Father And Son Relationships In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1021 Words 5 Pages
Oliver Vonderhaar
Honors English 10
6 October 2014
Like Father, Unlike Son
Family is significant for all people, especially at young ages. Fathers play an important role while their sons are growing up, effecting their personality and other traits.. This can be good or bad. Chinua Achebe makes this an obvious point in Things Fall Apart. Father-son relationships over three generations have the power to influence the personality traits of each son in Achebe’s writing. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, unintentionally influences Okonkwo’s violent and hardworking personality by motivating him not to be unsuccessful and lazy like himself. In the opening pages, Achebe describes Unoka’s unproductive and idle life of not receiving a title, owing people borrowed money at all times, and his lackluster farming and why Okonkwo wouldn’t want to model himself after his
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Unoka doesn’t provide any “personal or communal obligations” for Okonkwo, resulting in Okonkwo believing he is a failure. The fact that Unoka was just a biological feature motivates Okonkwo to be a hardworking man, father, and husband, providing personal and communal necessities rather than just being like his dad who was slothful instead of guiding his son to high magnitudes. In addition, Okonkwo’s father also influences Okonkwo to be a violent person. Achebe describes an alternative perspective of Okonkwo’s violent and evil personality that most don’t realize when he says that “Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness.” In several instances, Okonkwo hints of his fear of growing up like his weak and feminine father. Okonkwo shows this fear at times in the book such as when he “[draws] his machete and [cuts] [Ikemefuna] down” because “he [is] afraid of being thought weak” (Achebe 61). Okonkwo loves Ikemefuna as a son,

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