Although it is clear that Okonkwo is a character with several failings, it is also self-evident that he possesses considerable strengths within himself. He can be said to represent the determination and ethic of hard work in his culture through the way that he works himself up in his tribe from a young man who has nothing and has to provide for his ailing, lazy father and mother and sisters to becoming a respected and wealthy member of the tribe. This is something that is established early on in the book when Okonkwo goes to Nwakibie to ask for a loan of yam seeds in order to help make a start in life, as Nwakibie's speech to Okonkwo reveals:
It pleases me to see a young man like you these days when our youth have gone so soft... I can trust you. I know it as I look at you.
Okonkwo's character is therefore defined by his hard work and pure determination to succeed and provide for himself by his own efforts, and also his strength, intelligence and skill in wrestling. He possesses the self-reliance and strong work ethic that is such an essential part of his culture and tribe. In rejecting his father's example and determining to make a life and a name for himself through his hard work, Okonkwo captures some of the overwhelmingly positive cultural traits of his tribe.