The Clash Between Okonkwo and His Society

Topics: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Igbo people Pages: 4 (1419 words) Published: November 6, 2007
A famous philosopher named Aristotle once said, "He who is unable to live in a society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god" (Moncur ). Ever since the first humans, people have sought to live and grow where other people are. This organization of people living together as a community is called a society. For the members of it, society furnishes protection, continuity, security and identity. Without a society to be a part of, man is nothing. Therefore, if a man comes into conflict with his society, he must either accept these differences or be destroyed. This nightmare comes to life in Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, when the main character, Okonkwo, clashes with his society's beliefs. The conflict that exists between Okonkwo and his society is what ultimately leads him to his downfall.

Very early on, Okonkwo disagrees with many of his culture's most important values. These are held sacred in his clan, and have been practiced generations before him. The clan practices these values because they are tributes to the gods and goddesses. They are practiced as signs of respect for these deities in order to not make them angry. Achebe emphasizes the importance of being respectful, "a man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness" (Achebe 19). If a man shows respect, the clan will commend him for it and he too will one day be great. One of these values is the Week of Peace. The Week of Peace occurs during the carefree season between the harvest and the planting of the yams. During this week, every clansman is obligated to remain peaceful with one another. No one may fight each other, and husbands may not beat their wives or their children. If the peace is broken during this sacred week, the offender must face severe punishment. They are considered an abomination to the earth goddess and cannot escape her wrath. Another unique value arises when a prominent member of the clan is murdered...
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