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Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe does a great job showing Okonkwo’s identity challenges as a response to the Western culture. Without understanding how Okonkwo changed and why he did, it’s hard to actually understand the story line. The collision of the Ibo and Western culture challenges Okonkwo’s identity because he begins to be seen as less strong, he becomes more angry and ready to fight, and kind of looses respect from his family members because of his actions. Firstly, the collision of the two cultures challenges Okonkwo’s identity because he begins to be seen as less strong. He becomes very hostile due to the disrespect he feels by being overthrown or looked over in the village and starts to do things that he shouldn’t, for instance, when he kills the man at the meeting. The village then starts to see him as a week man and disrespectful to the community because he keeps doing things to shame them. When he is kicked out of the village, it shows that he is no longer seen as strong as he was and not as popular in the village. Well, at least for the right purposes. Chinua shows us how Okonkwo changed as the villages clashed by showing a blatant change in his attitude when the Western culture started to try to put their religion on the Ibo. His worry with being so strong, really only made him look worse in the eyes of the people he was trying to impress.

Secondly, the clash of the Ibo and Western culture challenges Okonkwo’s identity because he becomes more angry and ready to fight. We already know Okonkwo is always on his tippy toes and always ready to fight, as explained in the first few chapters. But, as the story goes on, Achebe makes Okonkwo’s new feelings change as his village and belief is tried. At the village meetings, he is always telling the Ibo to fight off the Western culture and just kill them or beat them up so bad they won’t want to stay. He felt that the Western culture threatened his and in no way shape of form was Okonkwo going to be threatened. Others in the community are shocked at his actions and often say that his behavior is the reason for his bad behavior. The people, more and more by each action, see him as a worse and worse person. The more he tries to seem strong and grow himself; his identity just keeps getting hurt.

Lastly, when the Ibo and Western culture meet, they challenge Okonkwo’s identity because he loses respect from his family members. The more Okonkwo starts to lose himself trying to be this strong person, the more terrible things he does, and the more distant he becomes from his family. But, what really devastates Okonkwo is the loss of his son. His son, Nwoye, turns over to the western culture because everything that he thinks is wrong, they agree with. Okonkwo was most hurt from this. This led to an event that was irreversible, his death. Achebe does a good job of making us see that Okonkwo killed himself because, not only did he know he was going to die, he thought that if he killed himself it would reverse everything he did and make it better. He, overall, only wanted the best for himself and his family. But, instead he made the exact opposite happen.

To sum it all up, Okonkwo’s response to the clash of the Ibo and Western culture challenges his identity by making everything in his life fall apart. It all works as a whole by showing us how Okonkwo felt throughout every change in his life and village and the things he did to reverse them. Although it ended up with his life gone, I believe Okonkwo’s portrayal by Achebe taught us all that no matter what you do in life, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Who you kill and the wrong things you do, only make your life worse.

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