Okonkwo's Characterization In Things Fall Apart

Decent Essays
Okonkwo’s Characterization in Things Fall Apart Things Fall Apart is a novel by Chinua Achebe that tells a story of the Igbo people in the Lower Niger being taken over by Christian missionaries. The main character in the story is Okonkwo. He is characterized by the traditions and culture of the Igbo people. Okonkwo is portrayed as a proud, militant, cruel but caring person. Achebe represents a theme that a character like Okonkwo who is proud and cruel, can also be caring by having the readers sympathize for Okonkwo by his reactions to the killing of Ikemefuna, his daughter becoming sick, his exile, and his suicide. Okonkwo’s character is displayed through a repeating pattern of hardship, then an aggressive reaction. Okonkwo …show more content…
Then, he is told that Ikemefuna has to be killed. Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna out of fear of being thought of as weak. Okonkwo is even told by Ezeudu, “That boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death” (Achebe 61). Okonkwo goes against his friend’s word, but he feels absolutely awful about it. He has guilt about killing Ikemefuna, and he also has guilt about disobeying the person who told him not to “bear a hand in his death” (Achebe 61). After the boy’s death, “Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days” (Achebe 67). This makes the readers nearly forget that Okonkwo killed him. The readers sympathize for him like someone had just taken his son away from him, though truly Okonkwo killed him. This other side of Okonkwo is seldom shown, but they are placed at perfect times in the story. Just when readers begin to forget that Okonkwo has a heart, Achebe reminds his audience of Okonkwo’s caring side. Not long after Ikemefuna’s death, in the middle of the night, one of Okonkwo’s wives, Ekwefi, came into his obi and stated “Ezinma is dying” …show more content…
This kills one of his clansmen, which is a crime to the earth goddess. The immediate thoughts are about how awful it is that Okonkwo killed a boy. However, it creates sympathy for Okonkwo since it was a terrible accident. According to Umuofia’s laws, Okonkwo’s crime is “the female, because it had been inadvertent. He could return to the clan after seven years” (Achebe 123). Okonkwo is sent away with only what he can carry while everything else is burned to the ground. The punishment brings readers back to the story of how Okonkwo comes to be so respected in Umuofia. He started with sharecropping since his father had no yams to give him, and in “the year that Okonkwo took eight hundred seed yams from Nwakibie was the worst year in living memory” (Achebe 31). He had faced so much to become respected and successful, and now he has to start from nothing and rebuild his life. This creates sympathy for Okonkwo because the readers have seen his hardships, and they see his guilt of killing the boy. The readers are so close to Okonkwo and his family by this time in the book that it is almost as if they packing up and moving with them. Every person makes mistakes in their lives, and it is unfortunate when those mistakes end up hurting someone

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