Things Fall Apart (1-4)

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Things Fall Apart (Chapters 1-4)

Conflict between tradition and change

“Okonkwo did not have the start in life in which many young men usually had. He did not inherit a barn from his father. There was no barn to inherit” (Achebe 16). Traditionally in Umuofia, when a man dies, his son inherits his assets. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was scared by the sight of blood, in an immense amount of debt and did not support his family. As a result of Okonkwo’s father having no title, Okonkwo was left with nothing when his father died. After the death of his father, Okonkwo decides he will not fail like his father and instead, will make a name for himself. Okonkwo makes a name for himself by building his wealth, having a barn filled with yams, being a skilled warrior, marrying three women, and having eight children. Because Okonkwo has surpassed his father, and many of the other men in his village, his excessive amount of pride sometimes gets in the way of his feelings, and gives others a less than perfect image of him.

Differing views of masculinity

“His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew crops, like coco-yams, beans, and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop” (Achebe 22). Okonkwo began supporting his family at an early age. Although his mother and sisters worked hard by cropping, they could not grow yams because of the amount of work required. Since he was young, Okonkwo knew that he had to make up for the flaws of his father, and therefore felt it necessary to be the sole supporter of his family. In many cultures, the man of the house is the supporter of the family and the enforcer of rules and expectations. I believe that being the man of the house gave Okonkwo a feeling of validation and increased his pride, which later led to his complete and total control his wives and children.

Okonkwo’s hubris

“His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to...
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