Things Fall Apart Characters Essay, Research Paper
Akunna – Akunna is a clan leader of Umuofia. He and Mr. Brown discuss their religious beliefs peacefully. Neither converts the other, but they learn more about the other’s faith.
Mr. Brown – Mr. Brown is the first white missionary to travel to Umuofia. He institutes a policy of compromise and understanding between his flock and the clan. He does not like his flock to antagonize the clan. He even becomes friends with prominent clansmen. He builds a school and a hospital in Umuofia and urges the clan to send their children to school. He warns them that if they do not learn to read and write, strangers who can will come and overtake them.
Chielo – Chielo is a priestess in Umuofia. She is dedicated to the Oracle of the goddess Agbala. In ordinary life, she is a widow with two children. She is good friends with Ekwefi and is fond of Ezinma, whom she calls “my daughter.”
The District Commissioner – The District Commissioner is an authority figure in the white colonial government in Nigeria. He is the typical, racist colonist who understands nothing of native African customs or cultures and has no respect for them.
Ekwefi – Ekwefi is Okonkwo’s second wife. He won her heart when he defeated Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling contest in his youth. He was too poor to pay her bride-price then. A few years later, she ran away from her first husband to live with Okonkwo. She was the village beauty in her youth. Ezinma is her only surviving child. Her first nine children died in their infancy, and Ekwefi constantly fears that she will lose Ezinma as well. Ekwefi is good friends with Chielo, the priestess of the goddess Agbala.
Enoch – Enoch is a zealous convert to the Christian church in Umuofia. He rips the mask off an egwugwu during an annual ceremony to honor the earth deity. Enoch’s action is equivalent to killing an ancestral spirit, so the egwugwu burn his compound and the Christian church to cleanse the village of Enoch’s terrible sin against the indigenous faith. This leads to a clash between the indigenous and colonial justice systems that ends with Okonkwo’s suicide, a grave sin in Umuofia’s belief system.
Ezinma – Ezinma is the only child of Okonkwo’s second wife, Ekwefi. Ekwefi’s first nine children died in infancy, so Ezinma is the center of her mother’s world. She and her mother have a relationship that is more like that between equals than that between parent and child. She is also Okonkwo’s favorite child because she looks like her mother when Ekwefi was the village beauty. He is also fond of her because she understands him best of all his children. They develop an even closer bond when Okonkwo must spend seven years in exile in his mother’s native village. Okonkwo rarely demonstrates his affection, however, because he thinks it makes him look weak. Okonkwo also wishes Ezinma were a boy because she would have been the perfect son.
Ikemefuna – Ikemefuna’s father murders a woman from Umuofia. Umuofia delivers a message to the murderer’s village that they must give Umuofia a young man and a virgin or go to war. The offending village gives Ikemefuna and a young maiden. The maiden becomes the wife of the murdered woman’s husband. Umuofia’s clan leaders do not know what to do with Ikemefuna so they give him to Okonkwo. Ikemefuna lives in the hut of Okonkwo’s first wife. He quickly becomes popular with Okonkwo’s children. He develops an especially close relationship with Nwoye, Okonkwo’s oldest son. Okonkwo becomes very fond of Ikemefuna as well, but he does not demonstrate his affection because he thinks it makes him look weak. Ikemefuna is the perfect clansman, and he calls Okonkwo “father.” After three years, the elders consult the Oracle about Ikemefuna’s fate. The Oracle tells them to kill Ikemefuna. The elders tell Okonkwo not to take a hand in Ikemefuna’s death because he calls Okonkwo “father.” They tell Ikemefuna that he is going back to his natal village, and a group of men goes with him. When they begin to attack him, Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo for help. Okonkwo kills him to avoid looking weak. Nwoye converts to Christianity a few years later because he never comes to terms with Ikemefuna’s death, decreed by indigenous gods.
Maduka – Maduka is Obierika’s son. He wins a wrestling contest in his mid-teens. Okonkwo wishes he had promising, manly sons like Maduka.
