Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe Okonkwo's Internal Struggle

1118 words - 4 pages

In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, one man who is both mentally and physically strong, is plagued with "failure and weakness"(p.13), which eventually causes his self-destruction. This man struggles to get through his unsolvable problems, which is a hopeless effort, that ends up killing him. The three main events that cause Okonkwo to be pushed to the limit are: the death of his adopted son Ikemefuna, his eldest son becoming a Christian, and his exile from his tribe for seven years.The first major mishap in Okonkwo's life occurs when his adopted son, Ikemefuna, is killed. Ikemefuna is taken from his home village and forced to live in Umuofia, Okonkwo's village. This happens because Ikemefuna's father murders a girl from Okonkwo's tribe and this is Ikemefuna's fathers punishment, to lose his son. Ikemefuna lives with Okonkwo and becomes close to all the members of Okonkwo's family. During the three years Ikemefuna lives with Okonkwo, he is treated as a member of the family. One day the oracle speaks of Ikemefuna's fate, his impending death. When the news is brought to Okonkwo, the high members of the tribe suggest that Okonkwo should "have nothing to do with"(p.57) the death of Ikemefuna because he is like a "father"(p.57) to him. The next morning the high titled men of Umuofia take Ikemefuna outside the village on a long walk to kill him. At first, Ikemefuna is nervous and confused, but when Okonkwo walks behind him, he does not fear anymore. Only then does the moment of confusion hit Ikemefuna: he starts wondering why Okonkwo has moved behind him, and before he can react, he is struck down by a machete . This is when Ikemefuna's child instinct surfaces and he asks for help from his father. Ikemefuna does not receive the help he asks from Okonkwo but receives the final strike that ends his life from his own "father"(p.61). Okonkwo is more concerned with the tribe's opinion than his own feelings. Okonkwo is more concerned with the tribe's opinion than his own feelings. Even though Okonkwo loves his adopted son, he also loves his image; this is why Okonkwo delivers Ikemefuna his death. Okonkwo does not want his tribe to "think of him as weak"(p.61) or impotent. After Okonkwo returns home from the hike, he does not eat for several days and deeply mourns for Ikemefuna. Emotionally, Okonkwo feels deep regret and pain for his actions. This event is the first of many tragic trials that will forever change Okonkwo's life.The second misfortune that comes to Okonkwo is through his eldest son Nwoye. Nwoye causes his father to worry about him a great deal of time. From the time he is a child, he causes "his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness"(p.13). Okonkwo tries to fix this dilemma by constantly making Nwoye work and by severely punishing Nwoye for his idleness. But all the work and all the beatings still can not keep Nwoye from embarrassing his father. As white missionarys bring in ideas of Christianity, most natives look down on the...

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