What role does weather play in the Things Fall Apart?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Things Fall Apart, Unoka, Okonkwo's father, loves the weather and the changing of the seasons because he is an artist, not a farmer.  Okonkwo, though, wrestles with the weather like he wrestles "The Cat" and fights his wives and the white men.

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Unoka loved the good fare and the good fellowship, and he loved this season of the year, when the rains had stopped and the sun rose every morning with dazzling beauty. And it was not too hot either, because the cold and dry harmattan wind was blowing down from the north.

The repeated imagery of the west wind, the harmattan, in the first half of the book foreshadows the coming of the Westerners in the second half of the book.  Okonkwo struggles to grow yams to make up for his father's debt and to provide for his family and tribe.  Yams are difficult to cultivate, and the weather of West Africa makes matters worse.  But, Okonkwo is a better farmer than he is a husband, father, and leader of men.  He finds a kind of balance in nature.  So says Enotes:

As a farmer, he readily accepts the unpredictability of the weather, thus affecting his crops, but he cannot accept the unpredictability of human nature, whether it is his son or the British colonial officials.  Rage erupts when he is crossed.

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Things Fall Apart

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