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A tragic hero qualifies through taking brave courses of actions but at the same time making errors unknowingly. Okonkwo qualifies as a tragic hero in the novel “Things Fall Apart” because of his courageous actions to protect the community. However, despite his remarkable actions for the sake of the community, he errs unconsciously, and these lead to his downfall. His selfless sacrifices for the benefit of the community qualify him as a tragic hero. Okwonkwo’s daring acts are motivated by his wealth, which is described when the story commences. For instance, he decides to fight the invasion by the White man into his community, he successfully wrestles for his community by bringing down Amalinze the cat, and decides to participate in the killing of Ikemefuna.
This essay establishes Okwonkwo’s heroic deeds, and his misgivings that qualifies him as a tragic hero.
Firstly, Okwonkwo’s response to the invasion of by the White man depicts him as a tragic hero. Spreading of Christianity and culture motivated the White Man to come to Okwonkwo’s village. According to Whittaker, David, & Msiska (2007), this led to the conversion of many villagers who opted to join Christianity. Okwonkwo’s child called Nwoye also was converted. This did not impress him. Consequently, he rejected his son while at the same time plotting how to eradicate the White man from the village. The elders supported his idea as they shared the idea of the White man’s elimination. Thus, a meeting was called where the elders thrived on the idea of bringing down the church using an arsonist. This was a move to destabilize the White men in the region. However, their plan did not succeed as the White men got wind of their intentions, and consequently, arrested and incarcerated them, which led to their resignation from rebelling. Okwonkwo’s courageous nature depicts in this instance, as he did not falter in his plans against the White man. The value he held in his culture motivated him to ensure that the White man was no longer in their village. Notably, Okwonkwo was a lone ranger as no one in the village was willing to support him. Thus, to cement his commitment, he ensured the death of the White man messenger, which elevated him to a hero. This is action brought him out as a societal hero. This was a brave action, which no other person had ever attempted. All the other villagers branded him a hero for impressively facing the White messenger. The elder’s initial imprisonment scared other villagers from rebelling against the White man. The villager’s cowardice acted as a setback to Okwonkwo’s plan. According to Whittaker, David, & Msiska, (2007) He was badly devastated that he decides to commit suicide by hanging himself. His heroism in the fight against White man’s invasion had tragically ended thus portraying him as a tragic hero.
Okwonkwo’s adoption of Ikemefuna is also celebrated because the parents of the aforementioned were dead. The motivation behind the adoption was to substitute his son who depicted feminine characteristics. Ikemefuna displayed a high self-esteem that impressed the elders who recommended him to Okwonkwo. Another reason that led to consideration of Ikemefuna for the adoption was the atrocity that his father had committed. Thus, the revenge was to be passed on his son held at Okwonkwo’s residence. Ikemefuna resided with Okwonkwo for three years. According to Whittaker, David, & Msiska (2007), Ikemefuna had respect and considerede Okwonkwo as a father figure. This contributed to Okwonkwo’s love for him. In addition, he was hard working and courageous. Thus, Okwonkwo preferred Ikemefuna to Nwoye as he portrayed masculinity. However, this affection between father and son was cut short after three years due to a custom that was to be observed. The custom involved Ikemefuna’s death, and Okwonkwo had a decision whether to participate or not. Some elders warned him against participating, as it was tantamount to murdering one’s own child. According to Okonkwo, the failure to participate would depict a feminine character. He did not want to seen as weak by the other men. On the day of Ikemefuna’s murder, it is Okonkwo himself who executed the final blow even as Ikemefuna cried for his help. Arguably, Okonkwo was daring in character, but the decision was uninformed. Thus, the trouble he started coming across soon after Ikemefuna’s death reveals the atrocity he committed. A clear example is Okwonkwo’s banishment from the village as punishment of resulting to a boy’s death. Despite his popularity, the society denied him reprieve, and he was expected to stay away from the village for seven years, which marked great blow to his societal influence.
Whittaker, David, & Msiska (2007) assert that, as a warrior, Okonkwo was courageous and focused on protecting the entire community together with other warriors; they participated in the inter-community annual wrestling contest. He never backed down to fight anyone. According to the people of Umuofia, Okonkwo was the best wrestler among the community wrestlers. The annual wrestling event was organized, and Okonkwo was assigned another great warrior called Amalinze the cat whom many feared. Okonkwo was well determined and bravely fought against Amalinze the undefeated hero. He successfully brought him down emerging victorious. After this Okonkwo was praised by everyone in the society. He had success by redeemed his culture’s image of success in the annual wrestling competition. Therefore, everyone in the society respected him for emerging victorious. Okonkwo was indeed a great warrior who defended his society’s culture. According to Whittaker, David, & Msiska (2007) Tragedy befell him during a funeral when he accidentally shot a boy. The society did not care about his heroism. Instead, everyone suggested that he and his family be expelled from the community in order to appease the ancestors. His heroism in the society tragically ended because of this experience as he was expelled for seven years from the community. The society did not care whether he had fought to defend his own culture initially. He was mercilessly expelled and made to stay away from the society for a period of seven years.
In conclusion, Okonkwo was a great hero in Umofia, but his heroism always ended tragically. He resolved to defend his culture against the influence of the White man. He was determined to bar the White man from spreading his religion and culture in Umofia. Despite the fact that other elders retreated from the war against Christianity, Okonkwo was determined and even killed a White man’s messenger. This tragically ended when he was deserted by the other elders thus committing suicide. He also adopted Ikemefuna whose father had killed an Umuofian woman. He lived with him well and even treated him better than his own son. After three years, the elders decided that Ikemefuna be killed. This was to be done by the village men. An old had initially warned him from participating. His urge to show that he was a hero made him participate and even throw the last blow that killed Ikemefuna. Okonkwo took part in the annual wrestling competition where he successfully brought down Amalinze the cat. He emerged as a hero who had defended the society’s winning culture. Despite all this display of heroism to defend society culture, he was expelled from the community when he accidentally killed a boy during a ritual burial ceremony. Indeed Okonkwo was a tragic hero.
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