When analyzing wrestling in the novel, we can look at two distinct questions. How does Things Fall Apart use wrestling as a means of exposition (to establish character)? And what significance does wrestling have for the Ibo people?
In the culture of the Ibo, the wrestling matches connect to ideas of prowess for the individual and to pride and honor for the individual and the village.
"As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat."
Across the novel, the idea is established that reputation and respect can be earned by doing anything well. Wrestling, for the village, is a special activity, however, because it involves contests against other villages. Inter-village status is at stake in the wrestling matches, weighting these events with special meaning.
Significantly, Okonkwo 's greatest wrestling feat is used to introduce him in the opening passage of the novel. A very physical man,...
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