10th Grade English Honors
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
“There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.” The novel “Things Fall Apart”, by Chinua Achebe, shows us how change can split entire traditions, simply by stealing the young. The good among a certain people is a ‘flip side of a coin’. There can be highly regarded traditions, such as listening to the Oracles when he or she says to sacrifice someone, as shown in chapter seven. Yet, they may cause harm to people, as pointed out in the end of the book, so the traditions must change and evolve. This book stresses the importance of evolution.
First, Okonkwo’s character was given a very dominant personality. But deeply hidden in his dominance, is his protectoral personality. In chapter eleven, one of his children had been taken by an oracle. His second wife, Ekwefi, had followed the oracle and her child for hours. Okonkwo’s reaction to Ekwefi’s actions are as follows: “‘Don’t be foolish’… ‘Go home and sleep’, said Okonkwo. ‘I shall wait here.’” Okonkwo truly builds on his virtues of being a loving father. In Umuofia, having dominance over his wives and children was all that was needed to qualify him to be a sufficient father figure. Here, he shows compassion, a rarity in Lower Niger and many other places of poverty. He feels the need to safeguard his wife, in the face of his angst. Okonkwo put his family’s needs above his own in this particularly touchy situation. Later in chapter eleven, it stated, “He had felt anxious but did not show it… [when Ekwefi had not been seen for hours,] he had become extremely worried.” Part of being a father is having compassion towards one’s children and significant other. Okonkwo truly shows his protective instincts as he rushes to defend his family despite any notions of distress. His fatherly instincts keep him from doing some of the rash and harsh things that accepted in his culture. As his character develops, Okonkwo learns more of being the protector of his own.
Also, Okonkwo was class-conscious. Throughout his life, Okonkwo seems to hold himself to the rules of his community. In chapter two, it states, “But his whole life, was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness.” Okonkwo was always fighting internal battles, forcing himself to conform to his society’s rules. He constantly makes himself work harder, to be better than before. Okonkwo tells himself that to be successful, he must be the best of the best. In chapter seven it states, “He was afraid of being thought weak.” Again, Okonkwo is worried of losing his social status. Okonkwo was his social status. Okonkwo was so class-conscious, that he killed an innocent boy. Okonkwo sacrifices his humanity to appeal to his executives and his audience, the rest of the villages as well as Umuofia.
Not to forget, Okonkwo treasured independency. In a multitude of situatio...