What is the relationship between Okonkwo and the themes of "Things Fall Apart?"

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okonkwo and his actions are related to several themes in "Things Fall Apart". One of the major themes of the novel is the struggle and consequences of holding on to custom and tradition.During the entire novel, Okonkwo tries to live up to his perception of "traditional standards of masculinity". He is disparate to overcome what he thought were his father's failures as a man. This means that he cannot adjust to the changes in his tribe once the missionaries arrive. This inability to accept change destroys Okonkwo. However, another theme of the novel is choice and consequences. Okonkwo makes a very conscious choice when he is a young man to overcome what he considers to be his father's lazy reputation. He gains the respect of his tribe through hard work and the tribe rewards him by honoring him as a great warrior.But when Okonkwo become to proud, he begins to do things her should not do. He kills Ikemefuna because he fears being thought of as weak. A bullet from his gun kills a young man at a funeral. So Okonkwo is banished. However, Okonkwo never takes responsibility for his actions; instead he blames them on his chi, or life force. This lack of acceptance for his own behavior leads to another theme, that of alienation and loneliness. His exile isolates Okonkwo and her must start building his reputation again. However, his unwillingness to accept the changes in his village and adapt to them, cause tragic consequences. Finally, things fall apart for Okonkwo and destroy him.

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Things Fall Apart

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