Okonkwo Culture Collision

1055 Words 5 Pages
Okonkwo had a strong response to the cultural collision in Things Fall Apart. Before encountering Western influence, Okonkwo was a strong but insecure man who cared a lot about gaining titles and respect. He immediately rejected the new culture and wanted to maintain their tribes’ original belief system, but unwillingness to change led him to end his own life. Okonkwo began to feel separate and distant from his once strong and resilient tribe because of their lack of action against the European colonists who believed they needed to “civilize” African tribes. Chinua Achebe is attempting to make a statement about culture through Okonkwo’s actions and beliefs. The way he wrote Okonkwo’s story taught the readers the danger of a single story, and …show more content…
In his culture, being anything but a strong, titled man was a disgraceful thing to be. Due to his fear, he became an established warrior who acted towards the overall good of the tribe and did everything he could to be an ideal Ibo tribe member. This is shown when the author says, “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements” (3). Okonkwo’s happiness came from his status in Umuofia because he was incredibly insecure about his position in society. His actions led all of Umuofia to recognize his achievements and respect him as an authority figure. But, they lost respect when he was exiled for seven years to his mother’s village. Everything he worked for was rooted in one simple thing; his father, Unoka, and his way of life. These goals are further explained when Achebe states, “Unoka, the grown-up, was a failure” (5). Later, he speaks of how this influenced Okonkwo by saying, “And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion-to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness” (13). This shows why Okonkwo acted the way he did. He had a very short temper, and “ruled his house with a heavy hand” (13). Because of how ashamed Okonkwo was of his father’s standing in the tribe, he lived to be everything Unoka wasn’t. This meant he came across as cruel, strict, and an …show more content…
A single story is just from one perspective, and it doesn’t incorporate all aspects that make the story whole. What was important to African natives was taken from them by the Europeans, but that isn’t what we are typically led to believe. Most Westerners didn’t know or care to learn the native’s individual stories, but wrote about them as if they thoroughly understood both sides. After Okonkwo kills himself, Obierika says, “‘[Okonkwo] was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself” (208). The Europeans believed they were helping Africans by making them more like themselves. However, their influence wasn’t wanted nor needed, and was hurting Africans more than it was helping them. The District Commissioner believed, “One could write almost a whole chapter on [Okonkwo]...He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: the Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” (209). Achebe was able to write an entire book on Okonkwo and his story, yet the District Commissioner only had enough information for a few paragraphs about him. This demonstrates how little the colonists actually knew and cared about the tribes they were taking over. The District Commissioner’s book would be a prominent example of a single story, along with all of the nonfiction counterparts in bookstores

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