“If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.” Horace Mann. Historically men have attempted to achieve greatness and have been unsuccessful in their efforts as their ambition gets in the way of truth. In Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart” Okonkwo was viewed as a great man, was his greatness within his power? Greatness is based on character and choices not outward actions.
In Ibo culture, certain behaviors such as showing emotion or being lazy were seen to be weak and undesirable. “He was afraid of being thought weak.” (61) In this quote, Okonkwo’s concern about being perceived like his father who was notably lazy and irresponsible which encourages him to be an ambitious young man who is respected in his clan. “Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered,” (8) “although he was still young, he was one of the greatest men of his time.” (8) This cultural value made him work harder, mature faster and accomplish more. He chose to follow and excel in his clan’s cultural expectations.
Okonkwo was a man willing to get the job done, no matter what it took. “He was a man of action, a man of war.” (10) For instance, during his experience as a warrior, he was the first to bring back a human head. He prized his standard of excellence by never doing anything half heartedly. “ Okonkwo never did anything by halves.” (165) He went above and beyond expectations to show his wealth and success, as illustrated when he was leaving his motherland and coming out of exile. His choice to pursue a culturally traditional masculine role in his family showed that he was the head of the house and in charge of all of the relationships.
Although deeply observant of his culture’s rules, Okonkwo felt that his life was directed by his free will to make choices and direct his ambition to success. “His fame rested on solid personal achievement.” (3) Very early in his life, he realized he could direct his...
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