How do Okonkwo's feelings conflict with the culture of his community?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okonkwo is a man who cannot rest or enjoy leisure. He insists that his wives and children work as hard as he does and as often. Okonkwo has a conflict with his clan's cultural traditions. The clan believes in taking some time off from work during the Week of Peace and the Yam festival. During these holidays, Okonkwo is restless. He is irritable because he is required to stop working during this Week of Peace.

Okonkwo has trouble with certain cultural traditions. He believes it is effeminate to rest during the Week of Peace or during any other traditional holidays. Okonkwo finds himself moody and fretting during the Week of Peace. He cannot rest even for a moment.

During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo breaks traditions and beats his wife. He accuses her of killing a banana tree. Now, the gods are angry with Okonkwo for disturbing the Week of Peace. He breaks tradition because he is restless from not working. Okonkwo does not keep peace during the Week of Peace. Okonkwo now has to face punishment from the gods.

Truly, Okonkwo can not be happy unless he is working every moment. He is conditioned by the fact that his fahter was a lazy man who never worked. His father sat around playing the flute all the time. Okonkwo has a problem with his clan's cultural traditions. He is a rebel at heart. He is afraid of being thought of as weak. Therefore, he resists keeping the traditions of rest, relaxation and peace.

Read the study guide:
Things Fall Apart

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