Things Fall Apart

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade September 2001

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The main character, Okonkwo, in this novel of indebtedness and the path in which it can form, sees his past with eyes of bitterness, for his father, Unoka, was a man deep in liability. Unoka's debts appear in Okonkwo's being, taking hold of his family and tribe (and finally his life), finding a means to pay back the things which Unoka never returned. These factors reciprocate for the mistakes Unoka made in his own life, making Okonkwo yearn for better days and hate his father and his father's errors with all his heart.

Sacrifices are to be made in Okonkwo's family in order to make up for all the wrong Unoka committed; the first example concerning Okonkwo's personal life being the death of Ikemefuna. He did not deserve to die, yet he did. Eventually, the realization that Ikemefuna was one of the many sacrifices Okonkwo associated with becomes clear. Another association concerns Ekwefi and her trying past with children.

Though the impact of Ekwefi's miscarriages, dead infants, and the miraculously healthy and long life of Ezinma has sculpted her into a strong woman, the 9 children she birthed who did not survive through infancy are symbolic of the extremity of sorrow that Okonkwo and his family must undergo in order to clear his father's name. Nwoye, Okonkwo's eldest son, also forfeits himself, giving himself up to the religion and government the imposing white men have brought among the tribe of Umuofia. Obviously, these sacrifices have impacted Okonkwo's heart and health greatly, and though his fragility is shattered underneath the surface, physically Okonkwo's able to maintain face... for now.

Umuofia, the tribe in which Okonkwo is considered an honorable man, has also indirectly suffered. What was once a peaceful village now has been overrun by foreign beliefs and authority, brought on...