Things Fall Apart
In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo worries that after his participation in the killing of Ikemefuna his emotions will show as a sign of weakness. Expressing emotions as a male is seen as a sign of femininity and therefore a sign of weakness in Ibe culture. Okonkwo tries to hide his emotions behind his actions and temper that lead to the foreshadowed ending of the village slowly falling apart. At the start of the novel we are introduced to Okonkwo as an amazing fighter who was nothing like his selfish and title-less father.
This immediate introduction to his father emphasizes the importance of Okonkwo not wanting to be associated with his father. His father was a drunkard who was seen as a selfish and lazy man that disgraced his family. Okonkwo is determined to not let this be his destiny so he conceals his emotions as much as possible. The importance of being seen as a leader in Umofia is very important. “So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land- masculine stories of violence and bloodshed. (52) this is a perfect example of what it takes to be masculine in their village. Okonkwo emotions clearly start to slip after he puts Ikemefuna out of his misery after the sacrifice. He hides his emotions behind angry out bursts and vents all of this towards his wives and emotional son Nwoye. Okonkwo favored his other sons more than Nwoye mainly because he didn’t seem masculine and therefore could later bring shame to the family if he does not grow up to be like his father.
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However to properly understand Okonkwo’s emotional stress the reader must separate his real anger from the concealing anger. A good example of his real anger is when he finds out that one of his banana trees is dead due to his wife. “Who killed this banana tree? … okonkwo gave her a sound beating and left her and her only daughter weeping. ” (38) This excerpt shows how small things easy enrage him. After the sacrifice of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo does not eat for two days and doesn’t find the same fulfillment in things that used to satisfy him.
He is also worried that his softer side may be revealed. “When did you become a shivering old woman,’ Okonkwo asked himself, ‘you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed. ”(65) This excerpt is a prime example of what his obligation is and what makes him feel more masculine. Okonkwo is the epitome of what they consider a manly being and he does whatever it takes to keep that position.
As the story continues Okonkwo doesn’t manage his anger any better and ends up being exhiled from the village for accidentally killing a young man at a funeral. After being gone for seven years missionaries from Europe come to Umofia to spread Christianity and attempt to make the villagers more “civilized”. The missionaries set up a church, a school, and even a government and laws that the Umofians must abide by. This angers okonkwo who loses his temper and ends up killing a missionary and later hangs himself. The way things fall apart in Okonkwo’s life resembles the down fall of the village.