Okonkwo character analysis essay

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Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It was like the pulsation of its heart. Any time Achebe mentions the sound of the drums, Umuofian society is functioning properly. Every clansman knew his place and purpose in life; the tribe worked together, functioning as a single unit. Indeed, the drums seemed to have Umuofia under a spell. However, the constant repetition of the drum imagery before the European missionaries arrive stands in stark contrast to the lack of drums throughout the latter half of the novel. After the Christian missionaries arrive in Umuofia, they immediately begin to evangelize the locals.

One method they used to captivate the tribesmen was to sing hymns. And pluck at Umuofian hearts the missionaries did. No doubt, the missionaries believed that they were bringing salvation water to a savage people living in the desert. When Okonkwo returns from his seven year exile, he finds the Europeans dominating Umuofian culture—even controlling the Umuofian government. The tribal unity has been shattered.

Literature Essay Sample: Okonkwo as a Hero in Things Fall Apart | clasnonttankbu.cf

Family ties—once so important in Umuofian society—are now nearly meaningless. In this clash between tradition and change, change was the clear-cut winner. Okonkwo is motivated by a desire to prove himself superior to his father, who was cowardly and irresponsible and died a poor man with many unpaid debts. He viewed his father as overly pensive, slow to act, and effeminate womanly.


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Therefore, Okonkwo adopts opposite traits; Okonkwo is rash, quick to act, and excessively violent Okonkwo associates violence with masculinity. Achebe uses figurative language like metaphors and similes to compare Okonkwo to a fire. Okonkwo's fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan. Okonkwo gained power and importance in Umuofian society by burning lesser people as fuel. He continued to burn strong into adulthood.

As his fame and popularity increased, Okonkwo pursued his ideal of masculinity. Okonkwo constantly distanced himself from anything even remotely feminine.

Things Fall Apart Analysis

He constantly reminded himself of his masculinity and strove to make sure all his clansmen knew of it as well. Like a fire, Okonkwo is violent, and burns whatever he touches. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo nags on his wives and son, beats his family, and kills three innocent people—not to mention himself, as well. In many cases, he hurts his family for trivial reasons. He beat Nwoye again when he discovered him helping women with their household tasks. As the Europeans gained influence and political clout in the Umuofian government, Okonkwo saw his own power and influence at risk.

Things Fall Apart

Whenever he breaks them — either deliberately through a loss of temper or inadvertently as in shooting the boy — he never questions the punishments brought upon him. Okonkwo abides by his punishment whether or not he thinks they are fair. This is one way of maintaining his honor and reputation. He reads the laws literally, unlike his father who bent the rules and tried to circumvent certain aspects of the law.

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His final act of suicide is the ultimate demonstration of things falling apart because it is the first and only time that Okonkwo purposefully and calculatedly breaks the clan laws. As a character, Okonkwo remains pretty consistent throughout the book.


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Okonkwo, whose sense of pride and dignity continues until the end, chooses to live and die on his own terms rather than submit to the white man. For Okonkwo, giving in would be against so much of what he has stood for — courage, tradition, and manliness. All rights reserved. Topics Character Roles Protagonist, Antagonist Tools of Characterization. Cite This Page. Logging out…. Logging out You've been inactive for a while, logging you out in a few seconds I'm Still Here!


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