Things Fall Apart-Okonkwos Rage

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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In the book Things Fall Apart, the main character, a man named Okonkwo, is a very angry man. During the story, he tries to take his anger out on his children and wives by beating them. His anger is probably because he had a terrible life growing up because of his father being a lazy man. The fact that showing any kind of emotion in the tribe besides for anger is considered a sign of weakness probably helped in his struggle to be a better man than his father so he feels he has to be angry. He beats his kids and wife all of the time for things like not being on time to bring his meal and his children not showing interest in the same things he is interested in. "Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating someone half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess" (Page 30).

During the story, Okonkwo receives a son from anther village named Ikemefuna for their repayment for killing a girl from his own tribe. This boy was not very well liked by Okonkwo in the begging, but soon he started to turn Okonkwo's real son, Nwoye, from lazy to a hard worker. Okonkwo soon started to like Ikemefuna like a son. After being there for three years the oracle of the village came to Okonkwo and told him that it was tradition to kill the peace offering from the other village. Okonkwo did not object yet he actually agreed fully with the oracle. He told Nwoye that they were going to take Ikemefuna home yet Nwoye knew what was really to happen to him and he began to cry. Okonkwo beat Nwoye heavily for that. When they took him into the woods and killed him he was slashed with a machete one time, he cried out, "Father, they have killed me!" Okonkwo finally took his own machete and slashed the boy one last time. In the book it quotes, "he was afraid of being thought weak." (Page 61).

Okonkwo has a very angry past bottled up inside him and he doesn't want to return back to his old life and how his lazy father lived so I feel he would do anything to maintain to the tribe that he is a strong and hardworking man. He was always a mean spirited man. While at a meeting he called a man a women because he held no titles, the book said, "Okonkwo knew how to kill a man's spirit" (Page 26). He even began to like the boy but in order to be accepted by the tribe he couldn't show it. "Even Okonkwo himself became very fond of the boy- inwardly of course, Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength. He therefore treated Ikemefuna as he treated everybody else- with a heavy hand. But there was no doubt he liked the boy (Page 28). I feel that many things would cause Okonkwo to kill his half-son but it was probably mostly contributed to his poor childhood and his resentment towards his father.