Recommended question: How and why is a social group represented in a specific way? Title of the text for analysis: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe Part of the course to which the task refers: Part 3: Literature– text and context Key Points:
– Specify masculinity in Okonkwo’s perspective
– Check out how Okonkwo never shows his feelings because of worry – Explain the struggle of Okonkwo’s strength
– Discuss the importance of Okonkwo’s credibility of Umuofia – Explain why Okonkwo highlighted on his masculinity
In Chinua Achebe’s unique, Things Break down, analyses of masculinity were challenged.
Masculinity commonly means the qualities connected to males. Okonkwo, a strong wrestler and leader, had his own qualities of what manliness was. According to Okonkwo’s definition of masculinity, men existed as strong. Anything that did not demonstrate strength was thought about as weak, which was not in his meaning of masculinity. While masculinity suggested having qualities of a guy, Okonkwo was represented to reveal how he perceived a male truly specified through the aspect of fear and why he displayed manliness in this method.
Okonkwo hesitated of showing feelings, since exposing any beliefs showed flaws. Okonkwo liked Ikemefuna and treated him as if he was his own kid.
However, Okonkwo did not show any emotions towards Ikemefuna. He thought revealing love suggested weakness. Due to his fear of flaw, Okonkwo felt the feelings inwardly. The only real feeling he ever brought to life was anger. “The only thing worth showing was strength.” (Achebe, 1994, p.
28) Showing emotions such as happiness or unhappiness was a representation of inflammation, which Okonkwo hated. If Okonkwo showed any feeling at all, it would be proof that he was weak. In one scenario, Okonkwo needed to select his track record of a strong male authority or his devotion to Ikemefuna, the one he considered to be his child. This substantial struggle to prove Okonkwo’s strength was questioned when he was required to kill Ikemefuna. Okonkwo killed Ikemefuna when Ogbuefi Ezeudu bought him to not touch the young boy. (Achebe, 1994, p. 57) The guy cleared his throat, prepared and raised his machete, Okonkwo averted. He heard the blow.
He heard Ikemefuna cry ‘my father, they have killed me!’ as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak. (Achebe, 1994, p. 61) Okonkwo was afraid people would think that if he did not kill Ikemefuna, whom he loved, he would seem weak. His character to show others that he was not weak was a greater importance than his attachment for the boy. He wanted to be brave and keep his reputation as a wrestler and a leader of Umuofia. There was one instance that Okonkwo went against his definition of being manly. This showed the vulnerability of Okonkwo, which showed why he was afraid of being weak.
Okonkwo became depressed after the death of Ikemefuna. He did not sleep and did not eat any food. (Achebe, 1994, p. 63) Okonkwo was compared to a “shivering old woman,” (Achebe, 1994, p. 65) showing that only woman showed their emotions. If a man could not get over the death of someone he loves, he was nothing more than a woman, who was generally the one that mourned the death of another. Being depressed over a death was a sign of gentleness, which Okonkwo did not desire. Shivering implies weakness because when people shiver, they shake, are unstable, and are not usually strong enough to hold themselves together. So, Okonkwo could not control himself in this situation.
It also showed fear and a loss of composure, two things that a man should never express. The use of the word ‘old’ also showed how fragile he was becoming in this instance. It was a similar idea when Okonkwo thought he was old because old people in general were weak; as people get older, their heart and muscles were degenerated, so the quality was not durable. There was a reason why Okonkwo emphasized his masculinity. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was poor, weak, lazy, a failure and a coward. Unoka was in a lot of debt. He loved gentleness and idleness. He did not like the sight of blood. (Achebe, 1994, p. 6) In contrast, Okonkwo entered upon to be strong and hardworking, not wanting to be gentle or idle. The strong wrestler was not scared of blood at any moment, showing he was a strong individual that can deal with death of others. (Achebe, 1994, p. 67)
From then on, Okonkwo wanted to show Umuofia that he was not similar to his father in any way; he wanted to be better than his father because he did not want to be known as a son of a borrower who did not give money back to the lender. As a result, Okonkwo worked to not be a failure like his father. He changed how he behaved as a man to be successful. (Achebe, 1994, p. 4) Okonkwo worked hard to have a title in Umuofia and to supply money for his family.
Masculinity was shown in the fear of weakness because Okonkwo represented masculinity through his behavior. Masculinity was depicted in Okwonko’s fear of weakness. In some parts of this novel, Achebe showed the reader the wrong ways to be a man by showing what was weak, causing the readers to believe the complete opposite of how a man should truly act. Okonkwo was afraid of being weak because it would directly contradict his idea of how he should act as a man. He strived for strength and power. By showing his aversion of weakness to the readers, it gave Okonkwo’s definition of masculinity. Okonkwo viewed masculinity as strength, bravery, successful, and feelings of anger.
Achebe, C. (1994). Things fall apart. New York: Anchor Books.