Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I get the feeling that Okonkwo is kind of the architypical Igbo man. I think he represents the old Africa: the break down of his culture finally causes his tragedy. This story reminds me a lot of a book by Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, which is the bomb (I had to read it for summer reading one year.) Anyway that book is about the fall of the Old South and it's characters tragedies come from their inablity to accept the destruction of their family's old way of life. It's about three brothers who in one way or another are wounded by their love for/dependence on their sister who comes to be considered a fallen woman by the old standards. One character, my favorite, Quintan (sp?) fianlly cannot accept the fall of his family/way of life... poor kid ends up drown. Anyway besides both stories being about the fall of the old way and emergence of the new, besides the inclusions of two characters who represent all or a part of the old way who's tragedies are similar, both stories are also about very human families. Achebe and Faulkner are awesome writers and in both stories the characters humaness comes out subtaly. Also they handel their subject in a very nonjugmental way, the present the old ways as they were, good and bad parts included, as well as their enevitable distruction. One of the things that I think makes their work so powerful is the humanity of the characters: I find Okonkwo very relatable, that relatibility makes the tragedy that much more powerful. Okonkwo is a man with fears and ambitons and character quirks, he is a man. I'm a navy brat, Okonkwo is a soldier and he acts like one; Okonkwo is a Igbo warrior but he's also someone you might meet on the street anywhere. Relatiblity makes a character sympathetic I think. This is the story of imperilism but it is also the story of Okonkwo the warrior, the tragic hero, the hardworking, imperfect man.


mere said...

I really like the idea that Okonkwo is a symbol for Africa. I think that as his culture becomes increasingly corrupted, in turn, his life goes to shambles as well. It's a very interesting parallel.

Mallory said...

I agree that Okonkwo is considered the archetypcal character for Igbo men. He beat the cat and built his own wealth and now has a family and 3 wife's. However I think that he sometimes become to obsessed with keeping his image of a tough guy that he can look like a jerk.

sara pendleton said...

Okonkwo reminds me of a soldier: growing up I only really knew military families for the longest time. A lot of my friends growing up were navy. We all moved every couple years but they were the only really permenant people in my life, a lot of friends came and went but I was too young to really be able to say in contact with anyone besides military kids. For career military families, the armed forces are more of a lifestyle than a job. Anyway I know a lot of military families, I come from one, and occasionally you'll find guys like the great Santini, especailly among people who make a career out of it. Okonkwo is like that, I think, he wants the next title, the bigger barn, the next rung in the hiearchy ladder, he's also very concerend with apperences and is very commanding; he likes to be in charge and respected. In his house, he liked to give orders, it's not that he doesn't love his children, because I'd argue he dose, but he kind of treats his kids, especailly his son, very stictly because he wants his son to be like exactly like him. Ok, dunno how familar yall are with this kind of character but he reminds me of a Great Santini type.