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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
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Compare and contrast Okonkwo with his father, Unoka. Give special attention to the reasons why Okonkwo disdains his father and strives to succeed.

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Okonkwo's father, Unoka , was a debtor and alcoholic, who spent the majority of his days playing his flute, borrowing money, and drinking palm wine. Unoka was not respected by his community members, never earned any titles, and was considered an effeminate man for shying away from war. Okonkwo...

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Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was a debtor and alcoholic, who spent the majority of his days playing his flute, borrowing money, and drinking palm wine. Unoka was not respected by his community members, never earned any titles, and was considered an effeminate man for shying away from war. Okonkwo is embarrassed by his father and goes to great lengths to distance himself from Unoka. Okonkwo resents his father for his failures and terrible reputation. As a young man, Okonkwo is determined to make a name for himself in Umuofia. He develops into a renowned wrestler, a successful farmer, and a respected community member. Unlike his father, Okonkwo is aggressive, masculine, and revered. Okonkwo is not only an accomplished warrior but also earns titles and is viewed as a leader of Umuofia.

Despite Okonkwo's success and numerous accomplishments, his inherent character flaw leads to his tragic death. Similar to Unoka, Okonkwo also has negative qualities and is deeply flawed. Okonkwo's tragic flaw is his fear of being viewed as weak and feminine, which influences him to make violent, brash decisions. Okonkwo and his father are also denied burial rights and thrown into the Evil Forest when they die.

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Okonkwo is tall and strong. He has a short temper and is easily angered. He is impatient and ambitious. His ambition is shown in multiple places in the text; for example, when he wins the wrestling tournament as a young man and when he builds his wealth on his own by starting out as a yam sharecropper.

Okonkwo's father, Unoka, is lazy, poor, and gluttonous. He continuously borrows money from his friends and never pays them back. He is persuasive and is able to continue to convince people to loan him money, even though he already owes them money from borrowing previously. He is a skilled musician.

Okonkwo disdains his father because his father does not represent the values of the Igbu people. Okonkwo overcompensates for his father's failings by being the complete opposite of his father. Okonkwo does not want to owe anyone money. He is a powerful warrior. He shows his wealth and place in society through his land, his houses, his many wives, his children, his yams, and his cowries.

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