Okonkwo Tragic Flaw Essay

Decent Essays
“In ancient Chinese art, the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect” (L’engle). While everyone would like to believe that they are perfect, no one is born without a flaw. Some people have desirable qualities and admirable virtues that may seem like perfection, but underneath they have more serious flaws in their character. In Chinua Achebe’s literary work Things Fall Apart, the main character Okonkwo struggles with his hamartia, or fatal flaw. Born to a lazy, effeminate father, Okonkwo lives in constant fear of failing the same way his father, Unoka, did. In order to overcome the poverty incurred by his of his father’s choices, Okonkwo blocks off his heart and mind to a point where …show more content…
It is easier to see Okonkwo’s tragic flaw when he is compared to other characters in Things Fall Apart. Ikemefuna was a sensitive yet strong and well-rounded boy who served as a role model for Nwoye and Okonkwo’s other children. While Okonkwo was viewed as a leader in the grand scheme of things, he lacked compassion and could not lead by example well. Ezeudu, once the oldest man in the village, was a great warrior in his youth. He was also the one to warn Okonkwo against partaking in Ikemefuna’s sacrifice. Obviously, Okonkwo completely disregards his advice and cannot overcome his own fear of weakness to think rationally. Obierika is Okonkwo’s closest friend; he sells Okonkwo’s yams to provide him with money during his exile and comforts him when he is depressed. Like Nwoye, he questions some of the tribe’s traditional strictures and is open to change in his community if it is for the better. Okonkwo cannot comprehend how to console or care for anyone in need, other than himself. He is also completely closed off to the idea of change in his community. Okonkwo’s inability to adapt, express compassion, and act unrestricted by his fear of failure all compose his fatal flaw, and lead to his demise in a rapidly changing

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Since he does not plant crops and provide the food for his family, this leaves his son Okonkwo to assume the fatherly duties. Tribal customs hold no interest for him, since Unoka “was never happy when it came to wars. He was in fact a coward and could not bear the sight of blood.” (Achebe 6). Unoka’s aversion to blood and war in general is detrimental to the village’s needs thus reducing his contribution to society. As a result, he dies in shame.…

    • 1560 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Igbo Suicide

    • 1501 Words
    • 7 Pages

    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.…

    • 1501 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    “With a father like Unoka.” Achebe explains, “Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had,” which only motivates Okonkwo and. “in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father’s lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future” (Achebe 18). The struggles Unoka faced has only encouraged and motivated Okonkwo to become a more determined man. Although the lifestyle Unoka lived did not stop Okonkwo from achieving wealth and becoming a strong human being, it did influence the decisions that led to his rise in the clan of the village. Without watching the numerous struggles his father encountered, Okonkwo would not have aspired to get the best harvest he could get.…

    • 1002 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    A local townsman named Atticus Finch initially depicts the neglect Burris endures through a description of the boy's father. He states that Burris' father, Mr. Ewell, would rather “spen[d]” his "relief check[s]", or money, on green whiskey” than on food for his starving “children”. It is in this dismissal of his "children['s]", and thus Burris', needs that Mr. Ewell establishes the independence likely involved in Burris' home life. That is, his having to rely on himself due to the negligence of his father. The fallout of his self-reliance is most noticeably seen in his lack of education and poor temper—both of which are the result of minimal adult intervention.…

    • 648 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Howard is at fault in firing him but in response to Willy’s desperation he points a finger at Willy’s sons saying, “Where are your sons? ... You go to your sons and you tell them that you’re tired” (Miller 63). Howard feels it is Willy’s son’s responsibility to provide for their father, and feels he himself does not hold any duty to Willy. Be that as it may, Biff does not feel he can help Willy. He succumbs himself to believe he is unable to discipline himself according his father’s ways of success.…

    • 1414 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Okonkwo's Transformation

    • 1229 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Things Fall Apart If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe tells the story of a man named Okonkwo. He had to build his life from the ground up, due to the lack of support from his lazy, dishonorable father. In the Ibo culture a man was hardworking and independent. Okonkwo was a perfect representation of a true man.…

    • 1229 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    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…

    • 1021 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is dominated by his fear of weakness and failure. In the tribe where Okonkwo and his family live, Umuofia, the amount of honor and respect depends on your strength. Since early childhood, Okonkwo’s embarrassment about his lazy, poor and neglectful father, Unoka, has led to his tragic flaw; being terrified of looking weak like his father. As a result, he behaves rashly, bringing a great deal of trouble and sorrow upon himself and his family. Okonkwo’s fear of weakness and failure, which stemmed from his father, leads to the horrid and unmerited treatment he gives to those around him and eventually prompted his downfall.…

    • 950 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Majed

    • 1527 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Majid’s ‘desires’ are far from ‘hopes,’ emphasizing how by caring for nothing he voids himself of hope and possibilities, leaving empty space for despair to come and fill in. Despair stitches itself into Majid, becoming one with his personality and a permanent reminder of the unfortunate events and circumstances that shape his life. This is seen in his attitude and behavior, both which Majid’s mother scolds him for. She points out the flaws in Majid’s life choices and state of mind, wishing he would be more like his father was before the accident. This only increases the despair inside Majid because he is reminded of who his father no longer is and how Majid is expected to assume the role of provider.…

    • 1527 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Okonkwo wanted to be completely different from his father. This brings great effort, motivation and anger, and eventually it leads to crisis and destruction within his culture. Okonkwo has a constant fear of being like his father, this acts as a great motivator but affects himself within the community both positively and negatively. Okonkwo, in Things Fall Apart, represents the worst part of tribal life according to what the tribe values. He does immoral things because he always remembers his father's slothfulness.…

    • 714 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays