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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
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What did Okonkwo name the two children he had that were born in Mbanta?

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Okonkwo makes some very interesting choices when it comes time for him to name the two children he sires in his time in exile in Mbanta. First, it is important to note that Mbanta is his mother's homeland, and Okonkwo detests his time in exile away from Umuofia. He resents...

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Okonkwo makes some very interesting choices when it comes time for him to name the two children he sires in his time in exile in Mbanta. First, it is important to note that Mbanta is his mother's homeland, and Okonkwo detests his time in exile away from Umuofia. He resents the "feminine" values he witnesses displayed in Mbanta, and longs to be back in the "masculine" society of Umuofia. Therefore, it is strange that he names the first child born in exile Nneka. Nneka means "Mother is Supreme," and Okonkwo assigns this name to the child "out of politeness to his mother's kinsmen" (162). This choice of a name seems incredibly unusual for a brutal warrior like Okonkwo who places a high value on violence and masculinity. Indeed, it is acknowledged that he chooses this name merely to be polite. However, the second child's name better reflects Okonkwo's true feelings toward Mbanta:

"But two years later when a son was born he called him Nwofia--'Begotten in the Wilderness'" (162).

Achebe juxtaposes the disparate meanings of Nneka and Nwofia in order to show how Okonkwo's patience grows thinner as his exile persists.

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