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Things Fall Apart: Psychoanalysis
Transcript of Things Fall Apart: Psychoanalysis
The embarrasment that Okonkwo experienced as a result of his father's failures stopped him from being able to develop into who he was really suppose to be. Due to witnessing his father's "cowardly" life, Okonkwo is so afraid of being thought of as weak that he is unable to accept any feeling or action that may result in it. Eventually, Okonkwo's can not longer continue his act and he takes his own life.
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Throughout his life, Okonkwo is ashamed of his father.
"With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife. "
Okonkwo is ashamed that his father was not capable of giving him anything to help him with his future. As a result, he is determined to establish a life for himself and ensure that he will never be anything like his father.
"Unoka was like that in his last days. His love to talk had grown with age and sickness. It tried Okonkwo's patience beyond words." (25)
Okonkwo is aggravated by his father's behaviour because even he himself believed that he father was not manly enough.
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Okonkwo will do anything possible to surpass his fathers achievements and legacy.
"[Okonkwo] had begun even in his father's lifetime to lay the foundation of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possed by the fear of his father's contemptible life and shameful death." (18)
Okonkwo uses his fear as motivation used to propel his future achievements. He is so determined to make a name for himself from nothing that he starts his own yam farm, has three wives, is a well-known warrior and uses these to ensure his respect from his clansmen.
"I know what it is to ask a man to trust another with his yams, especially these days when young men are afraid of hard work. I am nor afraid of work." (21)
Okonkwo paints himself early on as a strong man that one can trust to 'get the job done.'
"Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only think worth demonstrating was strength." (28)
Okonkwo even clearly states that he sees no point in showing any other emotions other than those of strength. This shows that Okonkwo may actually feel other emotions such as love and appreciation, but is not willing to show them.
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Okonkwo's represent a man who is not able to accept himself or his emotions, therefore leading him to harmful actions into order to maintain his image, for his mental well being, and for everyone to know he will never succumb to weakness.
"And when [Ojiugo] returned [Okonkwo] beat her heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with hhim that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess." (30)
Okonkwo rules his family with an iron fist and makes sure that everyone knows it. He openly beats his wife when he would be worshipping the goddess, taking this too far by not stopping once realizing that he is disrespecting his goddess and his village. Instead, Okonkwo only worries about appearing tough by continuing to punish his wife.
"So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land-masculine stories of violence and bloodshed." (53)
Okonkwo encourages his sons to 'grumble about women' and learning to farm as he wants to make sure he will have prosperous sons to continue to represent his strength with they're own, even once he is gone. This represents Okonkwo's need for his name to carry even once he has passed away. Also, by telling these violent stories, he demonstrates to his children that he knows a great deal about war.
"He heard Ikemefuna cry, "My father, they have killed me!" as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak." (61)
Okonkwo takes part in the death of his son, disrespecting his elders and his own feelings. By killing his son, Okonkwo takes hi facade too far, in the name of not looking weak. What Okonkwo doesn't realize is that people will not think that he is weak for not killing his son.
by: Tiana Thomson