To begin, Okonkwo is shown to be a self made, well respected member of the Umuofia clan. Though, he seems stern, most of his life is dictated with fear. For example,the passage states “ And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father’s contemptible life and shameful death.”(Achebe,18/1). This helps the reader understand that Okonkwo faces many challenges in life to prove to his village and the people themselves that he is nothing like his father, Unoka and is haunted by the fact that one day he will become a man whom he promised he will never become. The passage states “ Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.”(Achebe,61/1). This helps the reader understand the reason why
Okonkwo has many errors judging the complexity of many big decisions. He also has a major weakness, that being his pride and constant battle-ready state. These end up being a major downfall in his life. Ikemefuna ends up being a part of Okonkwo’s errors in pride when the Oracle decrees Ikemefuna’s death. One blow from a machete didn’t kill him and having seen this, “Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (61). This quote shows Okonkwo’s kryptonite, being thought of as a weak person. This would eventually lead to him and five others being captured by the missionaries and brought to a jail. “The six men ate nothing throughout that day and the next. They were not even given water to drink. ‘We should have killed the white man if you had listened to me,’ Okonkwo snarled” (195). This quote shows Okonkwo’s failure to judge just how serious the situation is with him saying what they should have done is listened to him. Both of these events lead Okonkwo down a dark path. While taking some of the missionaries on a path to find Okonkwo, they see his body hanging from a tree. Obierika, a long-time friend of Okonkwo starts to yell at the missionaries, blaming them for his death by saying, “That man was one of the greatest in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog” (208). This quote shows the end of a long chain of events that drove Okonkwo to his destruction of
Okonkwo's machete descended twice and the man's head lay beside his uniformed body.” The quote is a perfect example of the rash decisions that Okonkwo makes in the final parts of the novel. Now more angered than ever at the white men, Okonkwo chops the head off of a messenger, without consent from the clansmen, or hearing the messenger fully read aloud the message that he carried. The man’s life was taken from him by Okonkwo in a matter of seconds, and with little thought for the consequences. It is shown, even at this point in Okonkwo’s character arc, that he still held his beliefs about using violence in almost every situation. Okonkwo at this point also has a realization. As Achebe states “
The description given early in the novel clearly establishes his character as being a strong and wealthy man who is well respected among the rest of the tribe due to his superior fighting abilities and his influential personality. Having achieved such elite status within the Umuofia clan, Okonkwo appears to be old-fashioned as it is seen in his approach in raising his family and tribal people. However, Okonkwo’s character changes incrementally with the emergence of a boy, Ikemefuna, from a neighboring village, who was brought to him because of his brutal attack against his wife Ojiugo during the ‘week of peace’. Amongst the Umuofia clan, the ‘week of peace’ is a tribal ritual whose conditions are not to complete any evil sins in a certain week span. After having accepted Ikemefuna into the family, Okonkwo experiences a shift in his mental state. Shortly hereafter, he questions this change, which demonstrates his lack of willingness to change which is clearly demonstrated in the book in several different ways like in chapter Eight, Okonkwo proclaims to himself, “When did you become a shivering old woman, you, who are known in all nine villages for your valour in war” (Achebe 56). This represents that his character has become a weaker, less influential individual amongst the nine tribes where he is well known. Symbolically, this depicts a fragile reputation in Okonkwo’s status within the community to which he belongs.
The disparity between Okonkwo’s true motivations and his warped motivations lead Okonkwo to behave in ways which shocked other members of Umuofia with his apparent disregard for others, but which made sense to him as he saw weakness and Unoka in alternatives. When Ezeudu, a respected elder in Umuofia, informed Okonkwo that the village Oracle called for the killing of Okonkwo’s adopted son Ikemefuna, he asked Okonkwo not to take part. However, Okonkwo not only accompanied them,
“He had a large barn full of yams and he had three wives. And now he was going to take the Idemili title, the third highest in the land” (12). Okonkwo was a successful man in his culture and lands far beyond Umuofia. He was prideful of what he had accomplished from a very young age, his culture meant everything to him as he had made his way to the top. He had everything he ever needed, the honor, he was a warrior, and he had made it to the top from absolutely nothing that his own father did for him. Sadly, towards the end of the book, Okonkwo had broken clan rules on purpose and killed himself. “Then they came to the tree from which Okonkwo’s body was dangling, and they stopped dead.” (Achebe 207). In this quote, it explains that Okonkwo had hung himself on the tree killing himself even though it went against everything he believed in; bravery, customs, and masculinity. Okonkwo’s personal pride was his response to the cultural collision because he was to stubborn to change his culture. He had shown resistance but also went against the clan rules. Okonkwo’s response to the colonizers shapes the meaning of the work as a whole by his suicide signifying things falling apart since it was the first time he purposely had broken the clan law. This shows that he had been struggling with any type of change in the book and finally he couldn’t adapt to any change. He was a
The destruction of Okonkwo was revealed slowly throughout the books. He started to make some poor decisions, which became the beginning of his downfall. He killed Ikemefuna just because he didn’t want to be thought weak. He made unwise decisions to only appear to be strong and manly to others in the village. He did not realize how he lost so much from living that way. When, Okonkwo kills Ogbuefi Ezedu’s son, the real tragedy begins. Other tragic heroes usually have a steadier downfall, but Okonkwo had a direct fall in society due to this event. This puts his family into exile for seven years. After a short period of time, white missionaries arrive to Umuofia. When “The
For all of his desire to be strong, Okonkwo is caught up by the constant fear of being perceived as weak. He is afraid of failure and afraid of being considered weak. This fear drives him to do whatever he can to not become a failure like his father which ironically contributes to his death. While Okonkwo was a strong and important figure in his tribe, he had to keep his reputation that way by making some hard decisions. One of them was when he had to kill Ikemefuna, a young boy from the neighboring tribe. Okonkwo started accepting the decision to kill Ikemefuna because he started to call Okonkwo father. He had to keep his own valor intact and kill the boy to prevent himself from showing any weakness, but deep down, Okonkwo was really upset because of what he did which was ironic, “’When did you become a shivering old woman,' Okonkwo asked himself, 'you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed.'" (Achebe 65). He continued to roll downhill when the white man comes to try and convert Okonkwo’s tribe. Okonkwo responds by killing one of the messengers that were sent. This cause Okonkwo's own tribe to question his actions. “"Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war. He knew because they had let the other messengers escape.
