Things Fall Apart A Comparison Essay, Research Paper
Okonkwo and Obierika, two characters in Chinua Achebe s Things Fall Apart, are two drastically different people, yet they share some of the same qualities and beliefs. Okonkwo is stubborn, headstrong, and rigid. Obierika is open-minded, thoughtful, and expressive. Both believe and follow the same religion, and attempt to attain honour in their society. They are friends that are not afraid to criticize one another or point out each other s faults. Chinua Achebe uses these two characters to show the many aspects of Ibo culture through different perspectives, to give the reader a greater understanding.
Okonkwo and Obierika, two friends could not be more different. They are like night and day or Yin and Yang. Okonkwo is very rigid, closed off, and unwilling to accept those he deemed unsuccessful, He had no patience for unsuccessful people. while Obierika is tolerant, open to change, and willing to consider other people s beliefs and ideas. Okonkwo is willing to follow his people s beliefs and values unerringly and without question. He also fears that he will be thought weak in the eyes of the tribesmen so he becomes fanatical in appearing the pinnacle of strength and manliness. This fanaticism leads him to kill his surrogate son, Ikemefuna, as it was the will of the Gods.
He heard Ikemefuna cry, My father, they have killed me! as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.
Okonkwo s fears of weakness lead him to do a great many things that ultimately mean his own downfall. Okonkwo and Obierika s beliefs often differ. When Okonkwo took part in the murder of his son, Obierika believed that he was wrong to do so. If I were you I would have stayed at home. What you have done will not please the Earth. It is the kind of action for which the goddess wipes out whole families. Okonkwo is unwilling to say what he thinks if that thought happens to go against a belief or value of the tribe, whereas Obierika is often willing to say what he thinks. An example is when Okonkwo questions Obierika s decision not to come along to aid in Ikemefuna s death. He is willing to admit that he did not want to come. Okonkwo is a leader and takes quick action, while Obierika is a follower and waits for another to make the first move or decision. One of the biggest difference between Okonkwo and Obierika is that Okonkwo is always insecure, afraid of himself, and afraid of what other people will think of him and Obierika is self-assured, able to accept who he is, and confident that people will accept him for who he is. The other important difference between the two is that Okonkwo is unable or unwilling to accept the presence of the Christians or the British, while Obierika is able to accept the fact that they are here, even if he does not want them to be there.
Though Okonkwo and Obierika appear to be very different they share qualities and characteristics that make it possible for them to co exist without too much conflict. To begin with both Okonkwo and Obierika follow the same religion. Neither of them wishes to displease the various gods of their religion
You sound as if you question the authority and the decision of the Oracle, who said he should die. I do not. nor do they wish to convert to the new Christian religion. Okonkwo and Obierika share the desire to gain status in their tribe by earning titles and following their value systems. Okonkwo followed the will of the oracle in the decree of Ikemefuna s death, as would Obierika if it had been his son. The only difference is that Obierika would not have joined in the slaying. But if the Oracle said that my son should be killed I would neither dispute it nor be the one to do it. They, like the rest of the Ibo people have more than one wife and value male offspring higher than female. Both of the men are respected members of the tribe, and both of them have earned and deserve the respect they receive. Indeed he respected him [Okonkwo] for his industry and success. Okonkwo and Obierika possess the same type of life. They are both farmers, with the same crop, yams, they harvest palm wine to drink, and demand order and discipline from their families. They share the same opinions of people in general, if you have yams and titles you are successful, if you don t you are not. Finally both Okonkwo and Obierika value honor and courage. These similarities allow the two to be friends and to respect each other as well as accept and enjoy their differences.
Chinua Achebe has made these two friends so unlike one another to allow the reader a broader view of the life of the Ibo people. One gains the perspectives of both characters, which allows the reader to formulate more educated and well-rounded opinions. In Okonkwo One sees the ideal Ibo male played out to extremes. Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. Something highly valued by the Ibo people. There is an understanding of what kind of pressure the typical Ibo male is under to succeed and the resulting stresses. Obierika is a more moderate person. He has the same values and religion as Okonkwo and wishes to attain the same honors, like titles, but he is more capable of dealing with the pressures and stress of his life. He also offers a look into the inner Ibo male. The reader is given a chance to look inside his mind and see his private thoughts, which puts much of the novel into perspective. Okonkwo and Obierika show how two different people deal with the same type of like. One, Obierika copes with it well, dealing with things as they come and using his judgment, rather than the perceived judgement of the clan and one, Okonkwo does not, acting rashly at times and not following his mind, which leads to his suicide. These two characters in Things Fall Apart help to put the book and the events within it into perspective, while giving a deeper understanding of the book and the people s lives it is about.
Okonkwo and Obierika, two friends, with two separate lives, in the same society share their religion, values, and desires of high honor are to distinctly different people. Where Okonkwo is closed minded and unable to accept change or that change is inevitable, Obierika is willing to accept change and its inevitability and can sometimes see the value of the change. Together, Okonkwo and Obierika provide two different ways to view and understand the tribe. Through Achebe s writing the reader is able to look at the same event through different eyes thus gaining a broader perspective and greater understanding of the Ibo culture and the people.
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