Things Fall Apart

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Category: Literature

Date Submitted: 08/26/2010 06:51 AM

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Masculinity changes during times of high stress and low stress. This is evident with Okonkwo's chauvinistic behavior, he believes showing any sign of emotion (besides anger) is a sign of femininity which in turn is a sign of weakness.

This Ibo clan practices widespread tribal traditions, the worship of gods, sacrifice, collective living, war, and magic. Leadership is based on a man's personal worth and his contribution to the good of the tribe. This is where Okonkwo stands out as a great leader of the Ibo tribe. He has earned respect from his fellow tribesmen for his many achievements. However, Okonkwo is still haunted by the actions of his father Unoka, who he considers weak and useless.

In any society there are laws and beliefs that need to be followed and if you break any of these laws there are prices to pay; even if you believe you are above the laws and have a fear of personal humiliation. Okonkwo has difficulty with this at times.

A prefect example of his personal humiliation is during the clan’s “Week of Peace” when he beats his third wife Ojiugo who was having her hair braided and did not cook the noonday meal for Okonkwo and most importantly to him she leaves her children with the first wife to see to their feeding.

As Okonkwo climbs the ladder to success, however, it becomes apparent that his strengths are also his weaknesses: his over confidence becomes pride, his manliness develops into tyranny, and his physical strength eventually turns into uncontrolled rage. The more Okonkwo fights these demons the more they come into fruition. He battles daily with his father’s ghost, what he believes to be the effeminate behavior of his son Nwoye, and all the changes taking place in the villages with the invasion of the white missionaries.

Okonkwo believes that what he has gained in life; he is deserving of. He feels he came from nothing to something, in his mind “by any means necessary” is how he lives....