Okonkwo's Foil

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Diana DeBernardis, 5
Mr. Rosenberry
Honors English 11
December 19, 2012
Okonkwo’s Foil
“Opposites attract.” This is a very cliché quote used by physicists and other scientific personnel, but it rings true in many different ways. In literature, the correct term for a character that sets off or enhances another character by contrast is called a “foil.” Pairs of characters that are foils to each other have very opposing views and personalities, but their presence with each other illustrates the qualities in a better light. The book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a fictional novel which includes a main character named Okonkwo. Okonkwo has some very distinguishing features about him, but the fact that he has a foil in the novel makes his features more noticeable. In Things Fall Apart, Obierika is a foil to Okonkwo. Okonkwo is very strong-minded, dogmatic, and hot-tempered, while Obierika is very calm, easy-going, and composed. To start off, Obierika is a foil to Okonkwo because Obierika is very calm, easy-going, and composed. In the story, Obierika is very relaxed with everything and does not get frustrated easily. If something does not go his way, he waits for the course of nature to play out. For example, when the Oracle called for Ikemefuna to be killed, Obierika stayed behind. He stayed behind and did not want anything to do with the death of Ikemefuna. When Okonkwo asked Obierika why he did not go to kill the man, Obierika answered with great wit. “’Because I did not want to… I had something better to do… Why should I? But the Oracle did not ask me to carry out its decision’” (Achebe 66). These quotes from the passage of the novel shows that Obierika did not want to intrude on a matter that he did not believe he should intrude on. He is not obsessed with having power and being the mightiest person. Along with being easy-going and calm, Obierika is a foil to Okonkwo because he is not obsessed with power and being mighty. In the story, Obierika’s son,...
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