. Okonkwo worked hard to remove any trace of laziness from his personality. He is an extremely persistent man and a hard worker. He is given seed yams and even when heavy rainfall causes the yams to rot he does not give up and he continues to try. He shows emotion inwardly and is extremely temperamental. As shown by the following quote Okonkwo still favors boys over girls and men over women. This is because they do the “masculine” tasks. “...If Ezinma had been a boy I would have been happier. She has the right spirit”(Achebe, 66); Okonkwo kept saying that he wished Ezinma was a “boy” and that she “has the right spirit”, which shows that he likes her but will not show these emotions, this and many other choices Okonkwo makes are due cultural influences.
Despite kind feelings, cultural influences betrayed him in the end. “Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was...


... middle of paper ...


... a rat when it was caught by the tail and dashed against the floor”(Achebe, 63). He refused to eat for two days straight and only drank palm wine. This shows that he felt he did something horrific and knew it was wrong, but only because society and culture dictated that he had to kill Ikemefuna. Thus, Okonkwo evokes sympathy within the reader because he is not only a product of society.
In the essence of his character, Okonkwo evokes sympathy in the reader only because of his many cultural and personal influences. These influences make him a product of society. Due to this he has lost much but also gained much. Okonkwo also thinks he is doing something to help when he may in fact being harming others. He has a conscious and regrets certain deeds. He punished himself after killing Ikemefuna. Therefore, Okonkwo is a cruel yet kind man who evokes sympathy in the reader.

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