a) Discuss Okonkwo’s relationship with Nwoye and Ezinma.
Okonkwo treated his son and daughter very differently. The child-father relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye was a distant and strained one while Okonkwo exhibited another type of feeling towards Ezinma which is filled with care and concern. This was due to the fact that Nwoye “was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness” whereas Ezinma was thought to have the “right spirit” and “alone understood [Okonkwo’s] every mood”.
The relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye is very stressful and bitter as Okonkwo has very high expectation for his eldest son. Hence Okonkwo always “sought to correct him by constant nagging and beating” when he was irritated by Nwoye’s laziness which resembled his failure father, Unoka. The resentment for the same kind of weakness and failure appeared on Nwoye and Unoka even pushed Okonkwo to show his strength and forced him to develop a successful son. Nwoye was often “beaten heavily” by his father and thereby he grew up into a “sad-faced lad”. This suggested the tense relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye which was actually connected by Okonkwo’s constant intimidation and Nwoye’s “perpetual fear” for his father. Another instance which shows the lack of understanding between Nwoye and Okonkwo was that although “Okonkwo wanted his son to be a great farmer and a great man”, he did not express his thought to Nwoye in the appropriate manner by threatening him he “would sooner or later strangle” Nwoye if he turned out to be a failure. This constant mental abuse evoked an intense sense of fear within Nwoye as Okonkwo said he would kill him if he ruined his reputation and also added tension to the relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye.
Their relationship improved a lot with the arrival of Ikemefuna. Nwoye was deeply influenced by Ikemefuna that he felt “grown up”. He even would “feign annoyance and grumble aloud about women and their troubles”, which exactly matches with Okonkwo’s expectation – “he wanted Nwoye to grow into a tough young man capable of ruling his father’s household”. This development in Nwoye eased the tension between them and even made Okonkwo “inwardly pleased”, making them closer. Their closeness can be seen from the fact that Nwoye “would listen to Okonkwo’s stories about tribal wars”, indicating that Nwoye wasn’t as afraid as he used to be to stay with Okonkwo and no longer repel the “masculine stories of violence and bloodshed”. The father and the son finally found some topics in common and can be shared with, showing the great improvement in their relationship. However, although their relationship seemed to become much better, a sincere relationship based on trust was still not established. Nwoye still preferred folk stories. But he realized “his father wanted him to be a man”, so he “feigned that he no longer cared for women’s stories” in order to escape from Okonkwo’s rebuke and beating. Nwoye tended to hide his true self from Okonkwo as he was so frightened by his father’s beating and scolding. This caused their relationship to become distant, although their relationship seemed to be close on the surface. Unfortunately, the improving relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye was strained and even worsened due to the death of Ikemefuna, especially because Okonkwo bore a hand in his death and betrayed Ikemefuna, an innocent lad who had almost become their family member. On the day Nwoye overheard Ikemefuna would be killed, he “burst into tears” and was heavily beaten by Okonkwo as Okonkwo believed only women would cry. This marked the beginning of their strained relationship and their tense relationship would start over again. “As soon as his father walked in… something seemed to give way inside him.” This question and confusion arose in Nwoye’s mind foreshadowed his later conversion and entirely broken relationship with Okonkwo. The gap appeared between them widened, like “a snapping of...
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