In "Things Fall Apart," to what extent does Achebe encourage the reader to sympathize with Okonkwo?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Achebe includes the background of Okonkwo, which in turn helps the audience to understand and sympathize with him. Okonkwo's father was considered lazy and died without any honors. Everyone was aware of his father's poor reputation and Okonkwo grows up determined that he will not turn out like his father. He turns to the traditional values of the Igbo people for support and those stress male dominance and bravery. Thus, Okonkwo seems to be a super-Igbo. He is a successful farmer, a domineering husband, and recipient of many tribal honors. He kills Ikumafuna because he is afraid of being seen a cowardly. This fear of failure all stems from his father's failure to be seen "as a man". However, Okwonko's focus on traditions become so rigid, he cannot seem to deal with change. Thus, he has a difficult, almost impossible time adapting to changes that occur in his village. In his mind, all should remain the same as it always has been. What he cannot seem to reconcile is the fact that things in life are always changing and he must learn to adapt if he is to survive.

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Things Fall Apart

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