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The Man Behind the Mask (Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe)

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Michela Iriti October, 11th 2004 English 10x The Man Behind the Mask The aspects of similarity and difference to today's world, in the novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, are fascinating to observe; the cultural beliefs and pressures of a society are very much like today's media's effect on many teenagers and young girls. The story is a journey through the life of a man whose influential past causes him to struggle in building his own future. Okonkwo's father affects his current life and causes him to struggle with certain issues in many ways, for instance Okonkwo tries to be the exact opposite of his father, personality wise and Okonkwo's main solution to this is violence, mostly towards his family. However, Okonkwo's culture helps shape his personality as well. Yet the ending to his life is not as fulfilling as he had hoped for. Achebe's message or lesson is for every person to create their own future and not let past experiences hold them down. ...read more.


As an attempt to detach himself from his father's name. "Okonkwo never [shows] any emotion openly, unless it [is] the emotion of anger." (28) This anger gets taken out on Okonkwo's wives and children in the form of violence. Okonkwo associates women with weakness. He observed as a child how light his father was with crucial issues involving his mother and sisters. Therefor Okonkwo's wives' rather small mistakes come with heavy consequences, he physically abuses them. After one of his wives makes the small mistake of coming home late one day "He [presses] the trigger-he [throws] down the gun and [jumps] into the barn, and there lay the woman very much shaken but quiet unhurt" (39) Going as far as trying to kill his wife makes it clear to see that he lets his violence and rage squelch over his loving emotions. Not only is Okonkwo's physical aggression reflected on his wives but also on his children, innocent as can be, " Without further argument Okonkwo gave her a sound beating and left her and her only daughter weeping" ( 38) ...read more.


Not only does he die with no positive recognition, he leaves his family alone much like Okonkwo's father left him. Also, when the missionaries hold Okonkwo captive, they beat and torture him, he is at complete mercy of others; this going forcefully against everything he stands for. This loss of control infuriates him more than the actual abuse. The village people "[notice] the long stripes ok Okonwko's back where the warden's whip [has] cut into his flesh." (199) this was a major sign of defeat. His main hamartia is his strong impulsive need to be the ideal man; unemotional, impressively physically powerful, with a strong pride and high title. Even though Okonkwo dies a dishonorable death, he leaves many of the town's members with optimism of what can be done when people join together as a community. "It [warms] Okonkwo's heart to see such strength of numbers." (201) He has faith in this concept. A lesson which can be taken away from the story is the importance of individuality and not giving into stereotypes or generalizations which only tear communities apart. ...read more.

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