Things fall apart

Okonkwo Personal Response

In the novel ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is portrayed as an extremely driven and respected man. Okonkwo has a few bad flaws; his obsession to be the opposite to his father and his uncontrollable temper. All of his hard work and excellence comes to ruins when he is exiled from Umofia which starts his treacherous downfall. Prior to western influence Okonkwo was portrayed as respectful and determined in many ways. As it explains in the novel “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements” (3). Okonkwo had a very high ranking in his tribe, you can tell this when the author writes “Okonkwo of Umofia at Mbaino as the proud imperious emissary of war. He was treated with great honor and respect, and two days later, he returned home with a lad of 15 and a virgin” (12). Okonkwo being selected the emissary of war and returning  with a boy and a virgin represents authority and respect because if it was someone else from the village, the village of Mbaino could easily have fought back and started a war. When Okonkwo heard that Nwoye had left his family to convert to christianity he was furious and explained to his children “You have all seen the great abomination of your brother, now he is no longer my son or your brother. I will only have a son who is a man, who will hold his head among my people” (172). Disowning his son over him converting to christianity, shows how much hate he has for christianity and new ideas. Okonkwo wants to start a war with the christians to make sure they never come back, as he says “Their fathers had never dared to stand before our ancestors. We must fight these men and drive them from the land” (176). Okonkwo is also stating that the tribe is so soft now days, not like their ancestors were. Okonkwo’s stubbornness to accepting this new religion had many severe consequences. He had lost all support from his clan, he figured this when he spoke at the meeting about war and no one supported or agreed with him. Having no support, he took matters into his own hands, “Okonkwo drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless. Okonkwo’s machete descended twice and the man’s head lay beside his unformed body” (204). After he killed this messenger he realised he is going to be hunted down and and his clan will be doomed, So he did something extremely frowned upon by his clan , taking his own life. Suicide is one of the worst things a man can do in Umofia as obierika says “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen. His body is evil and only a stranger may touch it. This is why we ask your people to bring him [Okonkwo] Down, because you are strangers” (207) . Okonkwo came from nothing, he rose to become an honorable and respected leader of Umofia, but Okonkwo has a tragic flaw, a fear of weakness, having similarities to his father and his uncontrollable temper. Even though Okonkwo starts his life an amazing man of Umofia, due to his terrible flaws, it shows even great men can fall from high status to an embarrassment to his community.2

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  1. Hi Finn. Ensure that this response is complete and that you have included your personal reflections about the details.

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