Things Fall Apart by Chinua Okonkwo

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Okonkwo

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In the book Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo comes across as a tough, proud leader of the Umuofia clan. He is well respected and many people look up to him. He has strong beliefs regarding his village and he prioritizes the laws and the well being of the clan ahead of his own feelings. His father had an impact on his life that changed his mind set to feeling that he constantly needs to prove himself and his courage. Once the village is taken over by the white men, he takes his own life because he cannot bear to see his people forced to go against what they believe. He knows that if he were to live, being forced to follow beliefs that he did not agree with, then that would go against all he stands for. Okonkwo’s noble decision to end his life shows his courage and bravery because he will not let anyone change him or bear to see his village fall apart.
Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, is a lazy man who lacks the diligence that is needed to be a good father, husband and leader. As a child, Okonkwo was ashamed of his father. He knew that once he had a family of his own, he would do anything and everything in his power to stray from the bad example that his father had set. Unoka’s job is to provide for his family, but since he was unable to do so, his family had to face many struggles providing for themselves. Unoka abandoned his family when they needed him. He is a disgrace to them and a dishonor to the clan. Okonkwo faced struggles in his everyday live, when he needed to step up and take the responsibility that he father refused. Because he had experienced a live without a proper father, he promised himself that he would never get to that point and he would understand his obligations and do whatever he could to accomplish what was needed for his family and the Igbo people.


Okonkwo struggles with changes and he refuses to assimilate to ideas he does not agree with. Okonkwo is known as the most honorable and strongest warrior in the tribe. As the British come and attempt to take over, other men, including Okonkwo’s own son, have to help stand up to them.

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Okonkwo sees himself as the strongest of all the men because he fears weakness and becoming like his father. The Umuofia clan is becoming weaker and is unable to stand up against their enemies, because most of the men are giving in, rather than staying strong, like Okonkwo had done. His last hope in trying to keep his clan intact is to kill the messenger, but his tribesmen do not support him and they refuse to retaliate. He thinks it is a dishonor to his tribe to comply with the beliefs of the white men, so rather than living with dishonoring his tribe, he took his own life.
Okonkwo’s suicide is his desperate attempt to remind the Igbo people of their true values and background with the upcoming change that the white men will bring. It is a positive act intended to preserve their traditions that are close to being abandoned. Okonkwo can be seen as a martyr for the Igbo people, through his constant efforts to keep his people on track. Okonkwo is a proud man. He is proud of himself and of his clan. He does not want to loose all that he stands for, so he takes action into his own hands. If he cannot live devoting his life to his own beliefs then he might as well not live at all.
Okonkwo’s noble decision to end his life shows his courage and bravery because he will not let anyone change him or bear to see his village fall apart. He takes his life because he has lost his manliness and his place in his village, where beliefs values now stand. His suicide can be mistaken as a sign of weakness, but to die for something that you believe in, is a sign of true strength and courage. He did not kill himself because he was stripped of his manhood, but he killed himself because he refused to conform to the white men. His suicide is a sign of rebel against the British injustice towards the Igbo people. He killed himself to show them that they can take over the land, but they will never be able to control him.

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