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Why does Okonkwo sacrifice himself towards the end of the book and how does he try to...

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booyakasha | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 15, 2009 at 2:36 AM via web

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Why does Okonkwo sacrifice himself towards the end of the book and how does he try to change their Ibo society at the time with his death?

My friend said Okonkwo sacrificed himself towards the end because he is trying to persuade the converts to join back to their old tradition. He said this is powerful because Okonkwo was a man that believes in the Ibo tradition and has never questioned it, however committing suicide is against their Ibo customs.

He said something like that, but I don't really understand what he's trying to express. Can anyone explain it to me as well as your opinion for for the question?

Thanks soooooo much!

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 16, 2009 at 12:38 PM (Answer #1)

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I'm not sure whether the death of Okonkwo is a sacrifice or an act of desperation. Okonkwo has tried to save the Ibo traditions but he realizes that too many people have converted and they will not fight the white colonists. Since he knows he is outnumbered and cannot win, he commits suicide. Ironically, his act brings many of the Ibo's back to their traditional beliefs about suicide. The Ibos had always considered suicide a great sin and they continue that tradition when Okonkwo commits suicide. Obierika understands the irony of the situation when he tells the District Commissioner,“That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now, he will be buried like a dog . . . ” In other words, by killing himself, Okonkwo has brought his people back to their traditional beliefs and that will lead to a disrepectful burial like his father's, something Okwonkwo tried his entire life to avoid.

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