Things Fall Apart, Achebe's Odyssey

Topics: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Igbo people Pages: 3 (964 words) Published: February 16, 2006
In Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, the impact of British Colonialism in Africa is critiqued through the story of an Igbo man, Okonkwo. Okonkwo is an extremely masculine man who has but one fear, the fear of being weak. Throughout the novel, his actions are motivated by this fear which defines him characteristically as on overly masculine man. This over masculinity is Okonkwo's flaw and it drives his moods and actions, ultimately leading to his demise. In this respect, Okonkwo plays the role of a tragic hero driven by his flaw which leads to his downfall.

Okonkwo, like the tragic hero's of Greek myth, was driven by a personal flaw which motivated his life decisions. He always had to be superior to others because "his life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness" (p. 13). He did not want to be perceived as cowardly and feeble. As a result of this flaw, he hated laziness and apathy and did not want to appear as such a person who possessed these characteristics. In his view, the showing of emotion was even a sign of weakness. He, "never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger" (p. 28). The fear of being perceived as weak was paramount in his life, to the point where he would not allow himself to show emotion. Instead, he did all he could to distinguish himself from his clansmen by portraying himself as a vigorous, brutal man.

His motivation to succeed in his clan was rooted in his anxieties over weakness and failure. His actions were driven by fear. He does not allow himself to show any emotion other than anger. With anger being his only emotional outlet, when he gets mad, he forgets reason and acts irrationally. This was the case when his wife Ojiugo provoked him to anger. She had neglected her children and her responsibility to prepare Okonkwo's afternoon meal. This drove Okonkwo into a fury and he beat her even during the Week of Peace when no harm is to be done to others (p. 29). Anger is a masculine emotion...
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