Things Fall Apart. Author: Chinua Achebe. Question: "Ultimately it is difficult to feel sympathy for Okonkwo. He was violen, barbaric and unable to change with the times." Discuss

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In the novel Okonkwo was violent, barbaric and unable to change with the times, thus it is difficult to feel sorry for such a man. However, if you look deeper into Okonkwo's character you may feel differently. Okonkwo has an inflexible will, which makes it difficult for him to accept change and in some ways he is "restricted" or "limited" as a result, being unable to portray his softer side. It is possible to feel sorry for Okonkwo because the book suggests that perhaps Okonkwo is not a cruel man, but a man whose whole life has been dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness.

Okonkwo's father was an improvident loafer of which Okonkwo felt great shame. Unoka was not fit to raise a family; most other children were provided for and had all their basic needs met. Okonkwo had to work hard during his childhood and adolescence to be able to have a decent start in life, which most other children had been given.

Okonkwo states "I had to fend for myself while most other children were sucking at their mothers teat."

In Okonkwos' youth children picked on him and called his father an"agbala" (woman). Okonkwo is unable to see past Unoka's negative characteristics to accept his kindness and love of company, conversation, beauty and music. For Okonkwo anything associated with Unoka is womanish and contemptible. The mental scarring that this caused Okonkwo should not be underestimated. This belief of unmanliness in his father is to a large extent why Okonkwo has a fear of failure and appearing weak and is why he terrorises his wives and children.

Despite Okonkwo being an unbalanced character he knew right from wrong. One should not feel sorry for such a man. When he was exiled from his clan after inadvertently...