Okonkwo Essay

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Okonkwo Tragic Hero Essay

Slowly the men make their way up the hill with Obierika in the lead. Leaves crunch as feet uniformly step onto the ground. The commissioner and his soldiers are warily eyeing their surroundings. Each man snuggles close to Okonkwo's compound wall, hoping not to be seen. They go past a small bush. It is next to a red hole in the wall where small animals enter and exit the compound. Finally, the men all stop. They spot the body dangling from a tree. They stand upright in shock. The carcass of Okonkwo steadily swings in the breeze. As each man looks upon it disbelievingly, Obierika says to the commissioner heatedly, "That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself, and now he will be buried like a dog…" (page 207). In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the main character of Okonkwo displays many different aspects of his personality that lead to this moment. Even though Okonkwo is in a society that forbids suicide, for many reasons he chooses to end his life this way. Thus, Okonkwo becomes a tragic hero, and at the end of the book, he takes his own life to end his pain.

Two of the characteristics of a tragic hero are that the person is of high birth and his actions affect the nation. "Unoka, for that was his father's name, had died ten years ago. In his day he was lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow" (page 4). High birth can be a miracle or a curse, high birth comes with the ability to achieve the impossible and this is Okonkwo's focus in life. Unoka to Okonkwo is a failure and he strives to be the exact opposite of his father and make a name for himself apart from his fathers. "Unoka loved it all, and he loved the first kites that returned with the dry season, and the children who sang songs of welcome to them" (page 5). The happiness that Unoka enjoys is not the result of high birth it is because of his love for the simple moments in life and the music that flows...
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