How does fear affect Okonkwo's actions and relationship with others?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Okonkwo's fear of turning out like his father is the major motive of his life, and also his downfall. Because he does not want his tribe to think he is weak, he becomes the most famous and feared wrestler in the clan. Because he does not want to be unable to support his family, like his father, he works incredibly hard to make a success of his yam farming operation. Because he does not want to appear weak in front of the other men, he beats his wives and acts impulsively, resulting in his accidentally killing people. This causes him to be exiled from his clan for many years. Because he fears that his son will turn out like his grandfather, a weakling, he is cruel to the boy and ruins his relationship with him. Because he fears appearing weak before the men in the hunting party, he participates in the killing of his adopted son Ikemefuna, in spite of being warned by the village elders not to participate. This winds up angering the gods. Okonkwo's fears are what cause things to fall apart in his life.

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