Commentary on Things Fall Apart's Okonkwo and Unoka

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My focus will be on the relationship between Unoka and Okonkwo. I chose that topic because it is interesting to find out how father and son can differ in so many ways. Eventhough they are directly blood related, Unoka and Okonkwo have a very different characteristic. Unoka the father was a very lazy and wasteful man, while Okonkwo is everything Unoka was not. Many people have been asking the same question on this strange matter since they are more familiar with the saying ‘like father, like son’. But Okonkwo is different, since he was a child; he has been through neglected-like situation. He has spent days without food, and received all the teases and jokes of unoka’s incapabilities which were thrown upon him. He then became traumatized of unoka’s figure, and trying to be someone Unoka was not. The novel opens up with the description of Okonkwo’s greatness, and then followed by the description of Unoka’s failure. This contradictory structured informs the reader about the power Okonkwo possesses upon Unoka. Unoka was an irresponsible man. He never took care of his own family. The very beginning of his description says that whenever he has money, he would spend it to satisfy his own redundant needs. He is not at all a father figure for Okonkwo and his sisters. Not being a protector, he did not even want to give out any sweat to feed his family, and he has a huge collection of debts. During his life, he never took a title and, therefore, never gained status or respect from the villagers. When he died he inherited absolutely nothing to Okonkwo. This way, Okonkwo has deleted Unoka from being a father. Okonkwo who had felt all the humilitation caused by Unoka, has clearly understood the importance of title and power in order to gain respect from all. After the death of Unoka, Okonkwo was re-borned and transformed into a power-craze man. He experienced enough of sorrow in his childhood, and those experiences shaped him into the cold-hearted human being. He believes that showing gentle emotion other than anger is a fatal mistake which leads to failure, so then he never showed any emotion except anger. So it is Unoka himself who has made Okonkwo the person he is now. By being lazy and improvident, Unoka has been the clown of the village but Okonkwo got humiliated as well for being a son of a failure. As written in page 22 chapter three ‘It was like pouring grains of corn into a bag full of holes’ Okonkwo refers to his share cropping hardwork in supporting his mother and sisterThe change in Okonkwo’s point of view about title less man is totally understandable, because basically Okonkwo forced himself to fully hate everything Unoka ever loved. By hating laziness and pilling debts, he reached success and gain power and respect; he became so full of himself, for he thinks that what he did (oppose the idea of his father) is undeniably right. But Okonkwo does not hate only laziness and debts, he also become a hater of music, gentleness, affection, which made him a rude, violent, and oppose music. Mr. Achebe uses a lot of ‘inwardly’ word, to describe his inner feeling that Okonkwo is afraid to expose like his fondness of ikemefuna and ezinma, in contrast if it is an anger feeling that he wants to show, he then just suddenly explode, blaming each and everything that have gotten into his way. He has believed in himself too much, and thinks that other should also believe in what he thinks is right. He has become unable to adapt to a changing society which leads to his destruction. What did Unoka think about Okonkwo? There is a very little and the only conversation that is written in the novel about Unoka and Okonkwo, Unoka said “Do not despair. I know you will not despair. You have a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and bitterer when a man fails alone.” But Okonkwo was too furious, because Unoka’s action was very contrast with his...
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