Nwoye – Nwoye is Okonkwo’s oldest son. Okonkwo decides that Nwoye is weak and lazy from an early age. He continually beats the boy, hoping to correct the faults he perceives. When Ikemefuna comes to live in the hut of Nwoye’s mother, Nwoye quickly becomes attached to him. Ikemefuna is like an older brother to Nwoye. Under his influence, Nwoye begins to exhibit more masculine behavior, pleasing Okonkwo. After Ikemefuna’s death, Nwoye begins to doubt some of the laws and rules of his tribe. He also does not understand why twins must be thrown away to die. He converts to Christianity when the missionaries come to Mbanta while his father remains in exile. Okonkwo is furious that his son would be so “effeminate” and weak.
Obiageli – Obiageli is the daughter of Okonkwo’s first wife. She and Ezinma are close in age, but Ezinma has a great deal of influence over her.
Obierika – Obierika is a close friend of Okonkwo. When Okonkwo goes into exile in his mother’s natal village, Obierika sells the largest of Okonkwo’s yams. He sells some seed-yams, and gives others to sharecroppers. In this way, he ensures that Okonkwo does not suffer complete financial ruin. Okonkwo’s exile also makes him wonder why a man should be punished so harshly for accidentally killing a clansman. He also wonders why twin newborns must be thrown away to die since they committed no crime other than being born. Obierika comforts Okonkwo during his depression over Ikemefuna’s death, but he thinks Okonkwo was gravely wrong to take part in it.
Ogbuefi Ezeudu – Ogbuefi Ezeudu is an important clan elder and leader. He was also a great warrior in his youth. He delivers the Oracle’s pronouncement of death for Ikemefuna to Okonkwo. He warns Okonkwo not to take part in the boy’s death because he calls Okonkwo “father.” When the announcement of the old man’s death occurs, Okonkwo shudders because the last time Ezeudu visited him, he delivered the Oracle’s pronouncement and his warning against taking a hand in killing Ikemefuna. Ogbuefi Ezeudu receives an elaborate warrior’s funeral because he was a great man in Umuofia. During the funeral, Okonkwo’s gun explodes, killing Ezeudu’s sixteen year old son by accident. Killing a clansman, even inadvertently, is an offense against the clan’s gods. Okonkwo has to go in exile for seven years to atone for his sin. He travels to his mother’s native village, Mbanta.
Ojiugo – Ojiugo is Okonkwo’s third wife.
Okonkwo – Okonkwo is a clan leader in Umuofia. His father, Unoka, was a coward and a spendthrift by the standards of the clan. He feared the sight of blood, never took a title, and died of an abominable illness. He left numerous heavy debts unpaid at his death. Since early childhood, Okonkwo was ashamed of his father. However, his hard work and his prowess in war earned him a position of high status and influence in his clan. He rises to a position of wealth sufficient to support three wives and their children. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw is that he is terrified of looking weak like his father; as a result, he behaves rashly, bringing a great deal of trouble and sorrow upon himself and his family. After he takes part in Ikemefuna’s death, his fortunes take a turn for the worse, and he ends by committing suicide, a grave sin in his clan.
Reverend James Smith – Smith is the missionary who replaces Mr. Brown. Unlike Brown, he is uncompromising and strict. He demands that his converts reject all of their indigenous beliefs, and he shows no respect for indigenous customs or culture. He is the stereotypical white colonist in many ways.
Uchendu – Uchendu is the younger brother of Okonkwo’s mother. He receives Okonkwo and his family warmly when Okonkwo travels to Mbanta to spend his seven years in exile from his fatherland. He notices Okonkwo’s despair at his misfortune. He gathers his family together and explains to them the value of the mother and her people. A man stays in his fatherland when his life is good, but he seeks refuge in the motherland when his life is bitter and sorrowful. He advises Okonkwo to be grateful for the comfort his motherland offers him, or he will risk angering the dead, especially his mother, who is buried in Mbanta. He reminds Okonkwo that he himself has suffered in his life. All but one of his six wives are dead, and he has buried twenty-two children in his life. Uchendu is a peaceful, compromising man, unlike Okonkwo who acts rashly without thinking.
Unoka – Unoka is Okonkwo’s father. By the standards of the clan, he is a coward and a spendthrift. He never took a single title in his life. He borrowed money from his clansmen, and rarely repaid his debts. He feared the sight of blood, so he never became a warrior. Moreover, he died of an abominable illness. From early childhood, Okonkwo was ashamed of his father.