The novel "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe is centered around Okonkwo, who sets out a quest of self-perfection and indeed succeeds in doing so. His hyperbolic interpretation of manliness leads him into climbing the ladder of success; admired and respected by his clan. And so he soon becomes too deep in his ideology of masculinity which later causes his own tragic demise.
The focus of this essay is to discuss the contribution of the various settings in the development of Okonkwo and its relevance in today's society. This novel is partitioned into three main parts which deal with three remarkably different settings. These are Umofia, Mbanta and the Umofia in change respectively.
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Similarly, he killed Ikemefuna on account of avoiding himself of being thought weak. In this incident, the audience are depicted with Okonkwo's decision of not showing any affection because he is regarding doing so as a sign of weakness; a quality that he refuses to tolerate in himself.
To further concrete the fact that he is very much afraid of weakness, Achebe emphasized on Okonkwo's internal feelings when he killed Ikemefuna. In spite of being profoundly grieved by killing him, he ends up calling himself a "shivering old woman" in order to refrain from depicting affection. A further example on his fear towards weakness is that of his constant beating and nagging on his son, Nwoye, in whom he foresights his father.
Moving to wider aspect of the setting which is the society, Umofia also had a tremendous contribution in building Okonkwo's character. As Achebe addresses Umofia's background of having a fierce reputation in war and magic highlights its history of producing great warriors. From this, the the audience are revealed to the society of Umofia which values individual display of prowess and rewarding titles based on their contribution to the community. This is exemplified in a few events in the novel such as when Okonkwo "brought honour to his village by throwing Amalinze the cat". Due to this achievement, Okonkwo is held in high regard in his society. Through this, Okonkwo is affirmed that the prestige that he attained is a result of his depiction of manliness and therefore made masculinity central to his personality. This is clearly indicated in the second chapter when he represented Umofia as the "proud and imperious emissary of war". Through these, the development of Okonkwo's character as mentioned can be justified through his life experience and the society that he lived in.
The second part points out a great twist in Okonwo's life. In this part he is presented to a setting which opposes to his notion of masculinity, "motherland". He sees his misfortune as resembling to the traits of a female. This is reinforced in a few series of events in this part. His reliance towards his maternal family to provide him in beginning a new life in Mbanta foreshadows him the characteristics of his father, Unoka, who was well-known with his debts. In doing so, he is unwilling to admit the reality of surrendering to weakness which he now, however, had to endure. He also knew that he would not prosper in Mbanta as much as he would in his fatherland as evidenced by Achebe in the line "in these seven years he would have climbed the ladder of success".(pg162)
Apart from that, he also felt becoming impotent as he could do nothing to save his clan against the exploitation of the missionaries. What's more, the fact that of bringing in a new government for judgement also threatened his passion of becoming the greatest lord of his clan. On the other hand, he noted also, a sign of effeminateness in his motherland when he suggests a war against the...