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Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart

The relationship of Okonkwo to his Igbo society in Achebe's Things Fall Apart was one of pure being. Okonkwo displayed the finest examples of human qualities of what it took to be an Igbo man. Okonkwo strives to be strong, masculine, industrious, respected, and wealthy. This was Okonkwo's inner struggle to be as different from his father as possible, who he believed to have been weak, effeminate, lazy, shameful, disgraceful, and poor. Okonkwo achieves great social and financial success by embracing these ideals. He marries three wives and fathers several children. He has a farm with a barn full of yams, his obi, and a hut for each wife. He was also a well respected clansman. Nevertheless, Okonkwo would find that he was unable to adapt to the changing times as the white man came to live among his people. It was this unwillingness, stubbornness, to change from his Umuofia upbringing and his ambitious and fiery demeanor that eventually brought about Okonkwo's undoing.

From the very first chapter we read that "Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, from Umuofia to Mbaino." Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand, good heart, but always fear of failure and weakness, like that of his father's. Okonkwo endeavored so hard to be different from his father, Unoka, that he was unaware in the end his own son, Nwoye, too wants to be different from his father, Okonkwo.

In chapter three Okonkwo is seen as an industrious farmer who impresses his clansmen with his hard work that he wins their trust. A farmer and friend gave to Okonkwo a total of 1200 seed yams to plant, but due to a devastating drought and terrible down pours only a third of his harvest makes it. His father tried to console him but Okonkwo said "'Since I survived that year,' he always said 'I shall survive anything.' He put it down to his inflexible will." This was indicative to Okonkwo's character that he was always a man of hard work, a man of action within his Iguedo village.

Okonkwo in his Iguido village was always revered as a very fierce warrior, a brave man, who was not afraid of blood. It was these characteristics that unfortunately led him to slay his step son Ikemefuna. The Oracle had prophesized that Ikemefuna must die and Okonkwo's was advised by an elderly clansman that he should have nothing to due with Ikemefuna's death as killing a fellow clansman is a grave sin in Igbo culture. However when Ikemefuna, having been cut severely, ran towards him "Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid a being thought weak." He falls into a state of depression, but accounts it to "idleness" and that if Ikemefuna had been killed at a busier time he would not anguish so.

How brave and unafraid Okonkwo was of blood he was still consciously trying to be a good father. His fear of Nwoye turning into his father is much like most fathers wanting the best things in life for their sons. He loved his daughters too and especially Ezinma,



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