Depiction Of Masculinity In The Book Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

1199 words - 5 pages

In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo depicts his masculinity in many different ways, even if it hurts the people closest to him. He feels it is necessary to display his manliness so he does not end up like his father Unoka. “He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father” (4). Okonkwo correlates virility with aggression and feels the only emotion he should show is anger, leaving him no way to cope with the death of his culture.
Okonkwo associates many of his tribal influences with masculinity. Right away in the book, Achebe affiliates strength with manliness. “As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalizine the Cat” (3). He is honored because he had enough strength and agility to overthrow the cat. Okonkwo feels to be successful and manly, one also must show no emotion. He thinks emotion is for the weak and for woman, and he does not want to be either of those. “Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness,-the only thing worth demonstrating was strength” (28). Okonkwo treats Ikemefuna with this idea. He becomes very fond of the child, but never outwardly shows his affection. If he showed his affection he was afraid he would be looked down upon in his tribe. Although his father enjoyed little things like music and dancing, Okonkwo had no desire to share his father’s enjoyment. He desired power and wealth. He wants to construct and maintain a big house for his many wives and even more children. “Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things. He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife” (8). Okonkwo made it clear to everyone that he was destined to be the best. He wanted nothing more than to be the most powerful man in the whole entire world, but his lack of emotion and ability to change would never let him go that far. The last key factor in deciding virility in Okonkwo’s eyes is chi. A man with good chi in Okonkwo’s tribe is a very honored person that people looked up to. Okonkwo has good chi. “At an early age he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler in all the land. That was not luck. At the most one could say that his chi or personal god was good” (27). Okonkwo’s chi starts out good, but after his unfortunate accident in shooting his fellow tribesman, his chi was tainted. He has to wait until his bad chi is resolved to go back to the tribe.
Okonkwo’s biggest fear is to end up like his unsuccessful father, Unoka. Okonkwo classifies Unoka as a woman. He ties in failure with non-manliness the most. “With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife” (18). The difference is that Okonkwo made something out of himself even with a father like Unoka. His...

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