a hero or a zero

December 17, 2016 General Studies

In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, the main character, Okonkwo, fits the description of the Umoufian hero because of his strength and success. In reality, Okonkwo’s fight for perfection and leadership of Umoufia ends with Okonkwo himself being his biggest enemy and interfering with his chance to be a true hero.

Okonkwo is one of the most powerful men in Umoufia. In his village, he is both feared and honored. “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. [He] brought honor to his tribe by throwing Amalinze the Cat.”(3) In Umoufia, power is attained by making a name for yourself in any way possible, even if it means fighting and wrestling to get your fame. Although honor is a good thing, when people have to fight to gain it, it becomes less important. Okonkwo works and tends to his crops in a very passionate fashion, and drives everyone around him to work as hard as he does. Because of this, Okonkwo earns his place as one of Umuofia’s most powerful men. In Umoufia, a big family is a source of pride. Although Okonkwo’s children and wives do not always please him, it brings him a source of pride to have three wives and eight children. (in Umoufia women are bought and become wives, so when a man has many wives he is thought to be wealthy). Large families mean that the head of the family is able to support all of them. Okonkwo’s devotion to his crops and family gives to him the respect that any father and husband deserves, and in his culture, being able to fight and kill as well gives him even more influence and power. .

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Okonkwo’s first and most prominent flaw is his fear of becoming a failure. He may be a very powerful man but he has many weaknesses. His farther influences his weakness, fear. Okonkwo takes his fear to the extreme. Okonkwo’s father was a very lazy and carefree man. He had a reputation of being “poor and his wife and children had just barely enough to eat.


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