What Drives a Man

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What Drives A Man What makes a successful man? This, in itself, is a culture bound question because it can vary from culture to culture. However, in the perception of Okonkwo, the main character in Chinua Achebe 's novel, Things Fall Apart, the measure of a man 's success is based on two elements, material acquisition and growth, and physical prowess. This is ironic for Okonkwo since his people 's typical idea of success seems to be constructed of a complex, strong spiritual culture, seemingly able to deal in traditional ways with any challenge in nature and human experience. (Ravenscroft 9) Although Okonkwo is undoubtedly an important member of Umuofian society, he is not a typical representative of that society. (Taiwo 115) It…show more content…
(Ravenscroft 9) Since Okonkwo is a tragic hero, he must have a tragic flaw. This flaw comes on two levels. The first of which is his fetish with war, fighting, and conquering. Okonkwo constantly must be engaged in some activity, and like a typical Star Trek "Klingon", this is physical exertion or combat. For Okonkwo, the desire to conquer and subdue is described as being, "...like the desire for woman '. (Achebe 30) He possessed a one-track mind that was focused on nothing, save success. His second tragic flaw is that he can show no other emotion, except anger. He never shows his fondness for the young hostage, Ikemefuna, who eventually regards Okonkwo as his father. Inside, Okonkwo wishes that Ikemefuna was his natural son instead of Nwoye. It is also his flaw that causes him to beat his wife during the weak of peace for, "...killing this banana tree." (Achebe 27) His anger almost causes him to kill his second wife with a gun. He feels very sorry for this, but cannot show his true emotions. The tantamount example of this is when the Oracle of the Hill deems that Ikemefuma must die, but not by Okonkwo 's hand, since he calls him father. "As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his matchet, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, ‘ My father, they have killed me! ' as he ran towards him.
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