Things Fall Apart

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Norman Mailer once asked "For what does it mean to be a hero?" and answered himself with "It requires you to be prepared to deal with forces larger than yourself." This defines the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. This quote may have many meanings, but I personally believe it means that he who calls himself a hero (such as a police officer, fire fighter or others) will have to deal with situations that will be difficult to defeat; however they do so because it is their job to. I am thus forced to agree with what Norman Mailer says. Both works of fiction have protagonists dealing with conflict that ultimately lead to their tragic fall as heroes.

The protagonist of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, was one of the strongest men in Umuofia. He was masculine, hardworking, reputable, and wealthy. He didn't want to be like his father, a failure. Okonkwo believed his father was a failure because the man was very lazy, disgraceful, and poor. Over the years in his village it was said by the elders, “...if a child washed his hands...and so he ate with the kings.” This quote indirectly characterizes Okonkwo, displaying how he knew what he had to do if he wanted to be a great hero, furthermore developing his character as a young man. Towards the end of the novel one can imagine Okonkwo as a tragic hero because, like other tragic heroes, he has one major flaw. His main flaw develops from his fear of being like father, whom he dispised. He as well can't display his emotions because he doesn't want to look weak or sissyish, and when he does show any emotion, it is an uncontrollable rage. As a result of his flaws, Okonkwo has suffered countless tragedies, which ultimately leads to his ironic death. Okonkwo's tragedy was due to many things that happened in Umuofia, but the main reason was the arrival of the white missionaries, “Does the white man understand our custom about land?” (chpt. 20). Okonkwo says this, due to his...
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