Illustration of a person holding their head next to a noose and a detached head

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
Start Free Trial

What man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia? How far do you agree with this view of Okonkwo?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Okonkwo is one of Umuofia's greatest men. He possesses titles, leads warriors into battle, marries several wives, and is known for his success in the area of farming. Okonkwo rapidly climbs the social ladder after winning an arduous wrestling match against a man known as the Cat, and he earns respect throughout the village because of his tireless work ethic and aggressive disposition. Okonkwo is even chosen as one of Umuofia's egwugwu and serves as a judge for his community. His achievements on the battlefield have won tribal wars for Umuofia, and his neighbors admire him for his valor. Unfortunately, Okonkwo possesses a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. His fear of weakness and failure makes him a callous, obstinate man. Okonkwo makes several costly decisions because of his impulsive personality and is eventually exiled from his community for seven years. After returning to Umuofia, Okonkwo no longer holds his titles and rashly murders a court messenger. What makes Okonkwo such a tragic figure is his fall from greatness. Okonkwo was once a respected figure throughout his community but dies as a pariah. Obierika tells the District Commissioner at the end of the novel,

"That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself and now he will be buried like a dog" (Achebe, 73).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team