Define Okonkwo’s crimes and their impact on him and the Community. What is the purpose of Part 1?

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Okonkwo is depicted as an extremely aggressive, callous man, who desperately fears becoming like his father or being viewed as feminine or weak. In order to develop a masculine, intimidating reputation, Okonkwo overcompensates and becomes a violent, cruel warrior.

Okonkwo's first offense takes place in chapter 4, when he disrupts the Week of Peace by brutally beating his youngest wife. Okonkwo's actions offend the village elders as well as the earth goddess. He is forced to make a sacrifice to Ani to atone for his sins. Despite making a sacrifice, Okonkwo is not affected by his crime and believes that he was right for beating his wife.

Okonkwo's second crime takes place in chapter 7, when he disobeys the oracle's instructions regarding his participation in Ikemefuna's death. Okonkwo becomes severely depressed and guilt-ridden after murdering Ikemefuna and refuses to eat for several days. When Obierika visits his obi, the obi rebukes Okonkwo for participating in Ikemefuna's death. He says,

If I were you I would have stayed at home. What you have done will not please the Earth. It is the kind of action for which the goddess wipes out whole families.

Okonkwo is not directly punished for killing Ikemefuna but his actions completely ruin his relationship with Nwoye.

Okonkwo's third crime takes place in chapter 13 and results in his exile. During Ezeudu's chaotic funeral, Okonkwo's gun accidentally goes off, killing the dead man's sixteen-year-old son. Okonkwo's crime is considered a female transgression, which offends the earth goddess and results in his seven-year exile. Okonkwo also loses his titles and is forced to relocate his family to his mother's homeland of Mbanta. The incident devestates him and never fully regains his former prowess and reputation once he is exiled from Umuofia.

Overall, Part One helps establish Okonkwo's character, provides the reader with significant insight into the rich Igbo culture, and portrays life in Umuofia before the introduction of white Europeans.

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