Discuss the theme of conflict in chapter one of Things Fall Apart.

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first chapter of Things Fall Apart, the reader is introduced to Okonkwo and Okonkwo's father Unoka. Okonkwo is known as a great wrestler and a very successful man by all the traditional Igbo measures, he has three wives, barns full of yams, and has been a noted warrior in two conflicts between clans.

This is in stark contrast to his father, Unoka, who loves only to play his flute and live well whenever he can borrow money from someone else. While Okonkwo is seen as manly and successful, Unoka is labeled feminine and a complete failure. This sets up one of the central conflicts in the story, which involves Okonkwo fighting against the legacy of his father and trying desperately to prove that he is nothing like him.

There is a second related conflict that is also revealed with the introduction and description of Okoye. He also plays a musical instrument, but has been successful in a material way and manages to build an appropriate balance of the masculine and feminine values of Igbo culture. This is something that Okonkwo will never be able to do, something that will also lead to his failure and death at the end of the story.