In society, many people, if not all, have had their share in downfall. Accomplishments have to be made first in order to fall. An individual can accomplish so much, and then lose it all in a heartbeat. In the novel, Things Fall Apart, there is a character by the name of Okonkwo who had accomplished many things in his life. What happens when things turn bad? Does an individual contribute to things going wrong? As mentioned, Okonkwo has many accomplishments.
He is considered a hero in his village, Umuofia. Umuofia was feared by all its neighbors. It was powerful in war and in magic. Its priest and medicine men were feared by all its surrounding countries” (11). Umuofia is the village that Okonkwo lives in.
Umuofia is really powerful and is feared by all its neighbors. Okonkwo is considered a hero because of his qualities and skills. “Let us not be cowards. If a man comes into my hut, and defecates on the floor, what do I do? Do I shut my eyes? No! I take a stick, and I break his head. That’s what a man does.
”(158-159) okonkwo shows the qualities of a leader.The quote tells how he takes action when he is not I agreement with a situation. Okonkwo could have laid back, and said nothing, but instead, he takes action. Just because the Christians want things to take place in a certain order in the land, doesn’t mean that Okonkwo is going to sit back and suffice.
Okonkwo stands up and makes his feelings known. These are the characteristics of a man with courage and leadership. Okonkwo works very hard for what he has. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, did not make a good living, and didn’t leave a fortune for Okonkwo. With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn or a title, nor even a young wife.
But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed” (18). Before his success, Okonkwo did not have an easy life. Okonkwo works very hard in order to maintain his huts, and the other property that he has.
He is unlike others who have inherited property from their families.Okonkwo can say that he worked for his hut, and everything he has. That is a major accomplishment. Members of his clan admire him for being hard working and that’s why he is highly respected. Okonkwo is a well known man.
Okonkwo has fame and respect. Some times, when a person is famous, they are not respected. Respect is not given according to income; it is a quality that must be earned. One can not gain respect just by telling others to respect him.
The word respect means to have differential regards to someone or something. And so, although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest in the village. Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, ‘if a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings’.
Okonkwo clearly washed his hands, and so he ate with the kings and the elders” (8). It was a privilege to eat amongst the kings and the elders. That is how he is respected. Okonkwo is at a young age, and people think of him as one of the greatest men of all times. Many are hardly recognized for anything that they do.
Not only is he recognized by the members of the village, but he is also noticed by the kings and the elders. That is a good way to start off your life. Okonkwo seems to have accomplished it all. He is a leader, a hero, a hard worker, and has a very high level of respect. Everything in his life seems to be perfect.
But there comes a time in life where one faces problems, and different struggles come, and that all can over power you. It seems as if when Okonkwo is at the prime of is life, he starts to face tragedies “All was silent. In the center of the crowd, a boy lay in a pool of blood.It was the dead mans sixteen year old son, who with his brothers and half brothers, had been dancing the traditional farewell to their father. Okonkwo’s gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boys’ heart. The confusion that followed was without parallel in the tradition of Umuofia.
Violent deaths were frequent, but nothing like this had ever happened” (124). This is a major downfall for Okonkwo. After all he had accomplished, he killed an innocent sixteen year old boy. This is a mistake on his behalf, but consequences were soon to follow. Everything was going so great for him. Was this a start of a new beginning? Can someone’s life be turned around based on ones mistake? When a hero faces tragedy, does that really make him a tragic hero? A tragic hero is someone who was once admired, and then has a tragic downfall.
As shown, Okonkwo has a downfall, and he is a hero. So therefore, can he be considered as a tragic hero? Especially, when the tragedy was accidental? “The only course open to Okonkwo was to flee from the clan. It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill clans’ men, and the man who committed it, must flee from the land. The crime was of to kinds, male and female. Okonkwo committed the female, because the crime was inadvertent. He could return to the clan in seven years” (124).
All the things that he accomplished were gone. At first he is seen as a great man, but now he is seen as a murderer. All his good deeds are now being overlooked. Suddenly, all his accomplishments are lost. Okonkwo moves to his motherland and basically has to start a new life. It is his family and himself that he has to care for.
“Okonkwo and his family worked very hard to plant a new farm. But it was beginning life anew without the vigor, and enthusiasm of youth, like learning to become left handed in old age. Work no longer had for him the pleasure it use to have, and when there was no work to do, he sat in a silent half sleep. His life had been ruled by a great passion-to become one of the lords of the clan. That had been a life spring. And he had all but achieved it.
Then everything had been broken. He had been last out of his clan, like a fish onto a dry, sandy beach, panting” (131). Okonkwo is so sad when he is kicked out of the clan. That is everything that he has ever wanted, and now it is all gone. This is when his life starts to go downhill.
What causes a man to lose power? What causes a man to have downfall? I believe it is arrogance. Okonkwo thinks to highly of himself. He looks down upon others. That is where he goes wrong.
He also has anger issues. He leads his life with his emotions, and not his mind. Now, because of his actions, he has to start his life over. He is left with nothing. And it is all because he is now wise.
He may have been respected by others, but it’s only when you accumulate wisdom, that you can live a downfall free life.