What conflicts can be seen in chapter one of Things Fall Apart?

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two major conflicts that are introduced in the first chapter. The first major conflict, is the conflict that drives Okonkwo throughout the whole novel, namely the fear of being like his father. Unoka is seen by the tribe, and particularly by his son, as feminine, weak and lazy. Okonkwo is desperate to escape the same fate as his father. Unoka owes huge amounts of cowries to men all over town and seems unconcerned about it, he is happy just to play his flute and enjoy what he can. This drives Okonkwo to fight for titles, become a great wrestler and to fight against weakness and laziness his entire life.

The second conflict is between the feminine and the masculine in Igbo culture. Okoye is seen as a man who has achieved the balance between masculine and feminine. He has titles and is greatly respected in the tribe, but he also knows when to have mercy and when to enjoy the fruits of his labors. Throughout the novel, it will become apparent that Okonkwo is unable to find this balance as he is so bent on appearing and acting masculine that he is unable to ever compromise or heed advice or even enjoy the great prosperity he builds for himself and his family.