Self-Will In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1248 Words 5 Pages
Obi Okonkwo, the once upon a time ‘prodigal son’, is in many ways the reason for his own downfall. He is seen by the reader as a wasteful, self-absorbed young man who acts runs away from his problems.
Achebe reveals that Obi doesn’t have right values. Along with his own wants, Obi values image and Clara above all else. Achebe first reveals this when Obi refuses to study law in England, which is what Umofian people – who taxed themselves heavily to give Obi this opportunity – needed. Rather, by ‘self-will’, Obi reads English. The word ‘self-will’ is especially significant because it shows us that the once ‘good apple’ of the village disrespected the Union by refusing to do what was expected of him; showing that he does not care what they need,
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He is further depicted as a ‘foolish’ man who tends to throw the blame on the people around him. An example of this is when Obi says ‘If I had not sent thirty-five pounds...to pay for mother’s treatment, I would have been alright’. Achebe used this quote to reveal a bitter side to Obi’s personality – that is, that he is blind enough to believe that he would have been better off forgetting about his own mother’s hospital bill, for the opportunity cost of not letting the Umofia Progressive Union down. He states that it is ‘unthinkable’ to reveal his financial circumstances – yet, it is ‘alright’ to abandon your mother’s hospital bill? Through this quote Achebe has suggested, once more, that his values are all wrong. Further on, Obi’s irresponsible spending gets him into a state severe debt. However, Obi once more chooses to avoid receiving help, and instead he takes two further steps towards his downfall. Firstly Obi and Clara decide to abort their baby. Here, they are both running away from responsibility – choosing to hide from their problems. This is the first ‘criminal offence’ that Obi takes upon himself. The quote ‘criminal offence’ is significant because they show that Obi’s financial difficulties and reluctance to receive help from others is turning him into a criminal. On the other hand, one could argue that they really had no choice – their relationship already had too many problems – from family rejection to their financial difficulties together – and having a baby would only make it worse. In another view, the fault could actually be put upon Clara. Instead of accepting the challenge of being ‘pioneers’ to create a more broad minded future – which was one of Obi’s objectives – Clara ignorantly refuses to carry things forward with Obi and returns the ring. Following this, she appears to hate Obi – so much so that she would never want to be the mother of his child. Obi’s

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