Okonkwo's Foil

Decent Essays
Diana DeBernardis, 5
Mr. Rosenberry
Honors English 11
December 19, 2012
Okonkwo’s Foil
“Opposites attract.” This is a very cliché quote used by physicists and other scientific personnel, but it rings true in many different ways. In literature, the correct term for a character that sets off or enhances another character by contrast is called a “foil.” Pairs of characters that are foils to each other have very opposing views and personalities, but their presence with each other illustrates the qualities in a better light. The book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a fictional novel which includes a main character named Okonkwo. Okonkwo has some very distinguishing features about him, but the fact that he has a foil in the novel
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When Okonkwo explains to Obierika how he would strive to have a son like his because he is so strong and mighty, Obierika answers with a very pacifying response. “‘You worry yourself for nothing,’ said Obierika. ‘The children are still very young.’” (Achebe 66). This passage shows that Obierika is not so concerned about power and supremacy.
Because of the contrast in Obierika’s traits, he is definitely a foil to Okonkwo because Okonkwo is very strong-minded, dogmatic, and hot-tempered. If something does not go his way, Okonkwo will do something very irrational about it. When Okonkwo asked his second wife where his third wife, Ojiugo, was he became angered because his second wife lied to him about Ojiugo’s whereabouts. “He walked back to his obi to await Ojiugo’s return. And when she returned he beat her very heavily” (Achebe 29). Okonkwo’s rationale of beating his third wife was in very poor judgment because he beat her during the Week of Peace. The Week of Peace was a week among the tribes where there was supposed to be no violence. This shows that Okonkwo has a very short temper and he does not tolerate nearly as much as Obierika can tolerate.
Not only does Okonkwo differ from Obierika in the fact of their personality traits, but Obierika is a foil to Okonkwo because of Okonkwo’s hunger for power. Okonkwo himself was known as the most powerful man in his village because he threw Amalinze the Cat, who was a great wrestler who had
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