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Things Fall Apart Essay

Thing Fall Apart is a novel by Chinua Achebe. In the novel, the Ibo people, a

nation in lower Africa, are colonized by the Umofia, an Ibo tribe, is the home of

Okonkwo, the protagonist. Okonkwo falls victim to his virtues throughout the novel. He

is hardworking, masculine, and honorable; he loses everything because of it.

Okonkwo is a very diligent man. His harvests are some of the best in Umofia.

This, however, hindered him from enjoying almost anything besides work. Before and

during feasts, he does not rejoice, only thinks of work, and his desire to be working. He

becomes quite enraged, because he considers the work for it wasteful. While preparing

for a feast that is quickly approaching, Okonkwo, for no reason, unleashes his anger on

his wife, Ekwefi. “‘Who killed this banana tree?’ he asked…. As a matter of fact, the tree

was very much alive. Okonkwo’s second wife merely cut a few leaves off it to wrap some

food, and she said so. Without further argument Okonkwo gave her a sound beating and

left her and her daughter weeping” (38).

Okonkwo is very masculine. He enjoys, and typically excels in, doing manly

things. He is renowned for beating Amalinze the Cat, undefeated for seven years, in a

wrestling match. He lacks balance, however, and throws away his feminine side better

then he throws Amalinze. He leaves no room for sympathy or compassion. This causes

his first born Nwoye, an effeminate man, to run away. He receives only beatings from his

father. Nwoye heard some very upsetting news, that his beloved step-brother Ikemefuna

was to return back home. “Nwoye overheard it and burst into tears, whereupon his father

beat him heavily” (57). There was nothing beautiful about Okonkwo, and when given the
option to run away to something full of beauty, the Christian’s message of brotherhood,

he ran at the chance.

Okonkwo is honored highly throughout Umofia. His harvests are worthy of envy.

He is strong, and is a good wrestler and warrior. Okonkwo prizes himself on his honor,

and will do anything to keep it. The oracle has proclaimed that Ikemefuna must be killed.

Ikemefuna, Okonkwo’s step-son. The man who calls him father. Okonkwo’s friend,

Ezeudu, the oldest and wisest man in the village, tells him not to participate. Okonkwo, in

fear of looking cowardly, ignores reason and wisdom. “He heard Ikemefuna cry ‘My

father, they have killed me!’ as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his

machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being though weak” (61).

Okonkwo is a man who believes strongly in his convictions. He stands by them,

no matter what. Sometimes they benefit him, other times, they ruin him. His life is an

empty one. He lacks internal homeostasis, and commits atrocities because of it.