"Things Fall Apart" critical analysis

Essay by SunShnSweetie23High School, 11th gradeA, February 2007

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Throughout the novel "Things Fall Apart", the main antagonist, Okonkwo, appears to be courageous and never fails. However, his decision to kill himself is a cowardly act.

One reason Okonkwo chose the cowardly escape of killing himself is because he felt abandoned by his tribe. These feelings of abandonment arose because of his tribe's passive conversion to Christianity. On page 149, the narrator says "Although Nwoye had been attracted to the new faith from the very first day, he kept it a secret." This must have been incredibly disappointing and hurtful to Okonkwo because it was not just a member of the tribe; it was his own son, Nwoye. Also, the tribe did not agree with Okonkwo's idea of going to war with the white Missionaries. "If we fight the stranger, we shall hit our brothers and perhaps shed the blood of a clansman. But we must do it."

(203). This quote accurately describes Okonkwo's strong hatred for the white men. Okonkwo must feel betrayed by his clan because they are taking the side of the white man instead of agreeing to his idea. Furthermore, Okonkwo was exiled from his fatherland because he accidentally killed a boy of the clan, and this made him feel that his tribe had neglected him. This idea is clearly expressed on page 124, when the narrorator says "He could return to the clan after seven years." Because of human nature, if one is rejected by those around him, ones feels hurt because he doesn't belong.

Upon his return from his seven-year exile to his motherland, Okonkwo felt like a weak member of his tribe, and he looked for the cowardly way out of life by killing himself. Because Okonkwo's tribe wasn't going to war, he could not help them win their freedom...