In Things Fall Apart, three attributes of Okonkwo are ambition, pride, and dissatisfaction. Three attributes of Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, are carelessness, creativity, and passivity.
Okonkwo’s desire to differentiate himself from his father is a key element of his ambition. Because Unoka has not fully applied himself to making his farmland successful, Okonkwo grew up in the shadow of his father’s relatively low status in the community. His pride seems to be an inborn characteristic, which greatly contributed to the formation of his ambition to succeed. Although Okonkwo worked very hard to achieve everything he has, the legacy of his childhood shame is his inability to be satisfied with those accomplishments.
The marked contrast between father and son is shown through references to Unoka’s past failures and his current difficulties, which persist even after his death. Neither his laid-back attitude nor his creative temperament have been helpful in farming. Although his music and storytelling are often a source of entertainment for his fellow villagers, his easygoing ways do not earn him respect or prestige. It is believed that his temperament indicates a lack of control over his chi, a condition that renders him ill-fated and led to his contracting a fatal condition that precluded his burial in sacred space.