How does Achebe's use of conflict reveal Okonkwo as a tragic hero?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Things Fall Apart, the author portrays Okonkwo as a tragic hero. Okonkwo is a strong, masculine hero who loses control in the face of conflict. The author presents Okonkwo as a leader who cannot handle change:

Critics appreciate Achebe's development of the conflict that arises when tradition clashes with change. He uses his characters and their unique language to portray the double tragedies that occur in the story. Readers identify not only with Okonkwo and his personal hardships but also with the Ibo culture and its disintegration.

By the end of the story, Okonkwo fears that his village is changing for the worse. He cannot get his clan to go to war against the white man who has invaded his village.

Although Okonkwo had been a powerful leader in his clan, he loses control in the end. He hangs himself out of fear. Okonkwo cannot deal with the change that has occurred in his village. He cannot face the conflict of losing control. He would rather die than to face the changes occurring in his village.

In the end, Okonkwo becomes a tragic hero. His fear causes him to give up. He cannot fight the white man alone. Feeling utterly hopeless, Okonkwo takes his own life. In the face of conflict, Okonkwo gives in to his fears. Truly, Okonkwo wrestled with fear. First, he feared being like his lazy father. Then, he feared losing control of his social standing. Fear dominated his tragic life until he ended it.


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Things Fall Apart

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