In Things Fall Apart, list four physical characteristics that separate Okonkwo's appearance from that of the other men in his village.

3 Answers | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Four physical characteristics that separate Okonkwo's appearance from that of the other men in his village related to his stature. For example, in physical characteristics, he is so much taller and stronger than other men in his village that, at age eighteen, he was able to conquer the seven-year reigning wrestling champion, Amalinze the Cat, by getting the decisive throw in their match.

Okonkwo's physical characteristics are that he is tall in height and "huge" in girth: he has height, bone and muscle, so much so that he himself has held the reigning wrestling champion title for seven years. It is said of him that his physical frame grew "like a bush-fire in the harmattan." A harmattan is a dry, hot trade wind that blows from the east across the Sahara. Growing like a bush fire in a hot, dry, fiercely blowing harmattan wind is a cultural metaphor for growing astonishingly quickly.

The physical characteristics of his facial features, walk and stance also set him apart. His facial features are described to tell us he has bushy eyebrows, a wide nose and a "severe look" to his facial expression. His walk and stance tell us that he walks forward on his feet so "his heels hardly touched the ground" and that, consequently "he seemed to walk on air" and seemed always ready to "pounce on somebody."

A stammer in speech may not result from a physical characteristic but when Okonkwo stammered, he flew into a rage because he "couldn't get his words out fast enough," and at these times his actions matched the severity of his facial expression as he used his physical size and strength to lash out at people with "his fists."

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Achebe describes Okonkwo as physically stronger than other men in his village. He works very hard on his farm so that he can provide for his family. In fact, Achebe indicates that Okonkwo toiled from “cock-crow until the chickens went to roost” long after other men had retired to rest. His physical might enable him fight to defend his village and he earns great respect when he defeats Amalinze the Cat.  This trait clearly separates Okonkwo from his father, who was famous for laziness and even bequeathed the name agbala for his feminine tendencies.

Achebe describes Okonkwo as being huge and tall with “bushy eyebrows and a wide nose” that gave him an intense and intimidating look. Also, he has a unique spring-like walking style because his heels hardly touched the ground as though on constant alert to attack. A combination of these characteristics instilled fear in not only his wives and children, but other villagers as well. Achebe also describes Okonkwo as having a slight stammer which is worsened by anger.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In the beginning of the novel, Okonkwo is described in a variety of ways, his physical prowess is made much of, but he is also described as follows:

"tall and huge, and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose gave him a very severe look."

He is also apparently someone that walks very much on his toes as they say his heels "hardly touch the ground" and he looked like he was walking on springs and just building up tension "as if he was going to pounce on somebody."  This was in almost complete contrast to his father who was tall but very thin and stooped over.

We’ve answered 317,907 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question