Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is authentic narrative written about life in Nigeria at the turn of the twentieth century. Tribal lifestyle in Nigeria is centered on traditions and culture. A minor character and also a very important character, who demonstrates the opposite of tribal lifestyle but yet gives meaning and life to the themes of the book is Unoka; Okonkwo’s father. Unoka is the most important character because his behavior and how it affects Okonkwo, shows the importance of the themes: greatness and ambition, fear, masculinity/femininity, and fate/religion.
Unoka lacked responsibility. He was poor, lazy, and neglectful of his wife, and he did not plan for the future. During his life, he never took a title and, therefore, never gained status or respect from the villagers. Because of Unoka’s failures, Okonkwo’s had great ambitions and strived for greatness, hoping to take a status and make a better life for himself, unlike his father. Okonkwo “has no patience with unsuccessful men. He had had no patience with his father” (Achebe 4). Okonkwo is determined to be a lord of his clan. He refuses to be like Unoka. He rises from humble beginnings to a position of leadership, and he is a wealthy man. He is driven and determined, but his greatness comes from the same traits that are the source of his weaknesses. He is often too harsh with his family, and he is haunted by a fear of failure.
Unoka choices in life caused Okonkwo to have a hatred for him. Okonkwo feared he too would become like Unoka. “Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man, but his whole life was dominated by fears, the fear of failure and weakness.... It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father. Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first...
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.
Scanlon, Paul. Things Fall Apart: On Masculinity. Http://reading.cornell.edu/. N.p.,
Rao, Jayalakshmi V. Chinua Achebe: Art Overview. Http://.postcolonialweb.org/. N.p.
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