Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I feel bad for Okonkwo

Imagine you growing up in a small town and your father is a drunk that never pays anyone back. Since your father is sleeping all the time and not working, you have to be the one to take care of your family at a very young age. When you grow up of course you don't want to be like your dad! You want to be better because you don't want what happened to you to happen to your kids. You take every precaution not to be like your father; you work hard, you are self-sufficient so no one owes you money, and you raise up this amazing family. Every respects you because of the great man you have become and then your gun explodes and a piece of it kills a kid. Flash forward and you get back home and you try and fight for your rights but then no one agrees with you and you feel like you fell back to the bottom where you started. This is how Okonkwo felt. He tried his whole life not to be the slug his father was. Some can argue Okonkwo is too manly and too harsh, but he has a reason to be. He is scared of becoming his father. Everyone knows what it is like to have their parents do something embarrassing in public, what if that was all the time. Okonkwo was embarrassed to claim him as a father. We, as children, are supposed to learn from our parents' mistakes, and that is exactly what Okonkwo did.

7 comments:

Abbey said...

As I was looking back in the book to study for the test I came across the line "...performed an expensive burial ceremony such as was done for a great man." I immediately thought about Okonkwo and his own death. Okonkwo perceived himself to be the greatest and most masculine member of the clan, if not the whole world. After reading this and reading about Okonkwo's death I felt bad for him. Okonkwo did not get an expensive burial ceremony--he did not even get a burial ceremony at all. He decides his own fate by hanging himself because he doesn't want the white man to do that for him. Unfortunately he is unable to be buried by his closest friends/family and must instead be buried by strangers--the white man. Obierika, while looking at Okonkwo's hanging body, says, "That was one of the greatest men in Umuofia...now he will be buried like a dog." You could argue that what Okonkwo did was noble because he had the power and control over the way his life ended. I feel bad for Okonkwo because he was driven to end his life and cannot be properly buried even though it is what he deserves.

Jack Zheng said...

When we put it into perspective, Okonkwo does deserve sympathy. I think that "Things Fall Apart" is an effective Aristotelian tragedy in terms of evoking pity in the reader, but I am not sure whether Okonkwo would be relatable enough for most readers to be able to evoke fear for oneself.

Antonio Imbornone said...

Your first sentence of this post immediately reminded me of Huck Finn. If I remember correctly, Huck Finn's father was an abusive drunk who had a horrible reputation. Similarly to Okonkwo's relationship Unoka in Things Fall Apart, Huck Finn resents his father for the position he's been put in due to his father's lack of self respect. However, we do not see if Huckleberry would take the same approach to adulthood as Okonkwo, as he must run away from his abusive father. One must commend Okonkwo for defying the odds and growing to build his own success. Okonkwo's freedom to become successful came through the death of his father, while Huck's only route to freedom was running away from his abusive alcoholic of a father.

madison kahn said...

I agree with y'all. I think Okonkwo does deserve some sympathy;he's not that bad of a guy. Honestly, I like the fact that he stands up for what he believes in and tries to better himself because of the bad qualities he sees in his father. He makes a bunch of mistakes (including beating his wife, which I don't really think is excusable), but it doesn't make him a totally unredeemable human being. He shows love for his children (example- following Enzima to the cave), feels that it's his responsibility to provide for his family, and most importantly, protect his village from the white men.

Madison Cummings said...

Okonkwo definitely had everyones best interest at heart when he wanted to fight against the British. You can tell he truly believed that his culture was being destroyed by the British (and that is an understandable assumption), and he really just wanted to save the tradition that the tribe had valued so much and he didn't want to disappoint the ancestors. In my opinion, the British were most definitely in the wrong as they completely invaded the tribes territory and took over. A more reasonable way to convert people would have been to set up camp somewhere else, and stop by the tribe in order to recruit. Not to completely take over and intrude on their already existing tribe.

Jack Zheng said...

Speaking of Huckleberry Finn, we also know that Huck's father dies and his body is discovered in a floating house on the Mississippi River - Jim reveals this to Huck at the end of the story.

Unlike Okonkwo's father, who is a simple man with no concerns over accumulating wealth and power, Huck's father is extremely abusive. He also takes money from Huck to feed his alcoholism, and is jealous of Huck for being able to make money himself.

Jack Zheng said...

When Okonkwo returns from his exile, seven years has passed by and he is very disconnected with Umofia. He doesn't take the time to catch up with what happened, and doesn't realize that the white men are actually well-accepted in the village.
Thus, he kills one of the British messengers (who tells the congregation of leaders of the nine villages to stop their discussion regarding the settlers), thinking that the villagers would immediately revolt against the white men. But to his surprise, they allow the other messengers to escape and question his actions.