Okonkwo uses strength and manliness to show dominance and manipulate people's views. Okonkwo uses his strength to fight, and show dominance over other people in his clan. Secondly, he maintains a constant image of manliness. Therefore, Okonkwo cannot show affection towards his daughters, cannot constantly treat his family with respect, and lastly, cannot associate with feminine men. This constant use of strength and lack of affection brings Okowkno to his demise. America still has many similar issues. Examples include, dominance over other powerful nations, using force to gain wealth or power, and maintaining a constant image of strength, even when it is not acceptable.
Okonkwo life is “dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness” (Achebe 13). When Okonkwo was a boy, his playmates teased him calling, saying that his father was agbala. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was lazy. He did not work on his farm; he died in great debt. He did not acquire a single title. He did not have a barn to pass down to his son. Unoka is a type of man who is scorned in Umofia. He is seen as weak and effeminate. As Okonkwo grows older, he is determined not become a failure like his father. His father was weak; he will be strong. His father was lazy; he will be hard-working. Okonkwo earned his fame by defeating the reigning wrestling champion. Okonkwo diligently plants yam, building a successful farm. He builds himself an obi, has three wives and many children. His fame “rested on solid personal achievements” (Achebe 3). Okonkwo will not let one womanly trait sully his reputation. Therefore, he “hate[d] everything that his father Unoka had loved” (Achebe 13). One of these was gentleness. Okonkwo refuses to show any signs of emotion, except his temper. He
But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness.” Many people believed that Okonkwo was such a cruel man because of the wall that he put up. This affected his family because he still continued to act tough with his wives and most of his kids, there was only one of his children that saw his soft side and that was Emzina, his daughter. He also thought a lot about one of the people he killed, which showed that he wasn’t the tough guy that everybody thought he was, but no matter what he refused to show any signs of weakness to avoid being like his
Okonkwo’s violent behavior escalate to the point in which he attend to shoot his own wife just because she mumble some words in his back. This doesn’t mean he is a bad person. Later in the chapter is found that he is very fond of his daughter Ezinma, display feelings of love and affection but he consider those emotion as weakness to himself
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!”
Even during a time of peace and love, Okonkwo cannot hold himself back from dealing out a harsh punishment to his wife. He does not care about traditions or his religion as much as he cares about being strong or making a point. This plays into the theme of Man vs. Society by showing how Okonkwo goes against the expectations of the tribe and the theme of Self-Made Man by showing how he treats the world around him to better himself. Okonkwo’s first thoughts are not that he should just be calm because of the time; they are ones of violence because that is how he has reacted to every situation. He actually forgets all about the holiday that was occurring then because of his anger. It should be noted that even when his other wives confront him to remind him about the sacred peace, he continues to beat his wife because he is not one to quit once he starts making an example out of
This is an example of the difference in personal beliefs among family. Some may say that the book is about the differences in beliefs between the Africans and the colonizers, but it is more than that. It is clear that it was Okonkwo's personal beliefs and not necessarily the views of the people of Umuofia which guided him in what he did. One of these is his reliance in the strength of anger. Although he felt strongly in the beliefs and customs of the Ibo people, there are several occasions in which Okonkwo made a decision to disobey the customs in order to live out his own personal beliefs. For example, in chapter four, Okonkwo is yelled at by Ezeani, the priest of the earth goddess, for beating his wife during the sacred week of peace. Okonkwo did not feel remorse for his actions and probably thought of it as a sign of strength and manhood. Okonkwo was always worried about being seen as weak. One good
His masculine attitudes of not “reasoning like cowards” and “this is what a man does” are examples of how he cannot and will not back down from his war ways, which shows he is trying to strive away from his father’s legacy of a man who had no titles. Through out the book Okonkwo tries to get the most he can possibly attain. Okonkwo was really first recognized for throwing the cat and becoming the greatest wrestler in Umuofia. This probably has him thinking that the way to achieve greatness is through sheer strength alone.
We take a look at his personality and see that he had a warrior complex and machismo. For example in the novel on page 158 paragraph six it says “let us not reason like cowards.” His warrior complex turns everything he does like a battle plan. He wants there to be a fight or else they are not doing it right. Okonkwo’s machismo makes everyone else who is not like him not a man. In the book we see this on page 26 paragraph two “this meeting is for men.” He did not want to listen to the man because he was not well known like him and he did not have as many titles as okonkwo did. Both of these traits aided in the way he responded to the new culture.
First, Okonkwo is a controlling gentlemen. He wants to be nothing like his father, him and his father are very different. During the week of peace Okonkwo beats his wife. He beats his wife up because she was braiding her hair instead of
Okonkwo’s view is further developed when he “encouraged [Nwoye and Ikemefuna] to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land- masculine stories of violence and bloodshed” (53). This quote shows that Okonkwo believes gory subjects to be suitable and honestly necessary for men entering “manhood.” He takes these two
Okonkwo thinks he is the owner of his household and he shows no mercy to anyone who angers him. “He ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives…lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness.” (Achebe, Chapter 2, p.8). Okonkwo beats his children and wives because of his temper which is influenced by the Igbo society; he puts on a hard exterior because he is afraid of being weak and unsuccessful. At one point, he attempts to kill his second wife with a gun because he thinks she is the cause of a tree’s death. In order to prove his power and strength, without thinking of the consequences, Okonkwo beats his youngest wife during the week of peace - a week when the village celebrates peace and who ever disrupts the peace will be punished by Ala, the earth goddess (Lycos, online). “His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for the fear of a goddess.” (Achebe, Chapter 4, p.21). Okonkwo lives in a male dominant society where men are pressured to be strong and successful; because of these influences, Okonkwo develops an inner
Okonkwo is also incredibly aggressive. He regularly physically abuses his nuclear family and does so to make himself seem more masculine. His violence in order to protect his fragile masculinity goes to the extent that “his wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper.” (2.12) After the missionaries arrive in Umuofia and Okonkwo’s
Okonkwo is a man who has to have things his own way. In the novel, there is a scene where his second wife, Ojiugo, did not make him his afternoon meal. Okonkwo, in an act of anger, started to beat his wife heaviley. His other two wives begged for him to stop beating Ojiugo, as it was the Week of Peace, a sacred Igbo holiday. However, “...Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess” (Achebe 30). Despite believing that he may be punished by a god, Okonkwo did not stop beating his wife. Unoka was a more compassionate man than Okonkwo, he was also stubborn. Unoka was lazy and fiscally irresponsible. He spent what little money he had on alcohol and didn’t
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.