Power and oppression is a significant theme in Things Fall Apart. In Umuofia, a man should perform the extraordinary to gain respect. The protagonist, Okonkwo, is a paragon of power. At the beginning of the novel, Okonkwo throws Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling match. After that, his fame grew like a bush-fire in harmattan. Also, Okonkwo’s physical appearance portrays authority. “He was tall and huge, and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose gave him a very severe look. He breathed heavily, and it was said that, when he slept, his wives and children in their houses could hear him breathe.” Okonkwo is motivated by the fear of failure. This fear has made him one of the most successful farmers in Umuofia. Besides, Okonkwo has won different titles, unlike his lazy father, Unoka.
In the traditional Igbo culture, a man should assume full control of his household. As such, Okonkwo rules his family with a heavy hand. His wives (especially the youngest) live in perpetual fear of his wrath. In the society portrayed by Things Fall Apart, it is justified for a man to beat his wife, provided it is not during the Week of Peace.
Another example of power and oppression is seen in the relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye . Nwoye is Okonkwo’s eldest son; he is deemed inactive and his behavior feminine. He is constantly beaten by Okonkwo, who seeks to correct him: “He wanted Nwoye to grow into a...
tough young man capable of ruling his father's household when he was dead and gone to join the ancestors.”