Igbo Suicide

1501 Words 7 Pages
Suicide is an unsettling aspect of human behavior. Almost all religions and cultures disapprove of suicides. In many Western civilizations suicide was considered a felony. The major religions of the world, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism, consider it immoral. Despite the widespread condemnation of suicide, it is the 15th leading cause of death in the world¹. The Igbo culture has such disdain for suicide that they will not touch the body nor give it a proper burial. Though Okonkwo prided himself on being a strong Igbo man, he ended up committing one of the most taboo acts - suicide. As explained by one of the Igbo men, “‘It is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits …show more content…
They believe that no obstacle is insurmountable, and that life will work itself out. Okonkwo, per contra, saw two hurdles that were too high for even him: the weakness of his chi and the weakness of his tribe. Okonkwo was deathly afraid of weakness, and as described, “...his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness” (Achebe, 13) Due to his father Okonkwo cannot stand weakness, and he may have a chronic phobia of it. This is why it hurts him so much when his son leaves him to join the Christian missionaries. Okonkwo sees these white missionaries as the epitome of weakness, and anyone who joins them is weak as well. This is why it hits so close to home when Nwoye joins, as Okonkwo had always stressed strength from birth and he still chose to leave him and join them. Okonkwo does not understand why he would ever do this, and instead of thinking of the abuse Nwoye experienced he instead gets angry. As he is trying to harden up the rest of his children, he exclaims “‘You have all seen the great abomination of your brother. Now he is no longer my son or your brother. I will only have a son who is a man…’” (Achebe, 172) Though he is speaking to his family, this anger and resentment for weakness also translates to his tribe around him. Okonkwo believes that in not fighting against the white people and letting them come into their tribe and do as they wish that Umuofia has been engulfed in weakness. Okonkwo treats his village as his family, and when he states “I will only have a son who is a man”, he is not only referring to his immediate family but to the family of the clan. Okonkwo sees himself as the spiritual father of the clan, and he believes that they should all be strong and fight back. When they refuse, he knows that they are all weak and weakness has taken over his life despite his struggles. Though there are other options, Okonkwo

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