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Critical Analysis Of Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

Theme: Destiny, Fear



If you were from a poor family, you have no education, you surrounded by narrow
minded community, you are on your own. Would you like to live your life that way or you
find a way to change for a brighter future? Same thing happened to Okonkwo, the main
character in one of the Chinua Achebe famous novel called Things Fall Apart. He
become the man he was because he fight for it however throughout his life he struggle
with so many things which lead me to the themes of destiny and fear in this novel.
Fear is a part of our life, it has always been humans enemy and we can never
escape from it. However this negative dominant emotion has ironically contributes in
shaping our destiny.
Okonkwo the greatest man in Umofia had achieved so many things at a young age.
Thus, he became a proud man and had this belief that he control his own destiny.
Which is define as something that will happen to someone in the future, especially those
that cannot be changed or controlled which was differs from Okonkwo belief.
To begin with, Achebe illustrated that
Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi say yes also. Okonkwo
said yes very strongly, so his chi agreed.
(Achebe,C4,pg27)
It explained why Okonkwo was very firm that he controlled his own destiny, because he
was able to gain everything he wanted with his own effort. For example in the beginning
of the novel we see his first achievement in beating Amalinze The Cat an unbeaten
wrestler for 7 years. He even have the honour to sit and eat with the kings and elder
where usually only oldest elder have the honour. However the proverb

if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings and elders
(Achebe. C1,pg 8)

A clear imagery to hands that are dirty but if it wash, the image will transfom. Likewise,
it means that as soon as you take your action to clean your reputation you can take
your rightful place in your society which was happening to Okonkwo.

He was more convinced when he succeed in standing on his own feet after his father
failure. This is because the society had been resembled him like his father since he was
a little boy as potrayed when
he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father
was Agbala
(Achebe,C2,pg12)
A well known title for not only another name of a woman but also a man with no title.
He proved to people that he was not a failure like his father and the possibility that
destiny can change was true. One example of comparison that we can see between
Unoka and Okonkwo was when Okonkwo was as a man of action while his father
cannot even look at blood that show how weak he was. A father is a role model to us
and through him we see the future us. With that image in mind, Okonwko was inspired
to change for a better future.
Yet, his destiny still changed even though he thought he had full control of it when he
had accidently shot a boy during a funeral proving that if he had controlled over his
destiny he should had stopped the accident but a man can never control his own
destiny and it was shown.
From the beginning of this novel it has been said that Okonkwo is very brave and
courageous, nothing can scared him. For example he was the leader of 9 clan and
Achebe potrayed him as strong character as
he had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars.
(Achebe. C1,pg 8)

He was a man of masculinity. However for me deep down he is a vulnerable man. This
brings me to the theme of fear. This is because Okonkwo was haunted by fear. First
and foremost he was in fear of himself, he was afraid to have tenderness because thats
what his father had and his father turns out to be a failure. He was scared that hell
resemble his father. As portrayed in chapter two
Okonkwo was ruled by one passion- to hate everything that his father,
Unoka had loved.
(Achebe. C2,pg 13)
His hate towards gentleness can be shown when Okonkwo beat Ojiugo because she
went to plait her hair. He did that because any man who cannot control his wife in Igbo
tribe is considered weak and being weak is synonym with his father. He does not want
the tribe to look at him as his father.
Other prove that he was in fear was when he strike Ikemefuna to death in chapter 7, a
boy who he had taken care for 3 years and he even had an affection towards him. Yet,
he killed him because he was scared of being thought as powerless by the community.
As potrayed by Chinua Achebe
He was afraid of being taught weak
(Achebe. C7,pg 61)

With these two themes analyzed, it has come to our realization that Okonkwo was in
fear that his great destiny will change but eventually it is what have ironically shape his
destiny from the beginning until the end. For example he started being from nothing to
something because he was in fear of being like his father. Then when he have
successfully become the man he wants, with the same fear that he obsessed he made
so many mistakes and one of the consequences was he had to be out casted from the
village and start all over again.

From these two themes I learnt that we have to stop worrying and start living. As a
student we always frighten by failure and we will do anything to prevent it from
happening without realizing that we are missing the joy of being a student. We cannot
expect everything to be perfect, sometimes we have to deal with what did. It is life
experience and it prepared us to be more conscious. Just like Eliot Wiggington said that
Life isnt worth living unless youre willing to take some big chances and go for broke.
We just have to let it loose and stop thinking about the consequences. Then we will
have balance in our life and we will live in a harmony life.
(1081 words)