He, worked hard at his goal, and he achieved it. Okonkwo, a man with great strength and personality, had achieved his goal to become rich and famous, a privilege that was unseen before in his family. Although Okonkwo reached his goal at an early age, his life began to Fall Apart when tragic episodes took place. We can see that Okonkwo’s life first began to fall apart when Ikemefuna, a captive who stayed at Okonkwo’s home, was killed. Okonkwo had thought of Ikemefuna as one of his own sons.
He was deeply saddened when he was killed.
Achebe shows us the effects that these events have on Okonkwo from then on. Firstly Okonkwo was unable to sleep for the following three days. He also kept on getting drunk, and that was a sign that he was depressed. Achebe in presenting Okonkwo in this way shows us that at this point we should show some sympathy towards Okonkwo. This incident also had a long-term effect on Okonkwo.
From then on his family would look at him as if it were his fault that Ikemefuna is dead. This episode can be seen as an event where Okonkwo looses some faith from his family.
This corresponds to Okonkwo loosing faith in his father. Another important occurrence where one can see that Okonkwo’s life falls apart was when he was in exile for seven years for murdering a clansman. From this episode Achebe implies that Okonkwo’s hopes dreams have begun to fall apart.
His hopes of being a rich and popular individual had drifted away with this upsetting incident. Okonkwo had no longer had his farm or animals. Also Okonkwo lost faith with most of his friends. This goes to show that Okonkwo lost faith with his friends, like his father lost faith with his.
Another episode that showed the downfall in Okonkwo’s life was when Nwoye, his oldest and favourite son, converted to the white mans religion, Christianity. To Okonkwo this was very upsetting because Nwoye was his eldest son, and Okonkwo had the greatest expectations for him. When news came to him that Nwoye was among the white men Okonkwo is also aggravated by his youngest son’s lack of drive. He can see in his son exactly how his father was at that age, care free and lazy, flying kites when he should be working.
From this point in the novel we can foresee that only bad luck was going to face Okonkwo after that. Yet, even though Okonkwo was highly respected and regarded as a great man, many also feared him. “His wives especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper and so did his little children” His whole life was dominated by fear, the fear that he may resemble his father, and this fear lay deep inside of him. His temper often spills over into violence too. “Whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists”
We see this violent side to Okonkwo when we learn that he had been banished from the Ibo tribe for seven years because he killed a boy. Achebe, I think would want us to respond to this murder in a way that does not just condemn Okonkwo’s actions but to make us think why he would do such a terrible thing. Should we feel any sympathy towards Okonkwo at all? I believe that Achebe would expect us to be angry with Okonkwo at this particular point, as he has committed a very serious crime, yet at the same time sympathise with the fact that Okonkwo has to go into exile for seven years.
Okonkwo lost all of his titles and his standing in the Ibo tribe. This would have put a large dent in Okonkwo’s pride, and after the seven years in exile, were over he was allowed to return to the Ibo tribe but with his reputation in ruins, he had to start his life over. This is yet another example of when Achebe implies that we should think about whether we sympathise with Okonkwo or not. When Okonkwo returns after seven years in his mother’s tribe, many things have changed, most of them down to the missionaries, which have come to Africa to try to convert people to Christianity.
Achebe through Okonkwo is able to show the pride he has in Nigerian culture before colonisation. British literature from the post colonisation era of writing perceives native African society as one that has no sense of culture, religion or structure. ‘Things Fall Apart’ is a novel that is able to erode these British stereotypes and present uniquely an account of colonisation from the viewpoint of the African people themselves. Achebe shows that native communities had religion, rich culture (with a detailed history) with a very strong value in community and their social order.
Achebe shows the difference in Ibo society between the individual and the communal aspects. The community is very important to the survival of the tribe, and the people often work together for the betterment of the clan. There are also individual aspects to Ibo society, each person has his or her own ‘chi’ or personal God. This personal God is to watch over a person and protect them, it is believed that some people have a stronger chi than others, and they will achieve a higher standing in the society.
Achebe is showing us that the Ibo tribe are deeply spiritual and positive people with a strong sense of right and support for each other. In British literature that deals with the time of colonisation in the 1890’s Africa is stereotyped a cruel ‘savage’ land. Missionaries are shown to be saviours for the native people. The colonisation was pervaded to bring the culture and order to a country like Nigeria that did not exist prior to British rule. Achebe being an African author is able to remove the bias of British writing in showing the true depth of Nigerian culture and history hundreds of years before colonisation.
The Ibo use of language, particularly their use of stories and proverbs shows the richness of their culture. A community with these aspects is clearly as rich in culture as any society can claim to be. Western literature has always thought that the ‘wondrous prosperity’ and gains colonisation gives the Nigerian people, it has been only beneficial, not undermining their beliefs. It is seen to be nothing but good for the nation. Achebe in removing the bias and stereotypical views shows what the Nigerian people had to sacrifice when colonisation occurred.