In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe has created a character of immense strength and intolerance through Okonkwo. Okonkwo appears as the protagonist and an influential leader of his tribe throughout the novel. He is also a warrior and a successful farmer of great pride. Okonkwo has earned high status in his clan of Umuofia because of his hard work and success in wars. Achebe describes Okwonko as "a tall and a huge man with bushy eyebrows and wide nose which gives him a severe look" (Achebe p 3-4). He breathes heavily like a beast in deep sleep. Okwonko's intimidating looks and defining stature rhymes his outstanding character which is full of energy and callousness.
Okonkwo is revered as a mighty warrior and leader despite his intolerance, easily angered spirit and ceaseless actions of violence. At one time he beats one of his wives incessantly when she fails to return in time to cook the meal. Another time he is filled with rage and kills district officer's messenger. These kinds of actions are very common throughout his entire life and they are triggered by the fact that he does not want to be considered weak. A careful analysis of the death of Ikemefuma gives a good insight on the character of Okonkwo. "He heard Ikemefuma cry, 'My father, they have killed me!' as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak" (Achebe 61).
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Okonkwo's choices and actins are fueled by his fear of becoming weak and idle like his father. Okonkwo's father was a lazy a man who spent most of his time playing music or by relaxing. Okonkwo hates his father's lazy lifestyle and occupies himself with constant work. This makes him a successful leader and a wealthy farmer. However, he is isolated emotionally as anger is the only emotion he releases.
Okonkwo is a very strong and complex character. His stubbornness and strength served him well but also lead to his downfall. In the end he realizes that his tribesmen do not condone his quick actions and violent nature. He commits suicide and dies a shameful death. This impetuous and strict character tries so hard to uphold a certain lifestyle but he ends up as a tragic hero.
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