After a village elder had found what crime Okonkwo committed, he told Okonkwo that, “you are not a stranger in Umuofia. You know as well as I that our forefathers ordained that before we plant any crops in the earth, we should observe a week of peace in which a man does not say a harsh word to his neighbor” (30). The elder proceeded to give Okonkwo instructions on how to attempt amends with the goddess. After a single action was taken, his proceeding efforts were nearly non-existent. Any attempt to fix the situation were minimal, as were efforts to learn from his mistakes. Furthermore, Okonkwo advances to partaking in the death of Ikemefuna. The relationship between the two is complicated, but is closest description is that of a boy and his step-father. Killing Ikemefuna is not an evil against the earth, as beating a wife during the week of peace was, but a crime against himself. He is unhappy with himself, and still does nothing to fix his ways, continuing on to single handedly killing a boy at a funeral. Although accidental, Okonkwo was still the man behind the gun. “It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clansman, and a man who committed it must flee from the land….he could return to the clan after seven years” (124). Okonkwo had no choice but to leave for the seven years, perhaps upon his return
Still unable to accept and adapt to the change he encounters, Okonkwo uses a method of violence by killing the messenger from the Christians and at last kills himself. Okonkwo’s suicide marks that he finally meets his fate. He stands for his power, strength, and masculinity and has great pride for his achievement. After realizing that he cannot conquer his chi and escape from miserable events, he gives up his life by
His tragic downfall truly begins when his is sent away because of an accidental murder of a boy. Okonkwo and his family are exiled from the tribe for seven years and Okonkwo is stripped of the fruits of his hard work. While he is away the white missionaries move into the village. They preach against the culture and its violent ways, causing Okonkwo to become saturated with rage. Seven years later, Okonkwo is able to return. He plans to reestablish himself and his position with the help of his family. However, Umofia is not as it once was. The white men have moved in and dismantled the tribe with their laws and government. Okonkwo wishes to fight, but the clan does not agree with his suggestion. After realizing the fate of the village, Okonkwo chooses to take his life. He would rather die than watch everything he had worked for fall apart because of weak people. His tragic flaw, a fear of weakness, is so strong it destroyed him.
In the novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is portrayed as a respected and determined individual whose fatal flaw eventually works against him. Throughout the novel the readers are shown that Okonkwo has many of these Characteristics because he is obsessed with the idea of becoming just like his father. This becomes his flaw in the novel that puts him into exile and makes it hard for him to adjust to the changes that were made with in his village.
Okonkwo had a lot of flaws. He was stuck on having a good reputation and raising the best family he could. He feared for his children to become like his father and his wives to become lazy. He got mad frequently and took it out on his family if they did anything wrong. But one of his flaws were involved with the killing of his adopted son Ikemefuna. A group of elders had gone with Okonkwo and Ikemefuna to a forest, where one of them swung their machete at the poor boy and destroyed. Ikemefuna ran to Okonkwo for help, but “dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down” (61). The man was afraid of being thought of as weak. Then again, he had always had a tough image around others. Of course, accidents happened quite a lot for Okonkwo because he accidentally killed a higher up in the village during Ezeudu’s funeral and “he could not return to the clan after seven years” (124). He had to start all over with his family and return to his motherland. Life was never fun for Okonkwo. Hard work and strict punishment was basically what he was known for. So when Okonkwo and men from Umuofia went to visit the District Commissioner, they were taken as prisoners and whipped along with being shaven until a certain price was paid. Once they were released and they went home, people in the village were accepting until “nobody else spoke but they noticed the long stripes on Okonkwo’s
Things begin to fall apart when Okonkwo kills a young man and is exiled for seven years. Throughout the seven years, Okonkwo thinks only of his return to Umuofia and how he will rebuild his fame and fortune and how much he must have been misssed by his people. Upon his return,
Okonkwo is a strong and confident man who has vowed to never be like his father Unoka. His father was lazy, unsuccessful and carried no titles. The relationship between Okonkwo and his father motivated Okonkwo to gain titles and become successful inside the clan. In this sense, Okonkwo has gained many titles, has three wives, and respected by the clan. Okonkwo chose to feel that identity in the clan was most important, and through this he had become a presence in the clan, noticed by the elders. However after the arrival of missionaries, who had come to convert the clans to Christianity, Okonkwo’s view is completely contradicted by the missionaries. Okonkwo had grown accustomed to members of the clan being ranked by certain tiers, while the