September 7, 2008
Things Fall Apart
In the novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe there is a tragic hero by the name of Okonkwo. Okonkwo’s life is driven by fear. “His whole life is dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness” (Achebe, p.13). It is this fear of failure and weakness that causes him to overcompensate. He becomes overly aggressive and manly, ignorant to other’s beliefs, and harsh to his friends and family. He acts this way to make everyone fear him and to think he is strong and mighty. These three character traits will be Okonkwo’s ultimate downfall in which he becomes an “abomination of the Earth (208)” by taking his own life.
Okonkwo sees his father become a lazy, incompetent person and is ashamed by his actions. His father is seen as a woman in their culture and that alone forces Okonkwo to become extra manly for himself and his father. “He had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the cat” (p.3). Okonkwo makes himself the center of attention, and when all eyes are on him, he wants to look manly. He has three wives and many children and that is one way to measure a man in their culture. Being to strong eventually kills him. He does not want to be seen as weak so he kills Ikemefuna and he hangs himself after cutting down a messenger.
Another character trait that Okonkwo retains is ignorance. He is ignorant to his downfall and does not see the harm he is doing to others and to himself by being the way his is. He thinks even after he returns from exile he will be revered as a hero. “He was determined that his return should be marked by his people (p.171)”. “He saw himself taking the highest title in the land (P.172)”. He always thought he would end up being the leader of his clan but he was sadly mistaken and he did not display the right characteristics to become a leader. Somehow, everyone around him always knew he would not bring honor back to...