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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Student Question

Why was Okonkwo not passionate about farming in Things Fall Apart?

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In the early chapters of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo largely moves beyond his preoccupation with his youthful successes, such as in wrestling, and his self-identification as a warrior. He understands that success as a farmer is the underpinning of his status in Igbo society. Temperamentally, however, Okonkwo is ill-suited to farming, as he lacks patience. Although his first year as a yam farmer does not end well, he renews his efforts and has a better second year, as well as trying to teach farming skills to his son Nwoye. After Okonkwo is exiled, he cannot muster any enthusiasm for re-establishing himself as a farmer back in his motherland. Although his kinsmen try to help him, he drags his heels. His passion had been focused on leadership within his clan; farming had been a means to an end.

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