“Fearless, fearsome, fearful”. To what extent do these words describe Okonkwo?Main points for okonkwo being fearsome and fearless

Expert Answers
slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fearless: Achebe characterizes Okonkwo as fearless through his status as the most revered wrestler in all Umuofia, as well as his being known as a great warrior. These statuses do not come to a man who fears. Okonkwo has proven himself over and over again to be fearless. It is the force driving him to succeed. To show fear is to be weak, or so Okonkwo thinks, and he lives his life trying to show no fear.

Fearsome: Okonkwo is also fearsome in that fact that many people fear him. Nwoye, his eldest son, fears the man he must call father. Okonkwo has conditioned Nwoye and his other children to fear him through his violent ways of dealing out discipline to his family. This would also extend to his wives; they fear his anger and retribution.

Fearful: In the end, Achebe created Okonkwo as the ultimate paradox. A man without fear, feared by others, yet full of fear himself. The only thing that Okonkwo fears is being seen as weak. This fear stems from seeing how his father lived his life and died, shunned by the community. Okonkwo’s greatest fear is for others to see him as an extension of his father, weak and womanly. His every decision is driven by this fear.