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Things Fall Apart Essay, Research Paper

An African man, Chinua Achebe, wrote the novel, Things Fall Apart, at the age of 26. The story portrays his theme of life, when one thing stands another stands beside it. The main character, Okonkwo, lead a somewhat complicated life. As it began, it was ruled by courage and strength, but he chose to end it with a weak escape from every challenge he had ever been given, suicide.

As his life began he was given nothing. His father, Unoka, was a disgrace to Umuofia. He was extremely lazy, and more in debt than anyone could even remember. Okonkwo worked extremely hard for everything he had ever had in his possession. He began his fame at a very young age, as a wrestler. His victory with Amalinze, the cat, was the beginning of his successful life. He harvested all of his crops alone, with no help. He was a strong and courageous warrior, as well as leader. When the Priestess of Agbala took his daughter, Ezinma, he followed behind, showing that he cared. This also counteracts the fact that, “He had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists.” (Achebe 4) He was known for his fiery temper, which on occasion acted out unnecessarily. On one instance he beat his wife, Ojiugo, merely because she didn’t have his food ready. In the outcome of an ultimatum with Mbaino, Umuofia was given a young boy, Ikemefuna. Okonkwo took care of Ikemefuna for three years, but when Ezeudu said, “That boy calls you father, do not bear a hand in his death,” (Achebe 57) he helped to kill him anyways.

During a ceremony for Ezeudu’s death, Okonkwo’s gun exploded and a piece of metal pierced the heart of Ezeudu’s son. He was exiled from Umuofia for seven years. During his exile, he went to Mbanta, his mothers’ homeland, to live with his uncle, Uchendu. While there he took very good care of Mbanta, although he became very lazy and whiny. During a talk with Uchendu, Uchendu commented that, “If you allow sorrow to weigh you down, and kill you, they [your wives and children] wild all die in exile.” (Achebe 134) Instead of making the best out of what he had, he moped.

After his exile he returned to a changed Umuofia. White men, missionaries moved into Umuofia, and Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye, decided to join them. Okonkwo got into many confrontations with the church, because he felt as if strangers were ruling him. In the end he decided to commit suicide. This was an extremely weak act on his part. He let all of the true Ibo people down, and merely did what he could to escape all of his troubles.

Okonkwo did lead a very difficult life, and in the beginning he made what he could out of it and did many respectable things. By the end of his life I think that he was just sick of it. He could have fought the missionaries, but it’s almost as if he just gave up. Okonkwo deserves titles for all of his accomplishments, but he does not deserve any recognition for his personality. He was always concerned with what others would think of him, and not about what was right. In the end he just gave up.


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