Analysis Of Okonkwo's Fall In Things Fall Apart

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Okonkwo, the protagonist of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, is the epitome of the self-made man. He starts from humble beginnings and turns himself into a successful farmer, wrestler, and warrior, propelled by a fear of seeming weak and womanish like his father, Unoko. At first, Okonkwo makes conscious behavioral choices as a reaction against Unoko, but over time, his desire for strength and masculinity becomes a subconscious personality trait and manifests itself in the way he reacts towards others. Eventually, Okonkwo’s impulsive actions bring about a great consequence, his suicide. This tragic end marks him as a victim of his own personal flaw, fear of effeminacy, which is the root cause of his personal transformation over the course …show more content…
Christianity appeals to many of the villagers, including Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye. After so many years of being beat down by his father to stop acting weak and lazy, Nwoye finds solace in Christian teachings. His religious conversion, then, is a product of Okonkwo’s fixation on machismo, and this very same conversion is what contributes to his father’s decline. Okonkwo returns from Mbanta, no longer as a celebrated wrestler, but almost forgotten by the Umuofians and abandoned by his son. In Okonkwo’s exile, the “clan had undergone such profound change” and he is “deeply grieved…not just a personal grief. He mourn[s] for the clan, which he s[ees] breaking up and falling apart, and…for the warlike men of Umuofia, who ha[ve] so unaccountably become soft like women” (182-183). Here, Okonkwo struggles to cope with the imposition of British rule. Iguedo operates on a different political and economic level than before and it seems to him that the Ibo people have renounced tradition and weakly submitted to the imperialists instead of exercising their own power. Okonkwo’s fear of effeminacy has become permanent enough that, at this point, he is physically and pathetically saddened by the village’s loss of tradition and …show more content…
One day, the District Commissioner, who is in charge of administering British law in Umuofia, calls Okonkwo and five other Iguedo elders to formally air their grievances; however, this is a trap. For several days, the six men are held in custody, whipped, and demanded to abide by imperial rule. After their release, all of the Umuofian men plan a meeting in the marketplace to decide how to expel the British. Beforehand, Okonkwo vows to “avenge himself” and defend power and virtue “if [the men choose] to be cowards” (199). Then, that day, the meeting is interrupted by a British messenger who orders the Ibo to stop. “In a flash…Okonkwo’s machete descend[s on] the man’s head” and the messenger is killed (204). He reacts so immediately because his obsession has been completely internalized and is now an enduring trait. Okonkwo’s response comes also from a place of desperation: he’s lost his son, his clan, and his village to the British, and the only way he knows how to combat their rule is with manly violence, which stems from his castigation of all things

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