In Things Fall Apart, what does Okonkwo's death mean?  

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okonkwo's death was sad but not unexpected. He has lived his entire life trying to live up to his culture's ideals of masculinity. His father had been such a failure at living up to traditional Ibo values, that Okonkwo's entire life's focus has been to be someone that his father could not be. This focus has made him totally inflexible because all he can see is a goal that he has allowed society to set for him. When that society begins to change, Okonkwo cannot change with it. He grasps on to the old values and his rigidity causes things in in life "to fall apart". If he had examined who was setting the goals for his life and decided upon his own goals instead of someone else's traditional notions, he probably could have adjusted and survived. But since his entire life revolved around living up to someone's else's idea of who was a man, he was bound to fail when those ideas began to change.

slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okonkwo's death is symbolic of the death of a culture. He stands for the old ways of the culture: he follows their philosophies and holds their belief system. His values of manliness and bravery are the values of the Ibo people. He also has great respect for the gods and the Ibo religion, and plays a role in this religion as one of the elders. When the white men come with their new religion and new ways of doing things, the culture begins to change. Okonkwo acts according to the old ways and reacts with violence. He cannot change with the times, cannot adapt to what is happening to the Ibo. So he dies, and with him dies one of the last great men of the old ways -- he is the epitome of the Ibo people, and his death symbolizes the end of the Ibo as they were. 

goreadabook eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okonkwo's death symbolizes the death of the entire Ibo culture as he knew it.  The Europeans moved in and destroyed the dynamics of the Ibo tribe and Okonkwo fought to preserve what was left until he ran out of options.  The lack of appreciation and respect for diversity aided in dismantling an entire culture and Okonkwo couldn't bear to watch his life and values be stripped away before his eyes.  His death is symbolic of the damage that prejudice and disrespect for individual freedoms and beliefs can have upon society and the world.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with other editors in suggesting that Okonkwo's death is symbolic both externally and internally, if I can use these distinctions. Firstly, it represents the death of his own high standards of masculinity and the failure he experiences in trying to live out these standards. Secondly, it points towards the irrevocable death of the Ibo culture as we know it. The Ibo tribe has passed the point of no return and we as readers have witnessed the end of an era. Now nothing will ever be the same again.

porashuna | Student

okonko was notreligious as he breaks rulse in peace week ...and there is a sentce like that he does not even fear the god

In reply to #3:

bborst127 | Student

Okonkwo's death is the type of lesson that real heroic characters have to go through.  Although I am a man, I am a staunch feminist and Okonkwo's attitudes toward women are absolutely repulsive.  However, real heroes are never perfect beings.  Its an old story in both life and literature.  Nevertheless, his death and downfall encapsulate the book's title perfectly.  This world and life itself is much more powerful than any individual and if you combat it/them failure is inevitable, especially for those with strong morals an d convictions.  Okonkwo was not defeated by his fellow tribe members nor the europeans.  In fact he won one of, if not the most important battle any man/woman can win.  That is the battle for ones soul.  He took his own life, he didnt let 'them' win.   

nabila25 | Student

okonkow's death means the end of ibo culture.he has a great roles in his clan because he was a brave man,one of the elders religion's men .

epollock | Student

His death means the end of the Ibo tribe in the same way that Beowulf's death led to the end of the Geats in Sweden. His death has a more lasting and dramatic impression towards the end of the story. Then one can see Western imperial forces move in to destroy what is left of the tribe.

bocateacher322 | Student

When Okonkwo dies, the people of Umuofia are afraid. When the Mother of Spirits roams the villages, weeping for her son's death, it seems that she is weeping for the death of the clan. Mr. Smith hears it, and for the first time feels fear. The people of Umuofia are being destroyed. Yet again, the response of the clan is something of a compromise. In spite of the grave offense that has been committed, they kill no one. They will not harm the people, but they could no longer allow the church to work its evil among the Igbo. They simply decide to remove the source of the problem. Their response to the problem is that they will destroy the building. The egwugwu approach the church and they destroy the building.