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Swag In The Swag Essay

1300 words - 6 pages

Winston Churchill astutely stated, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” In countless occasions, people have lost their success and results of their work to uncontrollable events. The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe captures the cultural life of the Ibo people before and after the influences of British colonialism by focusing on a representative hard-working character named Okonkwo. All the characters and groups in the novel are subject to uncontrollable setbacks to their valuable progress. Through proverbs regarding motivation, achievement, and respect, Achebe communicates that the results of one’s hard work in life are valuable yet fragile.
Achebe utilizes proverbs regarding motivation to illustrate that the results of one’s hard work are valuable yet fragile. For instance, Achebe uses the proverb “As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings” (8). No ordinary child would eat with kings; therefore the child must be motivated to complete this irregular and difficult goal. As a result, this proverb implies that motivation is needed to keep working and achieve results, no matter how unrealistic. Achebe uses this proverb to primarily reveal that Okonkwo is motivated. His motivation is “the fear of his father’s contemptible life and shameful death” (18). Many people in the world are motivated by a fear. He “did not have the start in life which many young men had” (18); however, thanks to this motivation, he eventually becomes a “wealthy farmer” (8) through “slow and painful” (18) work. The statement following this proverb, “Okonkwo had clearly washed his hands and so he ate with kings and elders” (8) proves that his work got him results. In addition, his results are valued by the confirmation that “if ever a man deserved his success, that man was Okonkwo” (27). Not much after starting to work, Okonkwo goes through “the worst year in living memory” (23). Farming yams already required “hard work and constant attention”(33), but this year had “mad” (24) weather and the yams were “roasted” (23) and “washed away” (24). No one controls weather, just like how people cannot guarantee their own success. The fragility of results can be seen when Okonkwo himself admits that he “knew that he was a fierce fighter, but that year had been enough to break the heart of a lion” (24). The results that people achieve through work are not only valued, but are fragile.
Achebe utilizes proverbs regarding achievement to elucidate the concept that the outcomes of one’s hard work are fragile, despite the appreciation they receive. For example, Achebe includes the proverb “The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no on else did” (21). The high iroko tree represents the once in a lifetime achievement that requires praise due to the extremely hard work it requires. The lizard is jumping down, and therefore it already has...

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