A Character Analysis of Okonkwo from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

“I am not afraid of work.”(21) Okonkwo the protagonist demonstrates his maturity in this statement. However, even with his hard bound illusion of what a man should be, he still has his draw backs like everyone else. He is still naïve in his old age. Chinua Achebe introduces Okonkwo as a determined, strong, and dominant character in Things Fall Apart.

Likewise Okonkwo strived to be a man upon men. His various notions of what a man must be created his alter ego of a man with a determined outlook. In previous chapters in the book he states and claims his independence, but really what he’s spatting about his strong will to survive. He states it better when he ask for yams from his dear friend Nwakibie, “I began to fend for myself at an age when most people still sucked at their mothers’ breasts.” (21)His determination rewarded him with the extra seed yams and popularity with the people as he grew up.

In the same manner, Okonkwo did grow up with an alcoholic for a father (Umuofia), and as for the mother, it’s well unknown. But Okonkwo doesn’t let his background become his for ground. He doesn’t let his upbringing determine who he is. He becomes a man of strength instead of a man of weak nest. He always compares himself to his father vaguely in the novel as a feminist and a poor excuse of a father. Throughout the text Okonkwo goes back and forth through his mind of what he shouldn’t be, and that his weak like his father. The comparison goes on till he’s on the field of war. “Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood.”(10) In this very statement he demonstrates how strong he is as an individual. His very strength stretches to his family, but doesn’t transfer to his sons.

In addition to his strength he also presented himself as the alpha male; the man in front of the scene, he was a dominant figure. Since he was an uncompromising man’s man, Okonkwo’s relationship with his family was nothing but dictatorship. Okonkwo only sees his wives and children as nothing but subjects. His very outlook on how a man should be makes him justify his actions by beating his wives without any guilt. He demonstrates my theory on the Week of Piece in his tribe, “Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for the fear of a goddess. Okonkwo’s neighbors heard his wife crying…” (30)He keeps demonstrating this dominate behavior when he takes Ikemefuna life.

Thus we come to a standstill with the character Okonkwo. His strength, dominance, and determination help because his down fall in the end. His personal pride and past tragedy’s forced him to become external in his clan. His finally appearance in the text demonstrates his lack of respect for the laws of the clan. Okonkwo hangs himself purposely breaking the clan’s law. Through the novel nothing changes about our character Okonkwo; we see no changers, but we see that because of that he cannot reason with ethics. He would rather die on his own then have someone or something control his fate. For Okonkwo, to give in would break everything he stood for: determination, strength and dominace.

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A Character Analysis of Okonkwo from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. (2022, Nov 30). Retrieved July 16, 2024 , from

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