Essay about Things Fall Apart, Achebe's Odyssey

976 Words Feb 24th, 2006 4 Pages
In Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, the impact of British Colonialism in Africa is critiqued through the story of an Igbo man, Okonkwo. Okonkwo is an extremely masculine man who has but one fear, the fear of being weak. Throughout the novel, his actions are motivated by this fear which defines him characteristically as on overly masculine man. This over masculinity is Okonkwo's flaw and it drives his moods and actions, ultimately leading to his demise. In this respect, Okonkwo plays the role of a tragic hero driven by his flaw which leads to his downfall. Okonkwo, like the tragic hero's of Greek myth, was driven by a personal flaw which motivated his life decisions. He always had to be superior to others because "his life was …show more content…
He was displaying his manhood but punishing his wife for her failure. Also, Okonkwo exhibits his strength when it comes time for the death of the boy Ikemefuna. He demands to be part of the event and goes with the party of men selected to kill the young boy. When Ikemefuna realizes what is happening, he runs to Okonkwo and pleads for his life, but Okonkwo "was afraid of being thought weak" (p. 61) and raised his machete and struck down Ikemefuna. This had been a boy who had lived under his roof for the past three years and who called Okonkwo "father", yet Okonkwo strikes the boy down to protect his masculinity and preserve his status as a strong person within the clan. In his eyes, his two choices were to appear weak and not partake in the death of Ikemefuna, or be strong and participate in the brutal murder. In this case, he lets his fear of failure drive him to commit murder. Okonkwo continues to allow his paranoia to control his actions after he returns from exile and this leads to his downfall as he commits suicide at the end of the novel. Though Okonkwo had borne his exile with humility and pride, he returned to Umuofia the same man controlled by his fear of failure and weakness. Upon the destruction of the church (a product of the British Colonialism) in Umuofia, Okonkwo and five other leaders of the Umuofia community are imprisoned and humiliated by having their heads shaved and being beaten by the white guards. This provoked Okonkwo to such anger that

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