Okonkwo Culture Analysis

1092 Words 5 Pages
Culture is an imperative aspect of any functioning society and must be maintained for it to survive. People grow up with beliefs and opinions on what is right and wrong. Each individual in a community lives their lives as their customs and culture dictate they should. When others of diverging schools of thought come in to change that established culture; people get defensive. Beyond this, the very fabric of their society begins to crumble. Okonkwo was very passionate about his beliefs on power, leadership, and the ways of his people, because he grew in a society that shaped every aspect of who he became. When this society dissolved under the weight of imposing European culture, his identity faded along side it. Okonkwo’s experiences throughout …show more content…
As it was said it the book, “He was a man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood. In Umuofia’s latest war he was the first to bring home a human head.” (Achebe, 10) He wanted to prove to his community that he was a leader and a warrior. In order to do that, he worked harder than any other in his tribe. This drive, spurred on by the reputation of his father, sent Okonkwo on a quest for redemption. His father, as Okonkwo remembers, was lazy, neglecting both crops and finances. He reportedly borrowed money from his fellow tribe members without ever managing to pay back his debt. He even died from a shameful illness. In response, Okonkwo strove to accumulate for himself, a bountiful and self-sustained living. “Fortunately among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father. Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things.” (Achebe, 8) His father’s incompetence fueled Okonkwo’s fire to never be week or shameful. His desire to distance himself from his father’s legacy even spilled into his own parenting. When his son Nwoye, demonstrated the slightest sign of laziness, he would beat and nag on the boy constantly. Okonkwo view of the world mirrored that of his culture. His society’s views of work ethic, and the generational shame left to him by his father, produced in Okonkwo, a man who defined his worth through the eyes of his community. Everything Okonkwo stood …show more content…
“Okonkwo ruled his house with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper.” (Achebe, 13) He would beat his wives if they showed disrespect or disobedience, using much more force than necessary to instill his dominance; a practice that as more missionaries poured in, was beginning to filter out. “But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess.” (Achebe, 30) According to the old ways, women of the tribe were considered weak and incapable. The idea of women gaining status in the tribe was a completely foreign concept and represented an era of change. The onslaught of this change was driven home in Okonkwo when Nwoye ran away with the European Missionaries. Okonkwo went so far as to disowned him, calling his flesh and blood an abomination. “I will not have a son who cannot hold up his head in the gathering of the clan. I would sooner strangle him with my own hands.” (Achebe, 33) This shows how desperately he depended on his culture for his very identity. He would rather preserve his honor than condone the necessary changes to maintain a relationship with his

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