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The Life And Death Of Okonkwo And Ivan Ilych.

1852 words - 7 pages

Leo Tolstoy and Chinua Achebe both write about characters that go through their lives doing everything they are supposed to do according to their respective societies. But in the end, they both realize that all they have done was not enough. While each of the protagonists' lives turn to grief, one fate was tragic while the other was pathetic. As they continued on their paths to "succeed", neither was able to predict the dangers that lay ahead for them until it was too late.From Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo was a well-respected member of his tribe. His father, Unoka, was not the "ideal" citizen of their clan. In fact, Okonkwo was ashamed of him from his childhood. He learned from Unoka what not to do in his life. From his early days, Okonkwo's embarrassment of his father's laziness led him to become a hard worker, on the farm and in the battlefield. He earns a high status in his tribe with his wealth and strength, and is able to maintain his three wives and children. Throughout the novel, the reader gains more and more respect for this character that lives his life with the American vision in mind, work hard and you will succeed. As a law-abider to the utmost extent, Okonkwo will do anything to appear the perfect citizen in his society. When informed from Ogbuefi, a well-respected village elder, that the child he won in a settlement, Ikemefuna, was to be killed, Okonkwo does not really even think about defying the words of the Oracle. During the "execution", while several tribe members with machetes attacked Ikemefuna, he runs toward Okonkwo for protection. Knowing he cannot save the boy, he kills him with his own weapon. Although he did not try to defy the sacred commands from an elder, the reader does feel pity for him because he sinks into a deep depression after the murder. Another sign of his loyal citizenship is when he packed his family up and moved out after his gun explodes and kills Ogbuefi's son. Bitterly disappointed at his misfortune, he does not commit suicide and put an end to his life like many would or seek revenge on those who exiled him.The only point where Okonkwo shows signs of weakness and does not follow the rules of his society is during the Week of Peace. When his first wife did not come home for a long time, he beat her heavily when she returned home. "In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess." (21) This shows that he is mortal because nobody in this world is perfect. Although he does beat his wife, everything else he has done in the past is law-abiding and mostly respectful. The reader feels as if Okonkwo is doing his best in the world to do as much good as he can for his clan. When word of the white people arrives along with their conquering ways, Okonkwo tries to take charge of his clan to repel the...

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