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Describe the character Unoka, and how is Okonkwo's life influenced by his attitude?

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hattiee | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 5, 2009 at 4:28 AM via web

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Describe the character Unoka, and how is Okonkwo's life influenced by his attitude?

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted September 7, 2009 at 9:09 AM (Answer #1)

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Unoka is Okonkwo's father, and he serves as the guiding force for Okonkwo's life, in that Okonkwo is determined to never resemble him. Unoka possesses everything that Okonkwo hates-gentleness, lack of ambition, and sensitivity to people and nature. Unoka is also a gifted musician who loves fellowship, the change of the seasons, and children. Although Unoka is tall, his stooped posture bears the weight of the tribe's scorn. While the the tribe rejects him as well, it is more due to his perceived laziness and inability to carry through, than his sensitive nature. When he borrows money, he does not pay it back. He does not plant crops, leaving Okonkwo to take care of the entire family. These traits influence Okonkwo to entirely abandon his feminine side and live the other extreme, as a brutal, abusive tyrant.

Unoka is truly happy only when making music on his flute, or when drinking palm wine. This could be a result of his status within the tribe-his isolation leading him to drink. Tribal customs hold no interest for him, since he hates war and is sickened by the sight of blood. thus he carries no souvenirs of his battles: he has had none. He dies in disgrace, fittingly by a disease that denies him burial, and forces his body to be left in the Evil Forest. This ultimate shame drives Okonkwo to overcompensate for his father's weaknesses.

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