2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Securing a Balance in Life: an Analysis of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart
Christopher A. Matthews
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In his novel ,Things Fall Apart (1959), Chinua Achebe reinforces the ideal of a personality balanced with both masculine and feminine traits by negatively portraying the protagonist Okonkwo as unstably masculine. Epitomizing virility, Okonkwo is an extreme representation of his male African Ibo tribesmen, many of which Achebe depicts as balanced and well off. By subjecting his protagonist to a tragic fate, Achebe warns the reader of the dangers associated with a person developing an unbalanced personality. Furthermore, an analysis of Okonkwo’s psyche reveals his primarily intrinsic desire to be as dissimilar to his effeminate and unsuccessful father as possible. This underlying motive drives nearly all of Okonkwo’s actions throughout Achebe’s novel, and is the primary reason Okonkwo exhibits strictly masculine attributes. The traditions of the patriarchal Ibo society and Okonkwo’s radical psyche illustrate Chinua Achebe’s admonition to maintain a psychological balance between masculine and feminine characteristics.

Keywords: Things Fall Apart, Achebe, Okonkwo, masculine, feminine, Ibo

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 19-2
Location: VH 1320
Time: 10:15

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