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Essay about Okonkwo's Self-Destructive Masculinity in Things Fall Apart

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Okonkwo's Self-Destructive Masculinity in Things Fall Apart


The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a story that opens the reader's mind to an entirely different way of living in a Nigerian village. Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930, perhaps this is why he writes a whole book on a Nigerian village and introduces to us the ways of life for the Nigerian people. From the first page of the book to the last, Achebe allows the reader to enter the mind of the main character Okonkwo. Okonkwo is the leader of his village and is very respected for his many achievements. Although Okonkwo means well for his village, the novel invites the reader to see him has a flawed character who eventually suffers from the consequences of bad "masculine" decisions he makes throughout the book.

Okonkwo is known throughout Umuofia to be extremely masculine. He rarely shows signs of fear or weakness. This is because Oknokwo promised himself he would be the complete opposite of his father Unoka. Unoka had passed away ten years prior to when the story takes place but he has always been remembered as a weak, lazy, poor man who could barely provide for his family. He was always in debt and didn't care to work, he would play his flute all day everyday if he was able to. "People laughed at him because he was a loafer, and they swore never to lend him any more money because he never paid back" (5). Unoka was the laugh of the town and Okonkwo would never allow himself be that.

Throughout the novel, Oknonkwo does many things to prove his masculine quality. Many of these things are debatable as to whether they affirm Okonkwo's masculinity or if they bring out his true weakness and lead to his destruction. (Goldman 2)

One thi...


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...side made him suffer. He did it to himself. If he wasn't so caught up on the idea that if you weren't violent and brave then you were a woman, perhaps he would still be alive at the end of the novel. He takes his own life because he realizes everything he has done to be that powerful leader he has always wanted to be was a waste. When he comes back from exile, everything is different. He realizes that the people in the village don't need him. They are content with change and adapting to a new way of life, unlike himself. They don't want to go to war and have bloody battles like he does. Okonkwo realized his village was able to survive without him. By Okonkwo taking his own life, he proved his misery and the idea of him being truly weak at heart was affirmed.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York, NY: Anchor Books: Doubleday. 1959.


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