Okonkwo's Desperate Choice: A Deep Dive into the Protagonist's Final Act

Categories: Culture

Chinua Achebe's magnum opus, "Things Fall Apart," takes readers on a compelling journey into the Igbo society of Nigeria, introducing us to a world that grapples with the tension between tradition and change. At the heart of this narrative stands Okonkwo, a man whose tragic end leaves readers with more questions than answers. Why did Okonkwo, a character defined by his relentless drive and ambition, decide to take his own life? This query is not just a matter of narrative closure, but it speaks to the larger themes Achebe seeks to address.

To understand Okonkwo’s desperate choice, we first need to delve into his personality and the society that shaped him. Okonkwo was a man built on the principles of strength, honor, and an insatiable desire to rise above his father's failures. He equated weakness with his father's lackadaisical attitude and vowed never to resemble him. As such, Okonkwo's life was a constant pursuit of hyper-masculine ideals, which, in his mind, were synonymous with success and respect.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer
Doctor Jennifer
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Culture

star star star star 5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

However, the rapidly changing world around Okonkwo was not so forgiving. The arrival of European colonists and Christian missionaries disrupted the traditional Igbo way of life. Suddenly, the values and systems that Okonkwo had dedicated his life to upholding were under threat. His inflexibility and staunch opposition to change only deepened the chasm between him and the evolving society.

The incidents leading up to Okonkwo’s tragic end are telling. His unintentional killing of Ezeudu's son led to a seven-year exile from Umuofia, a punishment that significantly set back his ambitions.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

During his absence, the European influence grew stronger, and upon his return, Okonkwo found his village radically transformed. The new faith had gained many converts, including some of his own family members. Okonkwo's worst fears were being realized: the traditions and values he held dear were eroding.

In a last-ditch effort to rally his clansmen and resist the encroaching foreign influence, Okonkwo killed a European messenger. But instead of rallying behind him, his clansmen held back, signaling their reluctance to wage war against the foreigners. This moment was the final straw for Okonkwo. The society he knew, the values he cherished, and the respect he had worked so hard to earn—all seemed to crumble before his eyes.

Okonkwo's decision to end his life is laden with irony. In Igbo society, suicide is considered an abomination, and those who take their own lives are not given the traditional burial rites. By choosing this end, Okonkwo, in a way, further alienated himself from the very traditions he sought to preserve. Yet, this act was also a final assertion of control. In a world where he felt increasingly powerless, Okonkwo's decision to end his life was, perhaps, the last thing he felt he could dictate.

Achebe's portrayal of Okonkwo's end serves as a powerful commentary on the complexities of identity, change, and tradition. It compels readers to reflect on the dangers of rigidly adhering to ideals without adapting to change. Okonkwo's tragic end is not just the fall of one man but symbolizes the disintegration of a culture under external pressures.

In the end, "Things Fall Apart" and Okonkwo’s final act remind us of the human cost of cultural collisions. Okonkwo, with all his strengths and flaws, becomes a timeless character, embodying the struggle of individuals caught between the past and an uncertain future. His desperate choice serves as a poignant reminder of the lengths to which one might go to preserve their sense of self and honor in a rapidly changing world.

Updated: Aug 29, 2023
Cite this page

Okonkwo's Desperate Choice: A Deep Dive into the Protagonist's Final Act. (2023, Aug 29). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/okonkwos-desperate-choice-a-deep-dive-into-the-protagonists-final-act-essay

Okonkwo's Desperate Choice: A Deep Dive into the Protagonist's Final Act essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment