Reader Response: Things Fall Apart
In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is a character whose main goal is to be as different from his father as possible. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father was a weak man, he was lazy and owed money to most people in the village. Okonkwo on the other hand, was a man of great success, he was brave and well respected.
He also had a temper and was feared by many. “Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children”, (Things Fall Apart, 13). But why was Okonkwo like this?
He believed this behaviour made him look fearless and brave in everyone’s eyes. Okonkwo’s fear of being like his father in any way, was greater than his fear to the gods, his respect for his village and everything else that surrounded him. He also believed his chi dictated his destiny and misfortune, but the misfortune was not due to his chi, but his extreme fear of not being that brave man he wants everyone to see him as, his fear of failing and being more like his father. Okonkwo believed he had a problematic chi, and blamed his misfortune on it.
Whenever things went well and he had good fortune his pride was on himself, but when things went wrong he blamed it on his chi. In the next passage he wonders about his son Nwoye: “Why, he cried in his heart, should he, Okonkwo, of all people, be cursed with such a son? He saw clearly in it the finger of his personal god or Chi. For how else could he explain his great misfortune and exile and now his despicable son’s behavior? ”, (Things Fall Apart, 152). But it is him and his enormous pride who ultimately dictates his destiny.
When Okonkwo is informed by Ogbuefi Ezeudu, that the oracle has decreed that Ikemefuna died, he specifically tells Okonkwo not to take part in his death. But on the way to Ikemefuna’s home village, a man attacks him with his machete, and Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo, but he doesn’t want to look like a weak man in front of others and cuts him down. Since Okonkwo did not take the advice of his elders and participated in Ikemefuna’s death he is considered a sinner in Igbo culture. He is so focused on not being looked as weak that he will rather disobey his beliefs and his tribe’s laws.