In regards to the novel Things Fall Apart, do you agree with the following statement? "The obsession with with proving and preserving his manliness dominates Okonkwo's public and private life."

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, I agree with this statement. Okonkwo's obsession with being masculine negatively affects both his public and private life. Okonkwo is known and respected throughout his village for being the best wrestler and becomes one of the village leaders at a relatively young age. However, Okonkwo's masculinity often times alienates him from the other villagers. When Okonkwo calls Osugo a woman because he has no titles, he is chastised by the other elders. Okonkwo also wishes to fight against the white men when his tribe chooses to maintain an amiable relationship. Okonkwo's obsession with being viewed as masculine at all times negatively affects his relationship with his family. Okonkwo rejects Nwoye because he is not an athlete or fighter, and refuses to express his love towards Ezinma or Ikemefuna. Okonkwo also chooses to kill Ikemefuna because he does not want to be viewed as weak or feminine. Okonkwo's masculine approach to life results in an unhealthy relationship with his children and alienates him from the rest of his tribe.

aly-pod | Student

I would agree with this statement. Okonkwo's  masculinity is the defining aspect of his character. His son's "failure" to demonstrate his overt masculinity drives Nwoye and Okonkwo apart-- thus, his obsession with masculinity has great effect on his private life. Publicly, Okonkwo's need to be seen as masculine leads him to kill Ikemefuma, an action which also affects his reputation among his peers.