Compare Obierika's opinion of and relationship with his son Maduka, with those of Okonkwo with Nwoye in Things Fall Apart.

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Obierka is proud of his son Maduka. Maduka is a strong and skillful wrestler; at age of fifteen or sixteen, he participates in a wrestling match and defeats his opponent in an especially innovative and efficient manner. As wrestling is an important way for young men to exhibit their strength and prowess in the Ibo tribe, Maduka earns the admiration of his fellow wrestlers and the men of the tribe with his accomplishment. Obierka treats his son with indulgence, and brags about him proudly to the other men, saying,

"I sometimes think he is too sharp...he hardly ever walks. He is always in a hurry. If you are sending him on an errand he flies away before he has heard half of the message."

Maduka is a credit to his father, and his father does not hide the fact that he loves him.

On the other hand, Nwoye is a sensitive child who shies away from the perceived "manly" activities preferred by the males in the tribe. Nwoye prefers to listen to the stories told by his mother and the other women, and Okonkwo is dismayed by his behavior and belittles him regularly. The relationship between Nwoye and Okonkwo is unpleasant and dysfunctional at best. Okonkwo worries that Nwoye shares similar attributes with his own father, who was easy-going and ineffectual, and not looked upon highly by the tribe. Okonkwo is deeply ashamed of his son; Nwoye's personality taps into Okonkwo's greatest fears about himself. Okonkwo thinks his son tends to be effeminate, and lacking in the qualities that, to him, define a strong warrior and a man. Okonkwo constantly tries in his own life to prove, to himself and everyone else, that he is ferocious and powerful, and in his relationship with Nwoye, who has neither of those qualities, he is scornful, abusive, and embarrassed.

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Things Fall Apart

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