Example Of Things Fall Apart: The Character Of Okonkwo Essay
Things fall apart: The character of Okonkwo.
Okonkwo is a highly successful member of the Umuofia clan. Much of his behavior results from the fact that he doesn't want to be like his own father. He considers his father to be lazy, cowardly, unable to take good care of his family and with feminine attributes.
The novel says about Okonkwo that he acts; he does not think. This attribute is shown in many instances. For example, Ogbuefi Ezeudu, who is a respected village elder, tells Okonkwo in confidence that the Oracle has decided that Ikemefuna has to be killed. Mr. Ezeudu advises Okonkwo not to be present when the boy is to be murdered. However, Okonkwo is the one who actually cuts the boy down despite the admonishment of the Oracle. He is “afraid of being thought weak” by his fellow tribesmen.
Later in the novel, Okonkwo kills a messenger from the British District’s office. The messenger killed is the leader of a team that has been sent to order the clansmen to refrain from holding a meeting. Okonkwo kills this man with the expectation that fellow clan members will join him in uprising. However, the crowd lets the other messengers escape, and Okonkwo realizes that the clan is not willing to wage war on the Europeans. It is then that he opts to commit suicide rather than face the law of the white man.
Surely, Okonkwo's impulsiveness and temper lead to his tragic end. He thinks that the clan will join him in an uprising when he kills the messenger from the court. When fellow clan members do not join him, he realizes what a huge mistake he has made. He also realizes the fact that now he has to face the law of the white man and will probably be hanged. When the District Commissioner comes to Okonkwo's compound looking for him, he finds out that Okonkwo ha hanged himself. Despite the fact that suicide is a grave sin in the African Culture, Okonkwo opts for this instead of having his day in Court.
This is a tragic end for a man who spent his life trying to be brave and ‘manly'. Unlike his father before him, Okonkwo worked hard, was brave and ended up successful in many areas of life. However, his final act of suicide portrays him as weak and a coward, attributes that he despised his whole life.
Isidore Okpewho (2003) Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: A Casebook. Oxford, New York
Francis Abiola Irele (2009) Things Fall Apart: Authoritative Text, Contexts, and Criticism. New York: Norton