How do the scenes of violence throughout the novel contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole?
Violence is a part of life among the Ibo people. Men are admired if they bring home a human head from war. Okonkwo is a celebrated warrior and a greatly respected man with several titles because he is a violent man. To be violent is to be masculine. This is illustrated in Chapter 7. Okonkwo’s son Nwoye is sensitive, and loves the stories his mother tells, but “he knew that his father wanted him to be a man. And so he feigned that he no longer cared for women’s stories. And when he did this he saw that his father was pleased” (Chapter 7). Okonkwo is often violent. He is violent towards his wives and children if they disobey him, he is not afraid of war, and he believes that violent action can solve a problem. When the white men come and try to change things, Okonkwo believes that violence is the answer, but the culture has changed so much by that point that Okonkwo’s violent reaction is his downfall. Okonkwo’s reaction is that of the old culture, and the new culture is more accepting and less decisive about what to do. The death of Okonkwo is symbolic of the death of the culture – he stands for the old ways, and they have changed and died.