Examples Of Greed In Things Fall Apart

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Greed: A Tornado of Self-Destruction
Greed is the tornado that destroys anything to consume everything. Comprising of dust and debris, tornadoes can demolish anything in its path. There is no method to stopping a tornado and they proceed rapidly with high intensity. As an ivory trader in Africa, Kurtz from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness loses self-restraint and becomes murderous as his appetite for ivory grows. From Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, an acclaimed warrior of the Umuofia tribe, fears failure and dedicates his life to advancing his rank and power in the clan. Although one may argue that Okonkwo and Kurtz’s greed for power helped them achieve success and widespread respect, their unchecked avarice leads to self-destruction.
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When the Umuofia clan decides to kill Okonkwo’s adoptive son Ikemefuna, not only does Okonkwo attend the killing, but also “dr[aws] his machete and cut[s] [Ikemefuna] down” in fear of “being thought weak” (61). While Okonkwo does not outwardly express his emotions, his body language suggests affection for Ikemefuna. The morning before Ikemefuna’s murder, Okonkwo “sat still for a very long time supporting his chin in his palms,” indicating his uneasiness towards his son’s impending death (57). Yet, Okonkwo goes as far as to aid in the murder of Ikemefuna. His decision to execute his son rests upon his greed for power. Okonkwo would rather kill his son than appear cowardly, regardless of his love for Ikemefuna. Even after the murder, Okonkwo goes days without sleep or food, but never realizes he is feeling regretful. Instead, he shuns his emotions and justifies his actions. Okonkwo’s greed for power forces him to lose morals and commit irrational crimes. Similar to Okonkwo, Kurtz will kill for power, showing no indication of morals. When Marlow arrives, he constantly speaks of his possessions, repeating “my ivory, my station, my river” (CITATION). Evidently, Kurtz has become obsessed with material aims, even threatening to “shoot [the Russian harlequin] unless [he] gave him the ivory and then cleared out of the country” (56). Uncivilized and savage-like, Kurtz’s greed …show more content…
After Christian colonizers invade Umuofia, the clan holds a meeting only to be interrupted by the head messenger from the District Commissioner. In anger, Okonkwo “dr[aws] his machete, [which] descend[s] twice and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body” (204). However, the clan “had broken into tumult instead of action” with “fright in that tumult” and Okonkwo returned home and committed suicide (205). As Christians come to spread their influence in Umuofia, Okonkwo feels a threat to his power. With his dangerous lust for power, Okonkwo acts thoughtlessly. His brisk decision to behead the messenger rests upon his need to assert and maintain power. Yet, Okonkwo’s clan does not respond with cheer or pride for their beloved hero, but rather fear and confusion as him Okonkwo was a senseless commoner. Okonkwo sees the lack of impact from his action and discerns his loss of dominance and power over the clan. The people of Umuofia no longer respects him and Okonkwo no longer holds power that made him worthy. Thus, Okonkwo rejects a life without power and commits suicide. While both Okonkwo and Kurtz dies because of their greed for power, Kurtz’s last moments before death reveal his sudden awareness of his insignificant material desires. As Kurtz rides the steamboat away from Africa, his fatigued body from living an unhealthy savage life fails him. Kurtz’s dying words, “The horror! The horror” reflect “a moral

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