However his fears motivate him to take actions that are often unnecessary and ultimately destructive. His fear of failure and weakness leads him to assist in the murder of Snakeskin whom he loved, to beat his wives, be emotionally distant from his children, disown his own son and ultimately commit suicide. Ironically, after all his efforts not to end up like his father, Awoken is rejected in death by his culture just as his father was. Ginkgo’s drive to compensate for his fathers failures, leave him with the inability to respect his own cultures desire for gendered balance.
His hyper masculinity sets him up for an inevitable clash with the Gobo ideal of balance between feminine and masculine qualities. Derek Wright notes that “Ginkgo’s impetuous, aggressive individualism and the belief behind it-?that he must wipe out his fathers memory by succeeding in everything his father failed at-?are out of harmony with a society which is renowned for its talent for social compromise and which judges a man according to his worth, not that of his father” (1990, cited in Owes-Name 1999: 151).
Ginkgo’s imbalance of the feminine and masculine ideal leads him to lack social compromise when his community is engaging in the more feminine practices such as relaxation and celebration. During the Week of Peace Awoken severely beats his wife Gouge as a punishment. “In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace”(21). Again during the Feast of the New Yam, an occasion for joy throughout Muffin. ” Awoken beats and even tries to shoot at his favorite wife Kefir.
Without any masculine roles for him to fill during these periods of celebration, Awoken suffers from “suppressed s he incorrectly correlates these periods of rest and joy with his own fathers weaknesses and failures. Ginkgo’s participation in the killing of Snakeskin ultimately caused him more harm than good. His reputation in the village declines and his family, especially Annoy, loses trust in him. “He called his son, Annoy, to sit with him in his Obi.
But the boy was afraid of him and slipped out of the hut as soon as he noticed him Neil Ten Korean even suggests, “Arguably, the murder-sacrifice of Snakeskin brings down upon Muffin all the unhappy vents that follow. “(2004: 776). By disobeying the Oracles order not to have a hand in Snakeskin’s death, Awoken also risks displeasing the Earth goddess. A point his good friend Beriberi informs him of, “What you have done will not please the Earth. It is the kind of action for which the goddess wipes out whole families. “(47).
Ironically it is this shallow attempt at a show of strength that is the catalyst to his family being banished from the clan for seven years and Annoy heeding “the missionaries’ call to forsake father and mother for Jesus sake. ” (2004: 776). Ginkgo’s death was the result of his own lack of self-control, brought about by his fragile and declining emotional state. As his world fell apart around him, he became more and more disillusioned. Neil Ten Korean notes that “Achebe himself has said, ‘Awoken is cut off from reality, and becomes the victim of illusion, of a false perception of himself.
Hence his self governing chi cannot hold him together, he falls apart; so does his outer world, which suffers an ecological, historical and existential breakdown and escapement-‘(2004: 774). As the weight of failure becomes too much to bare for Awoken, he allows his actions to be governed by his emotions. “In a flash Awoken drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless. Ginkgo’s machete descended twice and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body. ” This final act of impulsive violence was again in contrast to the wishes of his clansmen, “Awoken stood looking at the dead man.
He knew that Muffin would not go to war. He knew because they had let the other messengers escape. This final failure to control his emotions drives Awoken to seal his own fate and take his own life. Ginkgo’s fear of failure and weakness was ultimately his downfall. His constant need to compensate for his fathers failures led him to disrespect his own cultures traditions on numerous occasions. He allowed his fear to govern his actions at times when he should have allowed himself to be governed by his inner chi. As a result, his actions led to him being perceived as just as an abomination and a failure by his clan, just like his father.