Discuss the concept of black pride with close reference to part one of Things Fall Apart.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure what black pride is, or--at least--how it's different from white pride later in the novel.  But, I can talk about male pride in part I of Things Fall Apart.

Okonkwo has an overdeveloped sense of male pride because of his father's legacy as an untitled agbala (titleless male).  The tribal Igbo society is set up to glorify the male through physicality (wrestling and war) and status (accumulation of cowries, yams, heads, obis, wives, sons and--most importantly--titles).  Okonkwo has worked very hard to live down his father's debt; he has three wives, four obis, five heads, two titles, and one male son of focus (Nwoye).  Yet, he still lives with the fear of seeming like his father.  His father was a kind of female: he had not titles; he incurred debt; he loved the arts (music, stories); and he hated farming yams (the manly crop).  Worse, Okonkwo sees his son Nwoye turning into his father and his adopted son Ekemefuna overshadowing him and--as an outsider---threatening the patriarchal structure.

Okonkwo only wants to work: he hates the Week of Peace and the other festivals that prohibit working his yam fields.  Also, these festivals are organized by women (they prepare food), while the men sit around and talk and dance and worship.  All this seems weak to Okonwkwo who, since he threw the Cat and collected five heads during war, has not taken to domestic life well.  He is an uber-masculine warrior who impatiently wants what he wants when he wants it.  If he doesn't get it, he impulsively beats his wives or son.  In fact, he almost shoots his wife during the Week of Peace because he unconsciously seeks war instead of peace, strength instead of weakness, sex instead of abstinence, violence instead of reason, male pride instead of feminine passivity.

Tribal life in Nigeria is engineered for survival.  Yams are had to grow.  Children have difficulty surviving past infancy.  The strongest males must mate with many of the strongest females to ensure survival of the strongest offspring.  Outsiders are a threat.  All this is to say that Okonkwo sees his tribe moving away from their warring days of glory.  He sees them becoming domesticated and weak, and this unnerves him to no end.  Even before the colonists show up in parts II and III, Okonkwo feels the pulse of his people weakening in part I, and he has not the words to express it.  Instead, he lashes out in angry, unadulterated male pride.