Okonkwo The Power Hungry Warrior in Things Fall Apart
The novel, Things Fall Apart, takes place in a Lower Nigerian village of Iguedo and Mbanta and is centered around a man by the name of Okonkwo. Okonkwo, the protagonist, is introduced as the most renowned warrior of all tribes who brought great honor to his tribe by becoming the top wrestler of the villages. Throughout the book, Chinua Achebe expresses Okonkwo as a man whose obsession with power is what ultimately leads him to failing in attempts to obtain that power through his role as a farmer, the actions towards his family, and his actions towards the new civilization of the village.
When introducing the protagonist, Achebe makes Okonkwo’s thirst for power and status very apparent not just through his physical accomplishments, but agricultural achievements as well. Okonkwo’s obsession with power can first be seen through his duties as a farmer. In the book, Okonkwo, as well as being a great warrior and wrestler to feed his thirst for power, also was a very successful farmer in an effort to increase his social status in the village. The characteristic that set Okonkwo apart from the rest of the farmers was his ambition to become the best.
Okonkwo The Power Hungry Warrior in Things Fall Apart Essay Example
Though being an ambitious person may seem like a good quality, Okonkwo’s mixture of arrogance and ambition gets the best of him when he tried to ignore nature and relies solely on his abilities as a farmer to grow yams on dry soil, but sadly produced nothing. An example from the book that can be seen was when it started to rain. Okonkwo began to farm right away and overcompensated the rain and planted four hundred seeds, only to find the soil has dried out the next morning.
Still, Okonkwo tried to do whatever it takes to get them to grow but failed. This can be expressed in the book by how the author describes how much effort Okonkwo put into trying to save his yams by writing, “He had tried to protect them from the smoldering earth by making rings of thick sisal leaves around them. But by the end of the day the sisal rings were burned dry and grey. He changed them every day, and prayed that the rain might fall in the night. But the drought continued for eight market weeks and the yams were killed. ” (Achebe 8).
Shortly after that, Achebe further describes how the other farmers that didn’t put in as much effort lost the least by saying, “Some farmers had not planted their yams yet. They were the lazy easy-going ones who always put off clearing their farms as long as they could. This year they were the wise ones. ” (Achebe 8). In this quote, Achebe is saying that the farmers who didn’t try to outshine the other farmers, were the ones who lost the least. Ironically, Okonkwo’s determination to become the most powerful farmer ended up making him the one that lost the most.
Not only does Okonkwo, try to dominate the farming game, but also tried to increase his power through how he treated his family. Along with using farming to assert his power, Okonkwo also used the treatment of his family to characterize his obsession with power. Throughout the book, Okonkwo constantly abuses his wives both verbally and physically. Okonkwo’s completely disregarded the traditions during the Week of Peace and ends up beating his wife in hope of showing other his rule breaking mentality. Instead, he gets in great trouble for it.
An example from the book that displays his superior mentality was how the narrator described Okonkwo by saying, “Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess. ” (Achebe 10). By this quote the narrator is stating that Okonkwo has neither fear nor remorse, and that he is unstoppable by any type superior power like a god or a goddess. Though he felt like beating his wife would show his authority and power, it only angers those who hold power in the village. For example, when the priest found out what Okonkwo had done he said, “Take away your kola nut.
I shall not eat in the house of a man who has no respect for our gods and ancestors. “(Achebe 11). This quote shows Okonkwo’s obsesses over wanting power, through his dominance in his family back fires and set him back even further from his ultimate goal. He had hoped to be praised for his authority in his family, but instead was frowned upon and punished for his crime. Not only is this idea of a power hungry man seen of his role in his family, but also in his actions upon the return to his father land after being exiled for seven years for accidently killing his friend’s son.
The third example that shows Okonkwo and his obsession with power can be in his action when returning to his father land. Before returning to his father land, Okonkwo had big plans for how he would rise to power and even surpass the status he had before he was exiled. Unfortunately, when he returned he accomplished little to nothing. Instead, returns to a land that has been colonized by what he calls the “albinos”. In an act to try and assert dominance, Okonkwo, after being released from prison, tries to gather the village and rebel against the white men, which excites him.
This can be shown in the book when the narrator said,” Okonkwo slept very little that night. The bitterness in his heart was now mixed with a kind of childlike excitement; before he had gone to bed he had brought down his war dress, which he had not touched since his return from exile. ” (Achebe 70). This quote is a perfect example of Okonkwo’s obsession with power. Having had a little taste of power by getting ready to rebel, Okonkwo becomes very excited and could not sleep. Also, the narrator adds a statement saying, “If Umuofia decided on war, all would be well.
But if they chose to be cowards he would go out and avenge all himself. ” (Achebe 70). This emphasizes Okonkwo’s obsession with power and authority. When the day had finally come Okonkwo, along with other villagers marched to the meeting. When they arrived, before the messenger could say anything, Okonkwo killed him with his machete, to convey his authority and power. Unlike Okonkwo, the other villagers allowed the rest of messengers to escape, leaving Okonkwo as the biggest and most targeted criminal.
Knowing that he would soon be punished, Okonkwo’s “heroic” act leads by taking his own life. Okonkwo’s last testimony was through his death, by trying to tell others that only he had the power to control his death. When in reality, it took away an ability of having power. In the book, Things Fall Apart, Achebe portrays Okonkwo as being a man that is very narrow minded, and only cares about power. Throughout the book he is able to characterize this through Okonkwo’s way of farming, the way he treats his family, and his actions toward the change of his father land.
By using the combination of overconfidence and desire to become more powerful through farming, ultimately ended in failure. Also, he thought abuse he caused to his wives heightened his power, but it only made others question him more. Lastly, through the actions of killing the messenger and then killing himself, showed that no one can control him nor had power to punish him any further. All of the things Okonkwo thought would make him stronger, only hurt him more and ultimately led to his death and the end to all the power he worked so very hard to obtain.