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Essay on Okonkwo: A True Hero

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Okonkwo achieves respect and high social status through his own heroic efforts despite being left with nothing but the dishonorable reputation of his “lazy and improvident” father. Toiling in the fields, enduring droughts, exhibiting fearless on the battlefield, and fueled by a burning desire to succeed, Okonkwo becomes a hero in Umuofia. Okonkwo’s success stems from his hard-work and perseverance, which he achieves in spite of his father’s shortcomings. He “lay[s] the foundations of a prosperous future” by slowly and painfully working like “one possessed” in order to escape “his father’s contemptible life and shameful death.” Okonkwo, so “possessed” with escaping the lingering reputation of his father, does anything in his power to earn…show more content…
Okonkwo's fear of being perceived as weak tragically leads to him to be unnecessarily violent and excessively prideful. These two fatal flaws lead to Okonkwo’s own emotional isolation, and his inevitable downfall. Driven by the fear of being seen as weak and emasculated, Okonkwo exhibits hyper masculinity and rage. Although this behavior initially leads to success in the patriarchal society of Umofia, rage is his greatest bane: it masks his compassion and pusillanimity. Onkonkwo’s obsession to never appear feminine is driven to the extreme. He denies affection even to his own family, “never show[ing] any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To [Okonkwo] show[ing] affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.” (pg. 28). Okonkwo whose “whole life [is] dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness.” (pg. 13) suppress his compassion in order to appear important and manly. Ironically this creates a stark juxtaposition between his own fear and his position as an alpha male. Rather than being masculine and courageous, Okonkwo just creates tension within his family and within himself. The pinnacle of this extreme hypermasculinity is when Okonkwo ignores the wisdom of the elder Ezeudu, and violently kills his “son” Ikamafuna: “As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He had heard Ikamafuna cry “My father, they have killed me!”
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