In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is the protagonist and the tragic hero. Okonkwo becomes the tragic through his power, actions, and his tragic flaw. .
Okonkwo is a very powerful member of the Ibo people who is both honored and feared. His fame is apparant when Achebe states, "Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond." (3) He becomes famous by throwing Amalinze the Cat despite the tattered name his father Unoka has given his family. Okonkwo's father was known as a lazy debtor throughout the village. Okonkwo's greatest fear was being like his father. His fear developed him into an anti-Unoka in some aspects. Although he starts with very little, Okonkwo becomes more fortunate through hard work and it is said that, "prosperity was visible in his household"(14). .
Okonkwo's major flaw is his fear and consequently fear of being thought of as a failure like his father. Okonkwo's fear leads him to the extreme. Unoka was a very lazy and carefree man who has a reputation of being "poor and his wife and children had just barely enough to eat" (5). Okonkwo teaches himself the expectations of being a respectable man. As a result of his own conclusions, Okonkwo feels that anything resembling his father or anything that his father enjoyed was weak and unnecessary. .
Okonkwo's extreme actions eventually lead him to his downfall. Although his actions due to his anger have given him titles and a place in the upper class of Umofia, it eventually destroys him. Okonkwo is very abusive to his son; for example, when Nwoye overhears that Ikemefuna was to be "taken back to his village, [he] burst into tears. [Okonkwo] beat him heavily." (57). Okonkwo strives to instill his personal views on how to live as a man to his own son. Okonkwo feels that crying is very womanly therefore Nwoye is punished for it. Okonkwo's inability to control his anger eventually drives his son away from him instead of teaching him what is right and what is wrong.