2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Okonkwo and the Severing of the Thread: Internal Denial as a Pathway to Cultural Destruction
Stephen E. Nellis
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In his novel Things Fall Apart, author Chinua Achebe presents the central character Okonkwo as a complex man emerging from an intricately developed society. While Okonkwo embodies many of his society’s values and ideals, his extreme, uncompromising nature makes him an aberration among his people. While avoiding simple allegory, Achebe’s presentation of Okonkwo illuminates societal flaws contributing to the downfall of Ibo people as they are confronted with colonization. The presentation of a flawed hero provides an alternate view of the Ibo, presenting Okonkwo as the paradoxical paradigm of a complex society. This paper will critically analyze Okonkwo’s character and actions and propound that an individual’s refusal to acknowledge inner thoughts and feelings can multiply throughout a society, contributing to an overall loss of cultural identity.

Keywords: Things Fall Apart, Achebe, Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo, Nigeria, Postcolonialism, Africa


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 45-2
Location: VH 1304
Time: 4:00

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