What are some quotations that support the downfall of Okonkwo in the novel Things Fall Apart?
Okonkwo grows up to become a brave warrior who is known throughout Umuofia as a violent, but successful man. Okonkwo's drive to be successful comes from his determination to not follow in his father's footsteps. Achebe describes his personality by writing,
"And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion – to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness" (13).
Okonkwo's fear of becoming gentle and his determination to be viewed as manly leads him to make several rash decisions which result in his downfall.
In Chapter 13, Okonkwo accidentally kills Ezeudu's sixteen-year-old son during a ceremony. Achebe writes,
"And then from the center of the delirious fury came a cry of agony and shouts of horror. It was as if a spell had been cast. All was silent. In the center of the crowd a boy lay in a pool of blood. It was the dead man's sixteen-year-old son, who with his brothers and had been dancing the traditional farewell to their father. Okonkwo's gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boy's heart" (124).
After killing Ikemefuna, Okonkwo's misfortune continues, and he is exiled from the village of Umuofia for seven years. Okonkwo's dream of attaining titles as a village leader is shattered by his offense against the earth goddess.
In Chapter 24, Achebe describes Okonkwo's thoughts about Umuofia's decision to deal with the white men. Achebe writes,
"If Umuofia decides on war, all would be well. But if they chose to be cowards he would go out and avenge himself" (199).
When the white messengers arrive and tell the villagers to disband their meeting, Okonkwo takes matters into his own hands. Achebe writes,
"In a flash Okonkwo drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless. Okonkwo's machete descended twice and the man's head lay beside his uniformed body" (204).
Okonkwo's bitterness and anger towards the white men, coupled with his inability to control his emotions, cause him to make the fateful decision to kill the messenger. Murdering the messenger is the final act which leads to his eventual suicide.