Okonkwo Essay

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Okonkwo Essay,
English 2 H.

In his novel, Chinua Achebe takes the reader to the world of the Igbo tribe during the pre-imperialism Victorian era. Okonkwo, the main character, was a highly respected member of the Igbo tribe. He is the caretaker of a child, but with a stroke of irony, ends up killing him. After an accident, he and his family are forced into exile. By the time he returns, the Igbo tribe has undergone many changes. He finds these changes to his life and culture to be overwhelming, and thus takes his own life. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo's words demonstrate his inner conflicts, his troubled past with his family, and his superiority complex. Okonkwo is a very conflicted individual because, throughout the novel he demonstrates severe internal discord. Achebe comments,"Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness" (13). Despite all of his showy manliness, deep down inside Okonkwo is ruled by fear. He is afraid of coming off feminine and weak, like his father before him. He feels the need to surpass his father in every way, and does whatever he can to ensure his dominance. Okonkwo did not have a very warm upbringing. His harsh childhood is arguably the main reason Okonkwo is the way he is. "Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men usually had. He did not inherit a barn from his father. There was no barn to inherit." (Page 16) His father proves unable to provide for his family, and in Igbo society, is looked upon as a bad father. This compels Okonkwo to be a better man than his father, but in some senses he takes it too far, and becomes a tyrant in his own home. "Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye, was then twelve years old but was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness. At any rate, that was how it looked to his father, and he sought to correct him by constant nagging and beating. And so Nwoye was developing into a...
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