Okonkwo’s Failures Due to Masculinity

Decent Essays
Most men in society do not like to be seen as feminine, so they do whatever they can to prove their masculinity and overall power. In Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s main goal in life is to be as masculine as possible. He does not let anyone drag him down, even if it means hurting them in the process. In the end, Okonkwo’s attempts to be masculine and powerful highlight his failures as a father, husband, and son.

One specific thing Okonkwo is a failure at is being a father. First of all, his only son, Nwoye, is a Christian and Okonkwo hates him for that. He sees him as weak and feminine, which all along has been the exact opposite of his goal as a man in society. Okonkwo has “constructed a sense of gender by
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Okonkwo is a failure in every way as a husband.

Okonkwo is a failure in every way as a son as well. It is learned early on in the book how much he hates Unoko, his father. Okonkwo’s relationship with him is devoid of love and is marked with disgust because his he is weak and a failure. Whenever someone brings up his name, it gives him bad thoughts of him and what little he did in his lifetime. Even while his father is dead, he wants nothing to do with him and pushes away the memories he has of him. Okonkwo hates what his father is so much that he becomes the exact opposite. He is “determined to succeed in whatever respect his father ha[s] failed” (“Things Fall Apart”). With a dad like Unoka, he “[does] not have the start in life which many young men ha[ve]. He neither [inherits] a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife” (Achebe 18). His father is very poor and never has a good harvest, and so during his entire life, Okonkwo aims to be wealthy and prosperous in comparison. He also wants to be strong and powerful because of how weak his father is. Okonkwo becomes a famous wrestler when he is young to prove his point. He acts powerful, too, and shows with brutal force that he is the head of his household and a great leader, whether that means beating his family or killing a Christian who tries to change the ways of his society. One more thing he strives to be is masculine
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