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In Things Fall Apart, Achebe's message is that power is something to be desired. Okonkwo desires power. He seeks titles to present himself as an honorable leader. He proves himself to be a great wrestler and warrior. People of his clan look up to him:
Okonkwo is a man of great personal achievements. After he threw the great wrestler Amalinze the Cat, at the age of 18, his fame spread. He is a wealthy farmer with three wives, many children, two barns full of yams, and two titles. He has also proven his prowess in two intertribal wars.
Indeed, Achebe is sending the message that power is something one can use to prove one's sense of excellence. Okonkwo is just one leader among the many elders in the clan.
Achebe also sends the message that while some traditions are to be valued, other traditions should be disregarded. Traditions that uphold hospitality are to be honored. Showing respect to the leaders is a great tradition. Showing respect and hospitality are great traditions. Throwing twins into the Evil Forest is a tradition that should not be in practice. Achebe is clear that some traditions are worthwhile, but others are preposterous.
A third message that Achebe is sending is that fear can bring one's downfall. Okonkwo, though a great leader, lives in constant fear. Fear of being like his father, Unoka, is constantly on his mind. Okonkwo beats his wives and children out of fear that they will become weak and useless. Okonkwo cannot rest, even during the week of peace, for fear of being thought of as lazy. Okonkwo kills a boy who called him father, Ikemefuna, out of fear of being considered weak. Achebe is definitely clear in his message that fear will paralyze one. Okonkwo does not truly enjoy his existence. He lives in constant fear. Ultimately, Okonkwo dies in fear. When his clan refuses to go to war against the white missionaries and English Bureaucrats, Okonkwo hangs himself. He ends his life with dishonor and is buried without honor, just like his father. His greatest fear came to past. Achebe's message is quite clear. Fear is the enemy.
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