Things Fall Apart

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In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, there are unceasing tragic events that lead up to the death of the main character, Okonkwo. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo seems to be ‘falling apart’ as events intensify. At first, it was just his fear of becoming an ‘agbala’ like his father, and then it escalated on to killing his adopted son, Ikemefuna, to his exile to Mbanta, the arrival of the Christians and the white men, and ending with his devastating death. The question is, was Okonkwo’s death to no avail? According to the events following the murder of the court messenger, Okonkwo did die in vain. The way the Umofians reacted after the murder, and how the situation turned out to be, clearly show that his death was unsuccessful and worthless.

After Okonkwo murdered the court messenger, the Umofians reacted a completely different way than he thought they would. At the end of Chapter 24, Okonkwo explains his attempt at starting a war with the white men as ineffective because the Umofians had “let the other messengers escape. They had broken into tumult instead of action” (188). He had been trying to defend his clan and his traditions from being eradicated by the white men and Christianity, but his effort was to no avail. His passion and dedication to protect their Igbo traditions might not have been for the right reasons, though. From the beginning, Okonkwo had always been “afraid of being thought weak” (59), so to show his manliness and superiority, he prefers to defend his values and tradition as an act of self-preservation, than submit to a new world full of strange laws and a new order. Without the action of the Umofians, his murder of the messenger was a failure, and that led him to believe that he had become everything he had always despised; he had become his father. In no way, has his attempt to create a war influenced anyone at the scene, and in the end, his act of suicide has no more of an impact than the murder of the court messenger. So, yes, he does...
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