Okonkwo’s Downfall in “Things Fall Apart”
Okonkwo brings about his own downfall? Do you agree with this statement? Support with close reference to the novel Things Fall Apart.
“Things Fall Apart” is not only a novel, which describes the social life of Ibo society, but also follows the tragic story of protagonist of this novel. Starting with the prosperous life and ending with suicide, is the reason to categorize “Things Fall Apart” it in the list of tragedies. It cannot be denied that Okonkwo is definitely a tragic character but that is not enough. Okonkwo as a tragic character is not as simple as it seems to be. The novel shares the controversy of Oedipus Rex to the effect that whether Okonkwo is responsible about his downfall or not. From the very beginning of the novel, Igbo society is described in detail with the clear description of the protagonist, who is described as a man of action. With the entry of Okonkwo on the plot, we realize that he uses his fists rather than words, when he becomes angry. He is portrayed as a strong man but fails to balance his masculine and feminine principles. His emotions and reaction is same to his enemies and his friends. Although his background was not strong because nothing was inherited to him from his father as he was a negligent and lazy man yet Okonkwo becomes the successful person of his society by his own hard work. He is a diligent person who is more afraid of failure than celebrations, after his success. Admittedly, there are some incidents which are responsible for the downfall of Okonkwo but they are not enough for his complete downfall so far as he is responsible for his breakdown.
The balance between his muscular qualities emotion is the biggest dilemma of Okonkwo’s life. He could not balance between them. Conflicts always arises in his mind regarding these matters. We are well aware with the fact that he does not pay any attention to his inwardly emotions. He totally ignores them and takes an action instead of making a peaceful decision. There are a lot of examples from the novel, which illustrate that Okonkwo’s actions are responsible for his destruction. Every incident, related to him, substantiates his fear of failure. Even he deals Nwoye with heavy hands because he was well aware with the fate of his father. Thus, he sees his father in his son. It is the only reason he adopts the policy of “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. Another incident which is relevant to mention here is that when he took part in killing Ikemefuna, he should not do that. He deliberately kills Ikemefuna by his own hands to strengthen his influence over the people of his society. His friend Obierika told him that it was not reasonable on his part to take part in the murder of Ikemefuna. He said “If I were you I would have stayed at home, what you have done will not please the earth”. In this backdrop, it can be adjudged that there are a lot of incidents which shows that it was his fear which does not let him to mold his emotions and eventually causes his downfall.
Another relevant element regarding nature of Okonkwo is that he is inflexible. The difficult task of his life is to change his decisions. We see him, in the novel, beating his wife in peace days, wherein he, while ignoring everything, teaches his wife a lesson with the rod. Moreover, he is the person who has hammer in his hands and to person, having only hammer, everything looks like a nail. Although he was a great warrior and took part in killing many people in wars yet he lacks patience and due to this patience he eventually meets his death. After expending his tenure of exile, when he returns, he finds that his son has been converted. He, instead of dealing, European Colonialism, with proper plan and patience kills a missionary, which was obviously not a solution of that problem. He was seeing his culture fading in front of him and he could do nothing but again using his fists. Every problem has different solutions but Okonkwo was not aware with this fact. He was of the view that the only solution of a problem is the use of force.
To sum up the whole discussion, Okonkwo is responsible for his downfall. There are no such events available in the novel, in which outlooks, we can say that those incidents are responsible for the downfall of Okonkwo, therefore, he alone is answerable to his decisions and actions. It all happens because he was too much realist, pay hard attention to work, deals everything with heavy hands, lack of patience, inflexible, could not change himself and fear of his failure. Although he is incomparable in every field of life yet he is not perfect. May be he has emotions but they are worthless as he does not pay attention to them. These were the flaws in his character, which does not let him change according to the changing circumstances of the life and at the end punishes him with the plenty of his life. Consequent thereupon,Okonkwo is adjudged disentitled for any relief, therefore, he is the only person who is responsible for his downfall.