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Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart

In the novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, the main character, ended up taking his own life. The fact that he was the one who ended his existence would make one think that he had total control over his fate. However, that was simply not the case. For one, his experience growing up with his father played a large role in how his life played out. Secondly, his experience with Ikemefuna and his questionable decision to assist in his slaying came back to haunt him. Lastly, the white Christian missionaries in both Okonkwo's fatherland and motherland pushed him to the brink of madness. Okonkwo's fate was indeed inevitable because of some major events in his life and the kind of person he was.

In Okonkwo's eyes, his father was lazy, effeminate, poor, and worst of all, title less. This shamed Okonkwo for his entire life, and it made him want to be the exact opposite. His whole life was aimed at erasing the memory of his father to his clansmen through great deeds, relentless hard work, and unwavering masculinity. He constantly showed this throughout the novel, with numerous beatings to his wives and children. One line showed this particularly well and it was on page 13. Okonkwo was ruled by one passion--to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentle-ness and another was idleness. This shows exactly why Okonkwo had such low tolerance for his children and wives. They often reminded him of his father because they were gentler and more effeminate. Another example of this was during the Ibo tribe's sacred Week of Peace. The Week of Peace was very important to the Ibo people and during that week no clansmen was to physically harm or speak ill of another clansmen. Okonkwo broke this be beating his second wife when he came home and there was no meal waiting for him. Okonkwo could have talked to his wife and explained to her how angry he was at that particular offense, but instead the manly, brutish nature of his personality shone through and he breached the sacred rules of his own people.

Secondly, the ill-fate boy named Ikemefuna, who came so suddenly to Okonkwo, changed his life drastically. Ikemefuna was a stranger to Okonkwo, but after a little while he was loved by him. Okonkwo never admitted it during the story, but the narrator tells us that Okonkwo truly thought of Ikemefuna as a son. He even believed Ikemefuna could have a positive influence on his own biological son to be less womanly in his demeanor and more like himself. The old man Ezeudu came to Okonkwo one day and told him that it had been decided that Ikemefuna would be killed. He also said that Okonkwo should not bear a hand in Ikemefuna's death. Okonkowo feared that the rest of the tribe would question his manhood if he did not at least accompany the group that would take Ikemefuna's life. After the first blow from a machete was given to him, Ikemefuna ran towards Okonkwo and the only way Okonkwo knew how to react was in the manliest way possible, which was to finish him off. Okonkwo wanted to leave nobody in doubt that his masculinity was unmatched. In that split second when Ikemefuna was running towards him, Okonkwo had to decide what to do. Should he comfort him and help him like he wanted to? Or should he preserve his reputation at all costs? Okonkwo chose the latter and this if anything set him on a path for destruction. The day after, Okonkwo did not even eat food. He just drank more and more wine. The narrator expressed to us how distraught Okonkwo was.

Lastly, the regular presence of Christian missionaries into Okonkwo's life proved too much change for him to accept. Okonkwo was deeply disappointed that his motherland would not fight and drive out the white Christians and their converts. Repeatedly during his exile, Okonkwo expressed his disgust with how his temporary tribe dealt with the missionaries. When Okonkwo was done with his exile and made his way back to his old village, he thought he was going back to the warlike tribe that he had known for so long. When he found out that the missionaries



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