Okonkwo

A journey through Okonkwo's mind...

Growing up, Okonkwo put so much pressure on himself so he would not be like his father. "...a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father."(Achebe 5) He had to prove that he was better than his father, so he created his father into a monster like the one we see in this painting.
To further Okonkwo from being anything like his father even more, he created himself into a strong fighter. "...he was not afraid of war. He was a man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood." (Achebe 7) Nothing ever scared him, he was always ready to step up and fight, even if it involved war like this painting shows.
Okonkwo was a little obsessed with being a success. "Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness." (Achebe 9) This painting shows the utter state of fear Okonkwo was constantly in due to the pressures that were on him. The unfortunate part of this is, he was really the only one putting pressure on him.
These two rabbits have taken a liking to each other, just like Okonkwo and Ikemefuna, despite their differences. "Even Okonkwo himself became very fond of the boy [Ikemefuna] - inwardly of course." (Achebe 20) They do not show any major signs of love for each other, but the fact they are getting along without conflict says a lot about their relationship and how they feel about the other.
Okonkwo had murdered the boy who called him father. "Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak." (Achebe 43) Okonkwo is the hungry lion. He was advised to not take part in the killing of Ikemefuna, but he still did it. Ikemefuna is the innocent antelope, completely blindsided by the fact that the man he called his father would also be called his killer.
Okonkwo rapidly became depressed after Ikemefuna's death. "Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna. ...his eyes were red and fierce like the eyes of a rat when it was caught by the tail and dashed against the floor." (Achebe 45) The woman in the painting in the painting is the embodiment of how Okonkwo was feeling: completely isolated in his own mind.
When Okonkwo returned to his tribe, he was completely starting over. "He knew that he had lost his place among the nine masked spirits who administered justice in the clan. He had lost the chance to lead his warlike clan against the new religion, which, he was told, had gained ground." (Achebe 119) He was getting a fresh start. The seashore in this painting represents Okonkwo's blank slate.
Now began Okonkwo's hatred for the new religion and the white men who were forcing it into his tribe "'We should have killed the white man if you had listened to me,' Okonkwo snarled." (Achebe 136) He loathed them all so much he wished death upon them. This is where we truly begin to see Okonkwo deteriorate. The fires and ashes in the painting is Okonkwo life falling apart.
"'The white man whose power you know too well has ordered this meeting to stop.' In a flash Okonkwo drew his machete...Okonkwo's machete descended twice and the man's head lay beside his uniformed body." (Achebe 143-144) Okonkwo no longer had any control over himself. His hate for the white men engulfed his body. The man surrounded by dead bodies is Okonkwo. Look at how hopeless the man is, which is how Okonkwo feels. He now realized that he was out of control.
Okonkwo had lost all hope. When the group was searching for him, they found him dead. "Then they came to the tree from which Okonkwo's body was dangling, and they stopped dead." (Achebe 146) Okonkwo killed himself. The darkness in this piece represents what had happened to Okonkwo. Sadness and isolation took over his mind.
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