Things Fall Apart Unoka
by Chinua Achebe

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Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, is a gentle and idle man that is fond of playing music. A foil to Okonkwo, Unoka is not a successful or respected man. He plays music well and is able to weave and tell creative folktales. This is in direct contrast to Okonkwo’s rejection of music and insistence on only telling cold and gory war stories. Unoka’s draw to music and storytelling highlight his sensitive and creative nature that Okonkwo so despises.

The beginning of Things Fall Apart shows Unoka interacting with a debtor, who refuses to break a kola nut with him. The refusal to break the kola nut means that the debtor has no respect for Unoka despite his old age, which generally garners respect in Igbo society. Furthermore, Unoka’s tendency to beg for money from the people of the village demonstrates his lack of riches. The clan respects wealth, but as Unoka has none and is in debt, the clan disrespects him. Unoka was never very good at keeping a farm or caring for his children and wives, either; Okonkwo ends up doing this work for him from a young age, which only increases Okonkwo’s resentment towards his careless father.

Although Unoka lacks the respect of his clan, his nature shows he is happier than Okonkwo, who is dogged by a fear of never being good enough. Unoka shows no fear or worry, and lives gently and kindly. If it were not for Unoka’s complete lack of “manliness” within the story, Okonkwo would not have been as driven to differentiate himself from his father, who was often called agbala (meaning “woman”) by the clansmen.

Unoka, unlike Okonkwo, had little control over his chi, or his personal god. Because he is unable to shape or control his chi, Unoka is...

(The entire section is 446 words.)