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Things Fall Apart

Uploaded by smartchic123 on Feb 05, 2004

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart tells the dramatic story of one Nigerian man whose life is dominated by anger and fear. The main character, Okonkwo, struggles with his desire to be the opposite of his father, and is destroyed when all the things that he worked for to earn respect are suddenly no longer valued by his peers. Ikemefuna’s death, Nwoye’s religious conversion, and Okonkwo’s own suicide demonstrate Okonkwo’s life-dominating fear of failure and weakness.

Ikemefuna’s death clearly reveals Okonkwo’s fear of being considered weak. “Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.” Although Okonkwo loved Ikemefuna, fear was the more dominant emotion that pushed Okonkwo to kill the person who called him father. He was deeply touched by Ikemefuna’s death, however Okonkwo cared more about what others thought of him than a human life. Ikemefuna’s death also shows that Okonkwo’s bridled feelings about his “son” were too feminine, and therefore, too weak to be openly displayed. If Okonkwo hadn’t killed Ikemefuna, not only would be thought weak for not killing him, it would have been assumed that he loved him, and any display of emotion was considered a sign of frailty. His fear of being thought weak is clearly revealed through Ikemefuna’s death.

Nwoye’s conversion visibly demonstrates Okonkwo’s fear of failure and weakness. After Okonkwo learned of his son’s abandonment of his ancestral gods, he cried out in his heart, “ Why…should he… be cursed with such a son?” Okonkwo’s anxiety about Nwoye came from the shame he felt when he discovered he had a traitor for a son. He felt embarrassed that he had a weak son and he was ashamed that he had failed to train Nwoye to like himself. “…Nwoye resembled his grandfather, Unoka, who was Okonkwo’s father.” Okonkwo had prided himself on the fact that he was the opposite of his father, who was a failure. However, to have a son such as Nwoye, revealed that Okonkwo felt that he had somehow failed as a father. His son’s religious conversion clearly reveals his fear of failure and weakness.

Okonkwo’s fear of failure greatly contributed to his suicide. After his return to Umuofia, from his seven-year exile, Okonkwo discovered that the days of his fame and glory were gone. Everything within the clan was changed, and with those changes came the realization that his...

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Uploaded by:   smartchic123

Date:   02/05/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (544 words)

Views:   2209

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