How are free will and predetermination conveyed in Chapters 3-6 of Things Fall Apart?

Expert Answers
readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What might help is some background information on freewill and predetermination.

Here are three positions:

1. Freewill overrides predetermination and therefore predetermination does not exist.

2. Predetermination overrides freewill and therefore freewill does not exist.

3. They both are truth, but we are not able to understand how they work together, because these thoughts are higher than our finite minds can understand. Perhaps, one day we will understand.

Another way to look at is:

1. There are such things as contradictions, which cannot be true.

2. There are paradoxes, which seem like contradictions on the surface, but reflection will give insight.

3. Finally, there are antinomies, which are true when seen apart, but seem contradictory when put together. Perhaps, the discussion on freewill and predetermination fits into this category.

archteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you want to examine free will and predermination in the text, you need to ask yourself two basic questions:

At what points do I see Okonkwo exhibit free will (the ability to affect his circumstances through his own decisions and actions)?  At what points is Okonkwo able to acheive something through his own efforts?  At what points is he able to rise above his background/circumstances/difficulties because he tries to?

At what points to I see Okonkwo succeed or fail because of forces bigger than himself (forces like nature, the gods, fate, etc.)?  If Okonkwo's fate is predetermined, it has already been decided by forces that are out of his control.

A really great starting point in the text would be Okonkwo's faming career.  How much of his success/failure is related to his own efforts?  How much is related to things that he cannot control?