Better Essays
Nathaniel Cox
Ms. Johnson
English II
April 7, 2013
Things Fall Apart: Character Analysis Research Paper In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the main character Okonkwo has only one tragic flaw; he has raised himself so that looking weak or effeminate is the worst thing to him that he could do. Okonkwo is a model clansman based on his success. However, he is more alienated from his culture based on his lack of respect for it. In this research paper, I’ll walk through a character analysis of Okonkwo. The protagonist of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is also considered a tragic hero. A tragic hero holds a position of power and prestige, chooses his course of action, possesses a tragic flaw, and gains awareness of
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If, on the other hand, Okonkwo’s suicide is a positive act designed to immortalise the traditions that his people are so close to throwing away, then Okonkwo’s death is not a “form of collective suicide” but is instead the transference of Igbo culture from the physical to the mythic. As reflected in his ties to divinity in the opening passage, Okonkwo is no longer a mere mortal who is powerless to act against the colonizers, but is a symbol of anti-colonialism to rally around, a martyr for the Igbo people. “...It was deeper and more intimate that the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo’s fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself” (Achecbe 10).
Although Things Fall Apart can be interpreted in the tragic mode, the novel is much more meaningful if we interpret Okonkwo’s suicide as an act of willful resistance rather than an act of shame and dishonor. Within the text itself, the effects of Okonkwo’s suicide are barely felt in the colonial world; the commissioner is still planning on writing his study, Nwoye is still lost to Igbo culture, and even Obierika’s fierce words fall upon deaf ears. But on the other hand, if we consider Okonkwo’s suicide to be a positivity rather than an act of defeat, then
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