How does Okonkwo differ from Western heroes with whom you are more familiar?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are asking about Okonkwo, he differs in many ways from the conventional Western hero. He is a difficult person to like. He is insecure because of his father's failures; he beats his wives; he is focused solely on raising a large crop of yams and buying titles for himself so he can increase his status among his tribe. His also plays favorites with his children, ignoring his son Nwoye because he reminds Okonkwo of his own father. Instead, he focuses most of his attention of his daughter and a captive boy, Ikemefuna, from another village. After showing obvious love for Ikemefuna, Okonkwo ends up killing the boy so that he won't be thought of as a coward. However, Okonkwo is not the first flawed hero to appear in literature, Western or not. Many Greek heros, including Oedipus and many of the Greek gods, were characters who had major flaws.This tradition continues through all of Western literature, including Hamlet, King Lear up through the 20th century including characters created by Ernest Hemingway ( Frederick Henry) and John Steinbeck( Tom Joad). Even today, most "heroes" are conflicted characters. That's what makes them interesting. 

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Things Fall Apart

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