In the novel, Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is a sympathetic character and unsympathetic character in regards to his family relationships with his adopted son, Ikemefuna, his daughter, Ezima, and his father, Unoka, as a result of he appears to genuinely care about his family; but, the pride within himself prevents his expression of such pride and concern openly.
Ekwefi loves her daughter with all her heart, she is a devoted loving mother. After all her tragedies with the babies she has lost, she becomes more attached to her only surviving child, Ezinma. Being a mother is the best thing in the world for her, the attention she gives her daughter is amazing, she cares about her daughter more than herself. Ekwefi and Ezinma have a strong bond that can not be broken. Ekwefi, even though she knows Okonkwo would be furious, would steal eggs and eat them with her daughter in the bedroom behind closed doors because they were Ezinma’s favorite. The two also trade folk tales through the night, like the story about the torious. Ekwefi has so much love for her little girl that she
African society, influenced by its traditional economy, held strict gender roles, and Ekwefi stayed in the home and focused on traditional female tasks. Although African American society in the twentieth century prized women and elevated females to powerful matriarchal positions in the family, pre-colonial Nigeria in no way tolerated women outside the bounds of the home. Ekwefi lives “in perpetual fear of [Okonkwo’s] fiery temper,” and pours herself into raising her daughter, Ezinma (Achebe 13). Because Okonkwo fails to respect the religious customs and “beat” his wife “very heavily” during the “Week of Peace,” others in clan lose respect for him and his family, and Ekwefi can do very little to change this (Achebe 29) . To deal with her husband’s inadequacies, Ekwefi pours herself into Ezinma and raises her to exhibit strength and bravery. Because Okonkwo and traditional Nigerian society hailed masculinity as supreme and despised femininity, Ekwefi knew that in order to appease Okonkwo’s anger, she must raise her child to exhibit these characteristics, despite her gender. Her strategy proved successful, as “Okonkwo was specially fond of Ezinma,” but only showed his “fondness on very rare occasions” (Achebe 44). Furthermore, Okonkwo repeatedly states that Ezinma “should have been a boy,” (Acehbe 64) because he loves her, but continually
Okonkwo treated his son and daughter very differently. The child-father relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye was a distant and strained one while Okonkwo exhibited another type of feeling towards Ezinma which is filled with care and concern. This was due to the fact that Nwoye “was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness” whereas Ezinma was thought to have the “right spirit” and “alone understood [Okonkwo’s] every mood”.
Ekwefi is the second wife of Okonkwo. She was once known as the beauty of the village. Ekwefi loves the sport of wrestling so much that she had left her late husband to marry Okonkwo. Even though she has not had the best experiences in her past, which is full of loss and bitterness. This makes her a strong woman, capable of withstanding much pain and disappointment. Which is a perfect example of how she defies the single story? Sure women in Umuofia are thought to be just used for children, but she does much more than just that. Out of all of Okonkwo’s wives, she is said to be the one to tell him what is up and how he should be changing. For example, Ekwefi is stronger willed Ekwefi has given birth to 10 children and the only one to survive is her single daughter, Ezinma. Being the only to survive Ekwefi is very connected to her. They don’t have a normal mother-daughter relationship like most do. These are reasons why Ekwefi defies the idea of a single story.
According to Achebe, the main character detested his father at a very young age, “Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala.”(28) The Igbo tribe in Things Fall Apart uses the term an “agbala” which is used to describe “woman”. Okonkwo considered his father to be weak, effeminate, poor, disgraceful, and always in debt to his fellow tribes people. Okonkwo’s life revolves around the deep fear of becoming a failure and adopting the image of his father. Due to this self rooted perception of failure there are indications that he tries to rise above his father’s legacy.
18. Why is Okonkwo disappointed with his son Nwoye? What values does Okonkwo associate with manliness? How does Nwoye relate to these values? Compare Okonkwo’s attitude toward Nwoye to Okonkwo’s attitude toward his daughter Ezinma (presented in Ch. 8).
