The contribution of various settings in the development Okokwo in the novel \"Things Fall Apart\" by Chinua Achebe. Essay

The Contribution Of Various Settings In The Development Okokwo In The Novel Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe Term paper

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The novel \"Things Fall Apart\" by Chinua Achebe is centered around Okonkwo, who sets out a quest of self-perfection and indeed succeeds in doing so. His hyperbolic interpretation of manliness leads him into climbing the ladder of success ;admired and respected by his clan. And so he soon becomes too deep in his ideology of masculinity which later causes his own tragic demise. The focus of this essay is to discuss the contribution of the various settings in the development of Okonkwo. This novel is partitioned into three main parts which deal with three remarkably different settings. These are Umofia, Mbanta and the Umofia in change respectively. In the first part, which is in Umofia, Achebe offered an understanding of Okonkwo\'s nature who lived in fear of becoming like his father. Achebe furthered on providing precise characteristics of his father who was notorious for his unmanly behaviour and therefore died in dispute. He had always been associated with agbala ;woman and titleless(pg 13). Through this, the reader\'s are privileged with the significant event that occurred in Okonkwo\'s course of life in which he grew up in in criticism. This experience has been essential in the formation of his character where he had always been haunted by the actions of his father and attempted to adopt totally opposite characteristics of his father. Although he managed to attain a position of wealth and prestige in his clan, he was always dazed by the fear of being regarded to his father, an emasculated figure that he associated with women. In effort to avoid this, he associated masculinity with aggression- the only emotion that he allowed himself to display. This is discovered in a few events in the novel such as when his wife, Ekwefi, muttered a snide remark about \"guns that never shot\". He dealt this situation of relating him to weakness by shooting his wife to prove he is not all that weak. Similarly, he killed Ikemefuna on account of avoiding himself of being thought weak. In this incident, the audience are depicted with Okonkwo\'s decision of not showing any affection because he is regarding doing so as a sign of weakness ;a quality that he refuses to tolerate in himself. To further concrete the fact that he is very much afraid of weakness, Achebe emphasized on Okonkwo\'s internal feelings when he killed Ikemefuna. In spite of being profoundly grieved by killing him, he ends up calling himself a \"shivering old woman\" in order to refrain from depicting affection. A further example on his fear towards weakness is that of his constant beating and nagging on his son, Nwoye, in whom he foresights his father.    Moving to wider aspect of the setting which is the society, Umofia also had a tremendous contribution in building Okonkwo\'s character. As Achebe addresses Umofia\'s background of having a fierce reputation in war and magic highlights its history of producing great warriors. From this, the the audience are revealed to the society of Umofia which values individual display of prowess and rewarding titles based on their contribution to the community. This is exemplified in a few events in the novel such as when Okonkwo \"brought honour to his village by throwing Amalinze the cat\". Due to this achievement, Okonkwo is held in high regard in his society. Through this, Okonkwo is affirmed that the prestige that he attained is a result of his depiction of manliness and therefore made masculinity central to his personality. This is clearly indicated in the second chapter when he represented Umofia as the \"proud and imperious emissary of war\". Through these, the development of Okonkwo\'s character as mentioned can be justified through his life experience and the society that he lived in.    The second part points out a great twist in Okonwo\'s life. In this part he is presented to a setting which opposes to his notion of masculinity, \"motherland\". He sees his misfortune as resembling to the traits of a female. This is reinforced in a few series of events in this part. His reliance towards his maternal family to provide him in beginning a new life in Mbanta foreshadows him the characteristics of his father, Unoka, who was well-known with his debts. In doing so, he is unwilling to admit the reality of surrendering to weakness which he now, however, had to endure. He also knew that he would not prosper in Mbanta as much as he would in his fatherland as evidenced by Achebe in the line \"in these seven years he would have climbed the ladder of success\".(pg162)    Apart from that, he also felt becoming impotent as he could do nothing to save his clan against the exploitation of the missionaries. What\'s more, the fact that of bringing in a new government for judgement also threatened his passion of becoming the greatest lord of his clan. On the other hand, he noted also, a sign of effeminateness in his motherland when he suggests a war against the missionaries. Thus it perfectly stands to reason development in Okonkwo into a dull character as a consequence of not being able to establish himself and play the vital role of making decision that he once preserved. It is also an effect of over-sensitiveness of being regarded as emasculated ;a practice that he adopted in his previous setting.    In the third part of the novel, Achebe explains about the seven wasted years in which Okonkwo might have taken the highest title of the clan. Through this, the readers can reason Okonkwo\'s rejuvenated return to attain the glory that he had visualized. However, the people of Umofia have begun to accept the new administration and they feel that the new administration has brought with it a better life for them. This is evidenced in the line \"the new religion and government and trading stores were very much in the people\'s eyes and minds\"(pg182). Similar to what he had experienced in part 2, the new religion is now becoming another barrier that is coming between him and his ambition. To preserve his status among his people, the new setting has driven him into uniting his clan. His actions can also be justified by the fear of bowing to other people and his understanding of masculinity. No sooner as he realizes the change in the nature of his once warlike people, he succumbs to his load of despair as to him living within a society which was now portraying cowardliness, would be against his principles of life and thus sinks into it. Based on the circumstances that Okonkwo faced in life, the audience now can reason the various development that he went through and reason his death. The tale of Okonkwo also perfectly matches Abraham Lincoln\'s famous quote that \"nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man\'s character, give him power\". References

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