Theme Of Fear Of Okonkwo

950 Words 4 Pages
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.
The fear of being anything like his father has been within Okonkwo since
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Because of this fear Okonkwo believes that he constantly has to be powerful and strong in every aspect of his life otherwise, he would be just like his father. This belief leads to the horrible and unfair treatment of the people around him. Not only does Okonkwo treat his fellow tribe members with disrespect but, he also abuses his wives and children. So much that at one point in the passage, Okonkwo gave his wife “a sound beating and left her and her only daughter weeping” (Achebe 38) after blaming his wife for killing a banana tree. Okonkwo is too focused on not showing any emotions or weakness once exhibited by his father that he abuses his family to cover it up just like he did at that point. Another example is when Okonkwo thought that his son was unmotivated and weak, so he went right to “nagging and beating” (2.3) instead of loving his son, being too afraid to show the “womanly traits” once shown by his father. All of this, shows the facade that Okonkwo creates in order to make him look powerful and strong. This facade causes him to completely disregard his disgusting treatment towards …show more content…
Toward the end of the passage, Okonkwo is broken down and begins to realize his true self. He does many horrible things to prove himself and his strength because, he is too afraid of again, looking weak like his father. Although Okonkwo does many horrible things because of his fear, he is also an avid keeper of the igbo culture. Okonkwo spends seven years in exile out of Umuofia after accidentally killing a boy of the tribe. We are told that “he saw himself taking the highest title of the land.” (Achebe 20.2) when he returns to Umuofia. He always kept a thought of going back to Umuofia and being a strong, higher figure in the back of his mind. Upon his return back to Umuofia, Okonkwo realizes that the whole society has changed and the tribe has been overtaken by missionaries from Europe, converting people to Christianity. Okonkwo says “how are men no more” (200), showing how he felt as though he was the only one left in Umuofia who wasn’t following the Christian missionaries. It first seems that Okonkwo has changed and is okay with someone else being in power. But, that quickly changes when Okonkwo’s aggression and fear takes over again. This aggression and fear push him to retaliate against the missionaries. “Okonkwo’s machete descended twice and the man's head lay beside his uniformed body” (Achebe 24.39) This is basically Okonkwo’s last straw and it pushes him to the edge. He has no powerful role

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