An analysis of characters from the books "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe, and "Houseboy" by Ferdinand Oyino

Essay by Amanda83OB+, May 2004

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Okonkwo, from the novel Things Fall Apart, and Toundi, from the novel Houseboy, both held flawed ideals, which, when placed within the context of colonialism, resulted in their demise. Okonkwo held an African ideal, believing that he was an example of what real men should be like, especially when he himself delivered the death blow to Ikemefuna. Toundi held a European ideal, believing that the Europeans were perfect in their ways, especially within their nuclear families. However, in reality Okonkwo was not the man he thought he was. He had shown feelings of regret, and for a while was not able to live with himself after the death of Ikemefuna. Toundi also learned of his false ideals when he became aware of the affair between Susan Decazy and the prison director, Moreau. The nuclear family was a façade. Both Okonkwo and Toundi's inability to act on this gap between ideal and reality resulted in their death.

Okonkwo's false African ideal lead to his destruction. He was so preoccupied in ensuring his manliness that he failed to see the signs pointing out this false ideal. When Ikemefuna was to be killed, an elder told Okonkwo, "That boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death." However, Okonkwo did not heed his message, showing that he was not truly in sync with the African society. Instead he delivered Ikemefuna's death blow himself, because he was afraid of being thought weak. Afterwards, he could not eat or sleep. Not being able to live with himself, he asks, "when did (I) become a shivering old woman?" Again, he ignores this sign that something is not right within himself. He sees gap between his ideal and the reality, but does not heed it. This action brings about his demise, and...