Please name and describe the important characters in Things Fall Apart.

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is one of the main characters who lives in the tribe known as Umuofia. He is a strong man who wins fame for his wrestling prowess. Okonkwo works hard. He has accomplished so much. He has two barns overflowing with yams. This indicates that he is a wealthy man.

Also, Okonkwo has three wives and many children. In his village, it is an honor to have many wives and children. To keep his family in line, Okonkwo uses his fists to beat his family. He is an overly strict father and husband. 

Honorably, Okonkwo has achieved two titles. No doubt, Okonkwo is a skilled warrior with many human skulls as proof of his military strength. Likewise, Okonkwo has been named as one of the leaders on the government counsel in his village.  

Okonkwo is driven to be a great achiever by his constant fear of resembling his father. Truly, Unoka is a despised father. Okonkwo has no respect for his lazy father who never worked. Unoka borrowed money from so many of his neighbors and never paid them back. While drinking palm wine, Unoka sat around playing his flute all day. He was a squeamish man and could not stand the sight of blood; therefore, he did not approve of war. The village children embarrassed Okonkwo by calling his father Unoka womanly. Truly, Okonkwo suffered the shame of being the son of such a worthless father.

While Okonkwo strives to be much more competent than his father ever was, Okonkwo worries about his young son Nwoye. Nwoye is a sensitive young man. He is nothing like his father Okonkwo. Okonkwo is worried that Nwoye will grow up to resemble his grandfather Unoka. Truly, Nwoye does much prefer to be closer to his mother than his father:

Nwoye knows that he should enjoy the masculine rites of his fellow tribesmen, but he prefers his mother's company and the stories she tells.

Also, Nwoye is disturbed by some of his tribe's customs and traditions. He does not understand why twins are thrown into the evil forest to die. This is a strange custom in Nwoye's eyes:

He questions and is disturbed by many of the tribe's customs. Okonkwo beats and nags Nwoye, making Nwoye more unhappy and further distancing him from the ways of the clan.

Truly, Okonkwo is not proud of his son Nwoye, but Okonkwo is extremely close to Ikemefuna. Okonkwo respects Ikemefuna. Ikemefuna is a young lad who came to live with Okonkwo. When a neighboring tribe killed a daughter of Umuofia, the neighboring tribe had to sacrifice a young lad and a young virgin girl. Ikemefuna is the young lad that had to be sacrificed. He left his home to come and live with Okonkwo.

From the beginning, Ikemefuna fills the void in Okonkwo's life that Okonkwo's own son cannot.

After three years, the Oracle of the Hills has requested that Ikemefuna be killed and sacrificed. By this time, Okonkwo has come to truly love Ikemefuna. He considered Ikemefuna the son he had always wanted. During the three years that Ikemefuna lived with Okonkwo, he taught Nwoye how to be manly and Okonkwo truly appreciated this:

Okonkwo appreciates Ikemefuna for the example he sets for Nwoye.

The above characters are examples of the men who lived in Okonkwo's tribe. Each character is a unique individual who has grown up in the tribe known as Umuofia. Although each character has been exposed to similar traditions and customs, each distinct character has his own personality which sets him apart from all the others in Umuofia.