Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Things Fall Apart (by Chinua Achebe)
Who is Okonkwo?
Although his father was a lazy man who earned no titles in the Ibo tribe, Okonkwo is a great man in his home of Umuofia, a group of nine villages. Okonkwo hated his father and did everything he could to be nothing like his father. As a young man, Okonkwo began building his social status by defeating a great wrestler, pushing him into society's eye. He is hard working and shows no weakness, emotional or otherwise to anyone. Although direct with his family and his neighbors, he is wealthy, courageous, and powerful among his village. He is a leader of his village, and this place in society is what he has competed for his entire life.
Okonkwo’s Envy for reputation
Because of his great honor in the village, Okonkwo is selected by the elders to be the guardian of Ikemefuna, a boy taken prisoner by the tribe as a peace settlement between two villages. Ikemefuna is to stay with Okonkwo until the Oracle instructs the elders on what to do with the boy. For three years, the boy lives with Okonkwo’s family and they grow fond of him, he even considers Okonkwo his father. Then the elders decide that the boy must be killed, and the oldest man in the village warns Okonkwo to have nothing to do with the murder because it would be like killing his own child. Rather than seeming weak and feminine to the other men of the tribe, Okonkwo helps to kill the boy despite the warning from the old man.
Things began to fall apart for Okonkwo
Shortly after Ikemefuna’s death, things begin to go wrong for Okonkwo and when he accidentally kills someone at a funeral ceremony, he and his family are sent into exile for seven years to appease the gods he has offended with the murder. While Okonkwo is away in exile, white men begin coming to Umuofia and they peaceably introduce their religion. As the number of converts increases, the foothold of the white people grows beyond their religion and a new government is introduced.
His return to the village and the control of it by the white men Okonkwo returns to his village after his exile to find it a changed place because of the presence of white men. He and other tribal leaders try to reclaim their hold on their native land by destroying a local Christian church that has insulted their gods and religion. In return, the leader of the white government takes them prisoner and holds them for ransom for a short while, further humiliating and insulting the native leaders. The people of Umuofia finally gather for what could be a great uprising, and when some messengers of the white government try to stop their meeting, Okonkwo kills one of them. He realizes with despair that the people of Umuofia are not going to fight to protect themselves because they let the other messengers escape and so all is lost for the Ibo tribe.
When the local leader of the white government comes to Okonkwo's house to take him to court, he finds that Okonkwo has hanged himself, ruining his great reputation.
Description of characters
Okonkwo: Known as a courageous and wealthy man throughout his tribe, Okonkwo is a severe man who often resorts to violence to make his points understood. He hated his father, Unoka, because he was a lazy borrower. Okonkwo made it a point in his life to set himself apart from his father by being well known and wealthy as well as becoming a great warrior in the tribal conflicts of Umuofia and the surrounding villages. Unoka: Okonkwo's father, he was a dishonorable weak and borrower who preferred playing his flute to working and piled up large debts among his neighbors before his death. Unoka was a source of embarrassment for his son because of his laziness, and so Okonkwo made something of himself in reaction to his hate for his father. Ikemefuna: A boy of a neighbor village who was chosen as a sacrifice to avoid war with Umuofia. Ikemefuna was left in Okonkwo's care...
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