Okonkwo’s Uncle, Uchendu, preaches , “ But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland… And that is why we say mother is supreme.” (134) This is saying that women are loving and sympathetic. Achebe’s diction such as sorrow and bitterness gives a better image of the severity of the problems that women help with. Also, by calling mother’s supreme, the readers learn that mothers are revered for their love and sympathy. This quote shows that feminine characteristics are being loving and sympathetic and masculine characteristics are the opposite. Another feminine characteristic is devotion. The readers see devotion in Things Fall Apart through Ekwefi, Okonkwo’s wife, when Chielo took Ezinma, their daughter. Devotion is shown after Chielo picks up Ezinma and “Chielo began once again to chant greetings to her god… The two voices disappeared into the thick darkness… “Where are you going?” he[Okonkwo] asked. “I am following Chielo,” she[Ekwefi] replied and disappeared in the darkness.” (103) Chielo took Ezinma for some reason and Ekwefi went chasing after Chielo because she is worried what will happen to Ezinma. This shows that Ekwefi is so devoted to her daughter that she is willing to cross
Okonkwo abides by the rules of masculinity long after it suits his life. Okonkwo thought women we inferior to men. During the Week of Peace, Ojiugo lied to her husband; in the novel it states, “And when she returned he beat her very heavily” (Achebe 29). Okonkwo’s anger took over him. His vision of himself was so great that he thought he could beat his own wife, even during the Week of Peace. Okonkwo’s favorite child would be Ezinma, but she cannot be as great as he would want her to be because she is a female. Okonkwo openly said, “She should have been a boy” (Achebe 64). Okonkwo thinks that his daughter is great, but because she is not a boy he can not admire her. He thinks she would have been better a boy because, in his mind, he thinks men are greater beings than women. Okonkwo cannot wait for his son Nwoye to grow up and be as great of a man as he was. The novel states, “He wanted Nwoye to grow into a tough young man capable of ruling his father’s household when he was dead and gone to join the ancestor” (Achebe 53). Even though Okonkwo likes Ezinma, he thinks Nwoye will keep his legacy going after he is dead. Ironically, Nwoye leaves his father’s side and joins the missionaries, while Ezinma stood by Okonkwo’s side. The reasoning for Okonkwo’s exile was due to Okonkwo shooting a young boy
Since the women of Umuofia are raised to follow men, Ekwefi must fall into this category. However, Ekwefi is not a typical woman in this culture. She has more strength and ambitious will, as shown in the examples above, than any other woman in Umuofia. She does follow Okonkwo, but she does so with her own sense of self-regard. This must mean that Ekwefi does follow traditions and customs of the tribe, however, with her own falsifiability. According to this idea, this would also mean that after Okonkwo committed suicide, Ekwefi no longer had anything to follow. She was forced to build on her free will in order to find herself and understand how to continue living seemingly alone in a changing tribe. By doing this, Ekwefi has become even stronger, showing that the new culture impacting the village of Umuofia has impacted her
Okonkwo’s participation in the slaying of his adopted son, Ikemefuna is a pivotal moment in Things Fall Apart. It is a moment of horror that cannot please Ani, the great earth goddess, the center of community, the ultimate judge of morality for the clan. It is a moment that changes the course of events, a moment eerily paralleled in the death of Ezeudu’s son. It is a moment that ultimately causes Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye’s to abandon his ancestors and become a Christian. It is a moment when the center of community life, the need to honor blood ties and the need to respect the earth goddess, can no longer hold. It is a moment when things fall apart.
In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the Igbo’s way of marriage is vaguely defined throughout this universal book. For the Igbo men it is not uncommon to have more than one wife and many mouths to feed. For Igbo women it is normal to not receive a lot of affection, if any at all, from their husbands. Why is this?
When we think about a European colonialist world view it is often based on judging a society by two major assumptions. These assumptions are the idea that other societies are filled with violent people without manners, and that their religious practices are a hedonistic affront to their own religion. These assumptions make it easy for European Colonialists to somewhat invade a land, and try to take it over. This practice of invading a foreign country is made even easier by the way European Colonialists dehumanize the native population and convince themselves that they are helping. Chinua Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart attempts to correct these misguided views of African societies by portraying a more complex culture that values peace, and the art of conversation. Achebe also tries to portray the idea that not all European people they come in contact with are aggressive, and misconstrued in their view of the African societies. Achebe tries to show us the value of his society through repeated views into conversations, religious practices, and encounters between people.Ultimately Achebe tries to show us that Africa’s complex cultures deserve more credit than taking up a chapter or two in a European colonialist’s book. This attempt at showing Africa as a complex group of diverse cultures goes directly against everything that European colonizers are working for because it humanizes a society they want to dehumanize.
Not only is the theme underlined through Okonkwo’s actions, but also through the other character’s actions. In the text it states,”A strange and sudden weakness descended on Ekwefi…Ezinma’s voice soon faded away and only Chielo was heard moving father and farther in the distance… ‘I am following Chielo,’ she replied and disappeared in the darkness’” (Achebe 101-103). Ekwefi fears of losing her only daughter, Ezinma. Instead of being fearful of Chielo and the gods, she finds the nerve follow Chielo. In this scenario, she doesn’t allow the fear of the gods get to her head, but instead uses the fear of losing her