Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe stars a main character names Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a very strong and powerful man. His biggest weakness is to be feminine and show weakness in himself. However, it is hard to not show emotion for the people he loves such as Ikemefuna and Ezinma.
When the missionaries arrive to Umuofia, it changes everything. The way they change the culture and government also changes Okonkwo. It makes him weaker; and when he makes a decision, hoping it will help Umuofia, it leads to the rapid downfall of Okonkwo.
Okonkwo is very well known throughout his village, even through the other nine villages. He is well respected within his clan of Umuofia. Okonkwo is described as masculine and powerful; yet no matter how powerful he is, he still had fears. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, is known as the village debtor and is also very lazy and irresponsible. Okonkwo’s greatest fear is ending up exactly like his father, unable to pay for his family and a coward. “And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion – to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved.
” (13) Much of Okonkwo’s behavior is because he refuses to be anything like his father. Okonkwo is strong and masculine because he wants to provide for his family. He works hard on his farm work because that is what men do while the women sit in their huts and cook. Okonkwo is very successful in many ways. He has two barns full of yams, along with three wives and kids to provide for. Okonkwo holds a very high position in his community and he is a well known warrior and wrestler. No matter the accomplishment, Okonkwo refuses to get emotional. He is Because his family is a dictatorship, he has complete control over them.
When the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves announce their decision about killing Ikemefuna, Okonkwo is taken by surprise. “As the man who had cleared his throat and drew his machete, Okonkwo looked away.” (61) Okonkwo loved Ikemefuna and it hurt to see his child die, but he knew he couldn’t show emotion or weakness. When Ikemefuna cries out, “My father, they have killed me!” (61) Okonkwo took his machete and cut him to the ground. “He was afraid of being thought weak.” (61)After Okonkwo spent seven years in Mbanta because of his exile after he accidentally shoots Ezedu’s grandson, he returns back to Umuofia in hopes of a big welcome home. Sadly, he got just the opposite. Nobody in Umuofia realized he returned home because of the missionaries.
The village became so wrapped up in some of the clan converting to Christianity and some of them not, they forgot what life was like before all this drama and they forgot all about Okonkwo. Achebe uses Okonkwo as a main character to show how the missionaries change the clan in hopes to convert them to Christianity. “How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? . . . He has a put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
” (176) Everybody knows the village is falling apart piece by piece, and they can thank the missionaries for that. Okonkwo is a warrior and he believes the only way to solve these problems is to exterminate the missionaries, whether the rest of the clan is with him or not. “I do not care what you do. I despise him and those who listen to him. I shall fight alone if I choose.” (201)By the end of the story, Okonkwo decides to chop the head off the messenger because he wants to go to war and he thought the rest of Umuofia wanted to go with him, but Okonkwo was wrong. “Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war.
He knew because they let the other messengers escape.” Okonkwo is so strong and masculine he thought he could fight the missionaries and the rest of Umuofia would follow him. After all, that is how it should be done. Because of what he did, Okonkwo had two options: he could kill himself or he could run away. But to himself, he really thought he only had one option and that was to kill himself. Umuofia didn’t have his back and the village was not going to change on it’s own. Because of the missionaries and their drive to convert the village to Christianity, it made Umuofia awful for the people who wanted to keep their traditions and beliefs alive.
Okonkwo wanted it to be the same as before; to battle for what you wanted. However with the missionaries now in the village, Okonkwo felt there was no hope. He couldn’t kill off the missionaries and the rest of Umuofia was not willing to fight. The only solution was to take himself out of his misery and to kill himself.