Things Fall Apart Questions and Answers
by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does Unoka affect different characters in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe?

Expert Answers info

dashing-danny-dillinger eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write186 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Despite the fact that Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, has a relatively minor role in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, he has a considerable impact on the novel. Obviously, Unoka deeply affects his son Okonkwo, as Okonkwo devotes his entire life to being the stark opposite of his father. Unoka was a lazy individual who amassed a tremendous amount of debt and put his entire family into a disadvantaged, marginalized position. Thus, Okonkwo throws himself into attaining titles and achieving success:

“With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had.... But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father's lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father's contemptible life and shameful death” (18).

Unoka also indirectly affects Okonkwo’s son Nwoye. Okonkwo perceives his son’s disposition as similar to his ill-fated father, and he strives to beat his son to instill his own manly qualities upon Nwoye. He is especially hard on Nwoye because he can see Unoka’s qualities in him. Indeed, when Nwoye rebukes his father and joins the Christian church, Okonkwo compares Nwoye to Unoka:

“But Nwoye resembled his grandfather, Unoka, who was Okonkwo's father. He pushed the thought out of his mind. How could he have begotten a woman for a son? At Nwoye's age Okonkwo had already become famous throughout Umuofia for his wrestling and his fearlessness” (153).

These are the two characters Unoka affects the most.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial