The main character in Things Fall Apart
Is Okonkwo a better man than his father? Why or why not? Were the Christian missionaries good men or not? Explain
The main character in Things Fall Apart is a man whose name is Okwonkwo. Okwonko’s father is Unoka. He is characterized as a lazy, with the burdens of unaccountable debts, and with no titles to owning any land. These certain titles were basically the measurement of one’s success during their lifetime. In Okwonko views his father as a failure and is relectant to following the footsteps of becoming a failure like his father.
Unlike Umofia, Okonkwo is a strong, hard-working, respected, and well known man in his village. Okonkwo bases his life and focuses his entire life on his will and desire to prove that he was a better man than his old man was. It is evident for readers to observe that Okonkwo is indeed very much ashamed of his father, for he was weak and died with no major accomplishments that were fulfilled through his life.
Due to Okonwo’s fear of failure, weakness, and ending up like his own father, he worked hard to achieve a better life. However, because of this same reason, his very own life starts to “fall apart” when certain things happen throughout the story. Like any other character in any story, Okonkwo has many character setbacks. In order to demonstrate his masculinity and manliness, he uses rage, anger, and violence. These are the certain characteristics that later on will see through to his own destruction.
By taking a quick look at Okonkwo’s life, it is evident to see that Okonkwo was a failure. Beginning with the death of Ikemefuna, where his family blames Okonkwo. Okonkwo is greatly affected. Not only does he become sleepless and restless, but he begins to drink away his sorrows, which contributes to his life slowly falling apart. Then, Okonkwo was evicted from his clan for several years, which caused him to lose his land and animals. Slowly, Okonkwo is seen slipping farther and farther away from his goals and dreams of being a successful being. Lastly, when his oldest and most favored son, Nwoye converts to the religion of Christianity, Okonkwo’s life was coming to a ruin. One can clearly see that Okonkwo has not only lost hope and faith in his friends and family, but in himself.
Ironically, at the end of the novel, Okonkwo ends up killing himself. It is obvious to see that he did not accomplish any goals and that he was doomed, due to the fact that he had become just like the person he did not want to be, his father, a failure. Even though Okonkwo disagreed and despised his father’s beliefs and way of life, both father and son died unhappy and by themselves.
I think that the Christian missionaries had good intentions and are not necessarily bad men, however, because the novel is based on the perspective of the tribe, the Christian missonaries are put in a spot to where they are portrayed as the bad guys. The Christian missonaries try to descend upon the tribe with their Western beliefs and their way of living and convert the tribe into their religion of Chrisitanity. The beliefs and values of the tribe are ridiculed and looked down on.
In other words, the Christian missonaries intrude on the foundation of the tribes whole existence and way of life. The tribe did not comprehend Christian customs because they have lived the way they have been living for so such a long time. The tribe has only been familiar with their own culture, making it extremely hard for the people to adapt to the Christian way. At the same time, at first, the Christian missionaries hardly understood the tribe itself. They had minimal amount of knowledge on their lifestyle. It was not fair for the Christian missonaries to quickly judge the tribe and to claiming that the tribe’s religious beliefs were false.
The tribe has lived for generations and generations just fine without their existence being touched and violated. Although the Christian missonaries where just trying to enlighten the clan and improving the tribe’s way of living, it seems that they have tampered with the structure of the whole society. If someone lives a certain and specific way their whole life, it is hard for them to adapt to such drastic and dramatic changes. Also, not everyone chooses to convert and change their whole way of living. It is difficult to not succumb to these changes and having to watch your close family members and friend take a whole different path. This makes it very hard on the people of the tribe. This can be seen with Okonkwo and Nwoye when Nwoye converts to Christianity.
At first, the Christian missonaries seem like madmen and absolutely insane to the tribe. The proclamation of evil ways and how the tribe’s gods were false only attacted the people of the tribe who were outcasts. Nonetheless, with Christianity also came along many more positive things such as schools and hospitals. Christian missonaries also taught the tribe that they can create higher income with their abundant resource, palm oil. Even though the Christian missonaries seem like they were bad men, I think that they were only trying to help.
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