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Chinua Achebe's "tragic Hero" Deserves That Title

            In Chinua Achebe's popular novel, Things Fall Apart, the world, especially the western world, is presented with the complex narrative of an Ibo warrior, Okonkwo. He is a man who is rash and abrasive; a man who equates gentleness and compromise as weakly and effeminate. At the same time, he is hiding a sensitive and caring nature under his masculine exterior, as the reader soon finds out. He is the antithesis of the primitive African that is so often represented in the white colonists" works. This multifaceted character is driven by his loathing for his sweet, gentle, lazy father to become everything he was not, and through this lens, his world view is formed. He can be written off, without much hesitation, as a weak character that selfishly takes his life and becomes everything he didn't want to be; but a closer examination shows that Okonkwo grew and changed significantly from the character we first knew to the one that ended his life in the concluding chapter. Through his unique, yet universal, story, Okonkwo has grown to deserve the titles and greatness he so longed for all his life. He was essentially a cowardly man driven by fear and anger for most of his life, and only in the end does he rise above his cowardice and act nobly. .
             One of the first turning points in the novel is when Okonkwo takes part in the sacrifice of his adopted son, Ikemefuna. Okonkwo inwardly feels very fondly about the boy, and has become a father figure to him. Although an elder comes and cautions him not to take part in the killing of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo doesn't want to look weak in the eyes of his village and goes along all the same. In his fear, when the boy runs to him for protection, he even raises his machete and cuts him down. Though tragic and cowardly, this is all typical of his brash and violent exterior. The change becomes apparent only after the deed is done. Okonkwo has become very prestigious by this time and has amassed a fair amount of wealth.

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