Okonkwo and Ekwefi share a daughter called Ezinma. They don’t really share a love as such for each other most of the time because Okonkwo constantly beats his wives for every time they do something wrong. However, I think, in a strange sense, that this might be a way that they show their love for each other, seeing as the wife usually doesn’t retaliate. However, in Chapter 5, Okonkwo nearly shoots Ekwefi, so this could most likely disprove my theory: “… ran out again and aimed at her as she clambered over the dwarf wall of the barn.
” Although Ekwefi is able to confront Okonkwo on rare occasions, she is still a bit intimidated by his violent reactions. Achebe exaggerates the point of manipulation throughout the novel between Okonkwo and Ekwefi. Ekwefi is painted as being extremely devoted to her daughter and Okonkwo but is unable to see that she is being taken advantage by him: Okonkwo only takes notice of her when he is after something: “… he asked his second wife, Ekwefi, to roast some plantains for him.
” Achebe also suggests the idea that Okonkwo relies on his wives more than we are made to believe. He needs his family just as much as they need him. In Chapter 9, Okonkwo and Ekwefi attend to their sick daughter, who is near to death. Okonkwo really cares for his children and it shows in this chapter, when Achebe tells us about Ekwefi’s unfortunate luck with children. He tells us that Okonkwo goes to see the medicine man when she mourned the death of her second child to see why this was happening.
The story shows that Okonkwo shares the closest relationship with Ekwefi, out of the three wives, as she is the wife that Okonkwo knows the best: “Of his three wives, Ekwefi was the only one who would have the audacity to bang on his door. ” The quote suggests that Ekwefi is a bit more confident and willing to stand up to Okonkwo no matter how many times she may get beaten. It shows that Ekwefi is not threatened or intimidated by Okonkwo’s regular violence.
Ekwefi is treated like a bit of a slave (as well as the other two wives) but I don’t think Okonkwo sees it that way because in those days, the wife served the husband as if it was a kind of particular law. There are rare occasions where Okonkwo and Ekwefi do actually show their affection towards each other when it matters. Although I think Ekwefi cares more for Okonkwo than vice versa, as she was-and still is-deeply in love with him: “… she ran away from her home and husband to marry Okonkwo.
” When reading through some aspects of their relationship, I feel that Okonkwo sees his wives as just trophies he has collected, as he expects them to serve him and do anything he asks them to do. This idea is also proved by the fact that Achebe expresses how much Okonkwo is waited on and just how much he takes his wives for granted. “Ekwefi was first drawn to Okonkwo during a legendary wrestling match where he beat the notorious ‘Amalinze the Cat'”. Their relationship began on an extremely physical level of intimacy, but has now grown into something a little bit tenser over the years.
This is due to Achebe’s constant interrogation of the characters, showing us that they are anything but intimate these days. Okonkwo is not the man Ekwefi thought he was when she first layed eyes on him. She is now part of an unequal companionship where the man is the king of the obi who doesn’t treat his wife as his equal. When I read the novels perception of their relationship, I feel that Ekwefi feels like being married to Okonkwo is becoming to feel like a chore because she cooks and cleans not because she wants to, but because she has to otherwise she will get a severe beating from the man who, at first, was her prince charming!
On the other hand I do feel as if Ekwefi is Okonkwo’s favourite wife because she has the boldness and courage to stand up to him, although he dislikes it, he can see that she is a strong and fiery character. We are also made to believe that Ezinma is also Okonkwo’s favourite daughter. I think after seeing all the downfalls in the relationship, there is something beneath Okonkwo’s surface which shows he does care, but he is not known for showing any open emotion: he thought all emotions were a sign of weakness and femininity, especially if they were shown by a man.
I think that Okonkwo’s reputation as the greatest wrestler in the village has certainly added to the distance between Ekwefi and himself. Whereas normal couples draw closer as the years go by, Achebe shows how Ekwefi and Okonkwo have travelled further and further apart partly due to Okonkwo’s beliefs in right and wrong: Wives are supposed to stay at home and look after the children whilst taking care of the cooking and cleaning, and their purpose in life is to serve under their husbands.
Achebe has given us an insight into the roles that Okonkwo and Ekwefi play in their relationship as well as an in depth look at them as individual characters. Through various parts in the play, aspects of their relationship can be interpreted in a number of different ways to show their love or their frustration to one another.
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