Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Nwoye

Extended Character Analysis

Nwoye is the son of Okonkwo’s first wife. Within the family hierarchy, this positions Nwoye as the highest ranking and eldest son. Nwoye, like Unoka, serves as a foil to Okonkwo’s character. Nwoye often does not exhibit the supposedly manly qualities that his father values. Instead he shares similarities with the kinder, gentler Unoka. He is sensitive, troubled by some Umuofian practices, and is drawn to music, hope, and the poetry of the new religion, Christianity.

As a young boy, Nwoye is frequently a target for Okonkwo's harsh criticism. He tries to please his father but often fails. His behavior and his interests, which Okonkwo considers feminine, remind Okonkwo of his own father. Nwoye, then, represents Okonkwo’s failings as a father. This bothers Okonkwo, and he tries to teach Nwoye and Ikemefuna about yams, which are a symbol for manliness, prestige, and respect. When Nwoye does not quickly understand how to farm yams, Okonkwo becomes frustrated and disappointed in Nwoye. He lashes out at Nwoye verbally, even while understanding how difficult it is to farm yams.

Nwoye also exemplifies the familial aspect of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. In contrast to Okonkwo, Nwoye creates bonds with his family, especially with Ikemefuna. Nwoye also prefers his mother’s folktales to Okonkwo’s violent war stories. Although Nwoye is negatively affected by Okonkwo’s...

(The entire section is 470 words.)