Saturday, February 14, 2015

How have your surroundings influenced you?

One of my college essays asked me how my surroundings and family had influenced me and shaped me into the person I am today. I think this is a great question to ask of both the Underground Man and Okonkwo.

The Underground Man was written to be the hyperbolized example of a person who was a product of the nineteenth century. The ideas of the Enlightenment and rationalism surrounding this time period caused the Underground Man to focus on solely developing his mind and not on his emotions or spirituality.

Similarly, Okonkwo is influenced by the environment he grew up in. Okonkwo's father, who raised Okonkwo, was an embarrassment and lazy. Okonkwo's entire life is based around his fear of becoming like his father.

To cope with his issues, the Underground Man projects his negative feelings about himself onto others and tries to make himself seem superior to them. Similarly, Okonkwo deals with his feelings by projecting masculinity and trying to advance in society.

Now, I ask you, what in your environment/family has influenced you into becoming the person you are today?


Joe D said...

Above all, (not attempting to me cliché) my late-grandmother, BooBoo, has had the greatest influence on my life thus far. When she was young, she was the valedictorian of both her high school and UCLA graduating classes, and she earned a masters' degree in mathematics. Along with teaching math at Loyola and Delgado, she worked in designing parts of the space shuttles for Martin-Marietta during the Space Race. Besides her employment, she also became a life-master in the card game Bridge and a senior-Olympic table-tennis champion. When she "retired," she became a vehement defender of political transparency in Jefferson Parish until she passed away a little less than a year ago.

Her accolades aside, she was always willing to help me and my relatives succeed. She even volunteered to teach me a level of math beyond what we were doing in school in my freshman year. Her selflessness will never be forgotten by my family, either by memory or by the overbearing influence she had on all of our lives.

Tiffany Tavassoli said...

I think this so true, Isabel. I think that what ultimately defines Okonkwo is his dad's influence on him. It's his greatest fear to become like him, and he worked every single day and moment of his life to prove to himself that he was not, in his opinion, a failure like his father. I think that this relates to something that I brought up in class about whether Okonkwo beats hs children and wives just to prevent them from being like his father or actually because he cares about them. I think it is partially for both reasons, but most of all, because he lives to live up to the own expectations he has set for himself, which derive from his hatred for his father. Unoka's influence on Okonkwo truly does define his actions and character in Things Fall Apart.