Most men in society do not like to be seen as feminine, so they do whatever they can to prove their masculinity and overall power. In Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s main goal in life is to be as masculine as possible. He does not let anyone drag him down, even if it means hurting them in the process. In the end, Okonkwo’s attempts to be masculine and powerful highlight his failures as a father, husband, and son.
One specific thing Okonkwo is a failure at is being a father. First of all, his only son, Nwoye, is a Christian and Okonkwo hates him for that. He sees him as weak and feminine, which all along has been the exact opposite of his goal as a man in society. Okonkwo has “constructed a sense of gender by asserting a strong sense of masculinity and resenting any sense of femininity” (Bennett). When Nwoye “seeks his father’s love and understanding…[Okonkwo] is incapable of responding to these basic human needs” (Iyasere) because he considers them unmanly. He pushes his only true son away, even beats him, and that in the end leads to Nwoye’s joining the Christians and to Okonkwo’s failure. He also fails at accepting his daughter, Enzinma. She is a girl, but he often thinks of her as a boy, and even wishes that she could be one. He seems to like her best of all his children, but does not always show it, and so without the love and compassion a father should have, he treats her like the rest of his children. He cares too much about being masculine to care for her and her brothers and sisters like he should. Furthermore, there is Ikemefuna, who comes to live with Okonkwo for a few years and becomes like a son to him. He even calls him father. Okonkwo comes to love him and care for him, sometimes even more than his own children, but when the time comes that he is to be sacrificed, Okonkwo puts aside his feelings and does not listen when his friend tells him not to take part in his death. He wants to be the man he has to that point proven to...
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