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Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe 5 Meaningful Quotes Revolving Around Okonkwo

1597 words - 6 pages

In the essay “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, there are five meaningful quotes that revolve around Okonkwo’s status during his life. In the beginning of the novel Okonkwo became an important part of his village early in his life when he defeated Amaline the Cat in a wrestling match. His victory made him a celebrity among the nine villages of Umuofia because Amaline had been undefeated for seven years. At this point, Okonkwo began on the path to high social status among his village, which was his goal throughout his life.The first quote that the narrator metaphorically describes is how great status can be achieved at a young age, “Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. Okonkwo had clearly washed his hands and so he ate with Kings and elders.” (Chapter 1 Pg. 8) This quote implies that Okonkwo worked very hard at a young age to be able to eat with the elders. Age respected among his people means that the older a person is, the more respect he will attain. However, Okonkwo was not old at all so he focused on attaining that same respect through means of achievements. Thus by attaining much honor at a young age, Okonkwo will gain even more value as he gets older. So when Okonkwo was older, the elders of Okonkwo's village held him in high esteem. Due to his place in society, they entrusted him with the life of a boy sacrificed to them by the people of a neighboring village as a peace offer. Although Okonkwo has reached a high place in his community, this quote also reveals that Okonkwo strived to become a man as fast as he could therefore he must have not had much of a childhood. This could also explain why Okonkwo was so harsh toward others including his children and wives. However, the root of his missing childhood was because of his father.Okonkwo’s father was known as Unoka. Okonkwo hated his father because he was a lazy debtor. Unoka could never afford to purchase a title for himself or to have more than one wife, and so he was looked down upon by his neighbors and his own son because his primary joy was in music and merry-making rather than work, wealth, and warfare. The people of Okonkwo’s village called Unoka an agbala, which is an insult for calling a man a woman. When Okonkwo heard this term, he was crushed because to him that meant that his father (who had no title) was basically a woman. That's when Okonkwo became obsessed with social status and because of that obsession; he would do anything to protect his image as a strong man in his village. Through his fear of his father’s passiveness in life, Okonkwo did everything against what his father did. Thus instead of becoming lazy and gentle, Okonkwo transformed himself into a hardworking and aggressive man. Unoka even looks up to Okonkwo when he has attained respect, "You have a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survive general failure because...

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