Better Students Ask More Questions.
In the story Things Fall Apart, why did Okonkwo kill himself?
12 Answers | add yours
High School Teacher
Throughout the whole novel, Okonkwo struggles with the changes taking place in his tribe. He is initially known as one of the strongest, most honorable tribesmen, but as the white man begins coming in and other tribal members begin to change as a result, particularly his own son, Okonkwo cannot handle the change. He sees these other clansmen as weak, like he saw his father was weak. The one thing Okonkwo fears the most is weakness. By novel's end, Okonkwo has tried to remain strong against the tide of change, but he appears to be the only one. When he kills the colonial official in the end, it is one last attempt to 'save' his tribe from the weakness and influence of the white man. No one else backs his attempt however, so Okonkwo, in desperation, chooses the most dishonorable death possible, suicide, rather than allow himself to be handed over to the 'weak' white man.
Posted by cmcqueeney on July 21, 2007 at 11:47 PM (Answer #3)
Okonkwo commits suicide because he loses his place as a man in his culture, a place now filled by the Church and Christian values. From the beginning of the story, he worries about his manhood, seen in his rejection of his father who was womanly, having no titles, and perpetually indebted to his kinsmen. He commits murder out of frustration in defending his manhood, but his clansmen refuse to retaliate against the white man and defend his act of murder. His act of suicide is at once an act of defiance in asserting the traditional ways of his tribe but also an act of humiliation because those ways are no more: Christianity has superceded them. Ironically, his suicide can be seen as a womanly act—the act of a coward, so that Christianity has stolen from him the manhood he strived so hard to establish throughout his life.
Posted by sagetrieb on July 21, 2007 at 11:38 PM (Answer #2)
Okonkwo kills himself because he has no choice, really. He has killed a colonial official with a machete. His own people have been divided by loyalties to the colonial regime and their own religion and culture. They could have risen up and defended Okonkwo's actions, but they do not. To avoid the punishment that is sure to come, Okonkwo takes matters into his own hands and hangs himself from a tree.
Posted by jamie-wheeler on July 21, 2007 at 11:27 PM (Answer #1)
Okonkwo's life is dominated by fear,the fear of failure,so when he felt himself helpless and could not change the circle of events and he became useless for his comunity,he run away from this feeling wich was killing him and chose another way to die,to suicide and it was a mercy for him.
Posted by hadjer on February 10, 2008 at 2:54 AM (Answer #4)
Okonkwo knew that the British would hang him, therefore he chose to hang himslf rather than let his enemies do it.
Posted by roma72 on June 7, 2008 at 10:16 AM (Answer #5)
Okonkwo was left alone. in Chapter 24(i believe, near the end) he realizes that after he murdered one of the white men, the rest of the clan did not react. They didn't jump in to help him, they just let the rest of the men escape. In letting them escape, Okonkwo was left with the realization that the "white men" conquered their tribe with Christianity, regardless of whether it was by conversion or force. (Though in my opinion, what kind of Christian would mistreat equal members of the human race in such a way? I am not religious, but from what I've understood about religion, that doesn't seem like a very Godly thing to do.) Okonkwo knew the tribe had lost. Placing myself in Okonkwo's position, I probably would have done the same. Being strong-willed and stubborn as he is, I would have much rather preferred dying in DISFAVOR of MY OWN gods than try and live and cope in a world run according to the rules of a god I don't believe in. It was a way for Okonkwo to rebel against the norm of the Christian society. Yes, it was an abomination to commit suicide, BUT it was a way for him to keep himself tied to his religion and his beliefs. It had not been uncommon for Okonkwo to do things in disfavor of the cultural practices of his clan. The Week of Peace? Basically his suicide could have been symbolic to where he really stood in the cultural/religious aspect. He tried his hardest to not displease his Gods but always managed to screw up somewhere. Yet he maintained himself totally untied to the Christian religion. That shows how devoted he was to the Kingdom under his supreme god.
Posted by thecrowing63 on September 21, 2011 at 3:37 PM (Answer #6)
Okonkwo kills himslef because he sees that the introduction of Christianity into his tribe has turned his once strong clan into an affeminite one. Since he fears weakness, he cannot stand being associated with this kind of tribe. On top of this, he also killed a court messenger, and as stated previously in the book, intentional murder is the worst offence possible.
1. wanted to disconnect himself from a womanly trible
2. killed a court messenger
Posted by mchiarella15 on February 13, 2012 at 7:18 AM (Answer #7)
Okonkwo kills himself because his worst fear is the fear of failure, and he sees himself and he tribe as failing. Throughout the book the Igbo people are colonialized and their culture is slowly taken over by the British. Okonkwo tries to grasp onto the traditions but he isn't strong enough to stop the flow of change by himself. His son leaves to become a Christian, the tribe won't go to war against the British, and he faces execution for killing the white man. His son will also not continue to offer sacrifices to his ancestors, so he is already doomed to displease the gods (so commiting suicide is no worse then dying a regular death). He can't adapt so he kills hiself rather than find a middle ground to live in, between Igbo and British culture.
Posted by ameliab555 on March 9, 2012 at 2:51 PM (Answer #8)
At the novel's conclusion, Okonkwo hangs himself as he feels that he can no longer exist in his clan, which has become weak and will no longer fight its enemies, namely the White Man. Okonkwo finds that everything he ever strove for has become redundant under the rule of white men and the influence of Christianity. Ironically, Okonkwo became that which he was trying to avoid becoming: a disgrace to his clan like his father.
Posted by curly133 on April 27, 2012 at 2:24 AM (Answer #9)
Quiz Taker, eNoter
Okonkwo in things fall apart is a reflection of a greek tragic hero. and like a tragic hero he also has a tragic flaw or hamartia, that is his over obssession with manliness. his suicide can be seen as aresult of his inner conflict. his manly mind hesitate to compromise with the situation. he did not want to be hanged by the british. he has also lost his faith and comradeship in his clan. he did not want to be a part of this disintergrating clan as a ancestrol spirit, as these spirits are to be orphaned in near feature. he feels that it is more honourable to hang himself than to die a honourable death and become an immortal spirit of the clan. also, like caesar, okonkwo dead is more powerful than okonkwo alive. he may become a legend and thus inspire generations to come to retaliate against the whites and thus regain their ethos.
Posted by devudilip on September 29, 2012 at 8:21 AM (Answer #10)
Okonkwo hopes that by killing the messenger, he would spark a war. When the tribe erupts in confusion and turmoil, he realizes that the tribe is no longer strong and his disappointment is too much for him to handle. Okonkwo did not want to change the ways of the tribe and because of his intense fear of being weak like his father, he lashed out. When the tribe refuses to stand with him, he knows that the old ways are dead and he has the same disdain for his tribe that he had for his father. Also, he understands the punsihment that he will be given by the white government and would rather hang himself than allow the kotmas the satisfaction of hanging him.
Posted by janlracz on March 1, 2013 at 6:02 PM (Answer #11)
Okonkowo, being the strong willed man that he was, could not bear the thought of having his life ended by the very laws, the very people that he so strongly resisted. His suicide was a statement that he had given up, that the Christians had won, that he would rather die than live in a world ruled by the religion and laws of the white man, of outsiders. He was a strong man, powerful, respected. Yet under the white man he was seen as no more than an ignorant African. He was hailed as the greatest warrior in all the land, yet he was powerless against the converts when he was jailed and beaten. This was not a world he could live in.
Posted by lekifrank on April 10, 2013 at 9:29 PM (Answer #12)
Related QuestionsSee all »
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.