Okonkwo – Things Fall Apart – Literature Essay (100 Level Course)
At the end of the book Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, the main character, Okonkwo, is driven to commit suicide. This suggests that Okonkwo’s character was overwhelmed and frustrated. All throughout the text, Okonkwo says how he hates his father for not being there for him during his childhood.
His father was a carefree man who loved to talk and play on his flute.
He was a debtor who could talk his way out of anything. In this culture, if you are not strong and can’t provide for your family, you are called an agbala, or a woman. Okonkwo was embarrassed that his father was a man of no title, so from an early age he swore to himself that he would do everything he could to be a powerful warrior and man of influence in his clan. In the African Ibo culture, a man is thought of as weak if he is sensitive and expresses his feelings.
Strong, powerful warriors can take anything, and nothing can make them cry. Unfortunately, when a person keeps his/her feelings inside for so many years, they can lose control. They become angry, violent, and hateful. He often beat his wives and children and Okonkwo believed that violence was the only way to resolve a conflict. At the end of the text, Okonkwo is very upset that the new white men have destroyed the Ibo culture traditions, but he refuses to let out his feelings.
This leads to Okonkwo killing one of the white man’s messengers. He becomes so upset, and feels that he would rather die then follow the white man’s new culture. Ultimately, Okonkwo’s efforts to keep his feelings bottled up inside so he is not like his father, leads to his destruction and shows that Okonkwo’s character is overwhelmed and frustrated.