Okonkwo Tragic Hero Essay Slowly the men make their way up the hill with Obierika in the lead. Leaves crunch as feet uniformly step onto the ground. The commissioner and his soldiers are warily eyeing their surroundings.
Each man snuggles close to Okonkwo’s compound wall, hoping not to be seen. They go past a small bush. It is next to a red hole in the wall where small animals enter and exit the compound. Finally, the men all stop. They spot the body dangling from a tree. They stand upright in shock. The carcass of Okonkwo steadily swings in the breeze.
As each man looks upon it disbelievingly, Obierika says to the commissioner heatedly, “That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself, and now he will be buried like a dog…” (page 207). In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the main character of Okonkwo displays many different aspects of his personality that lead to this moment. Even though Okonkwo is in a society that forbids suicide, for many reasons he chooses to end his life this way. Thus, Okonkwo becomes a tragic hero, and at the end of the book, he takes his own life to end his pain. Two of the characteristics of a tragic hero are that the person is of high birth and his actions affect the nation.
“Unoka, for that was his father’s name, had died ten years ago. In his day he was lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow” (page 4). High birth can be a miracle or a curse, high birth comes with the ability to achieve the impossible and this is Okonkwo’s focus in life.
Unoka to Okonkwo is a failure and he strives to be the exact opposite of his father and make a name for himself apart from his fathers. “Unoka loved it all, and he loved the first kites that returned with the dry season, and the children who sang songs of welcome to them” (page 5). The happiness that Unoka enjoys is not the result of high birth it is because of his love for the simple moments in life and the music that flows around it. Okonkwo does not enjoy life and all it has to offer and ultimately he will not obtain victory. “As he broke the kola, Unoka prayed to their ancestors for life and health, and for protection against their enemies” (page 6). Prayer is ultimately the most important aspect of Unoka’s life, even though he is not of high birth, and as he bestows this trait to Okonkwo, this affects how he makes decisions and how his actions affect Umuofia.
Okonkwo is deeply religious as he progresses throughout life and does not bestow the power of prayer upon Nwoye, this affects Okonkwo’s life which leads to his death and the impact of the nations sorrow.“If any money came his way, and it seldom did, he immediately bought gourds of palm-wine, called round his neighbors and made merry” (page 4). The advantage of high birth is that money follows it and with money people are supposedly happy, even Unoka, who is a poor man still finds happiness with in himself. Unoka’s disadvantage of high birth affects the nation in a negative manner by the way he begs for money and ceases to pay anyone back. Other attributes of a tragic hero are he has a fatal flaw, and he does something to begin his downfall. “My father, they have killed me” (page 61). As Ikemefuna’s death approaches he yells to Okonkwo for help, in which it is only Okonkwo who kills his own son.
Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna out of his desire not to resemble a women and indeed this is his fatal flaw, which propels him into his downfall. “When did you become a shriving old women” (page 65). The Umuofia tribe establishes a code for their men and the characteristics not to resemble a women are of high worth. To resemble a women, personality wise, is a definite flaw which all men especially Okonkwo try to avoid at all means. “Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war.
He knew because they had let the other messengers escape. They had broken into tumult instead.