The ending of Things Fall Apart, written by Africa’s one of the most read writers, Chinua Achebe is so sudden and yet profound it leaves you questioning what made the author kill the hero, Okwonkwo. Could it be because (Okwonkwo) was so rigid & set on living according to his traditional customs that the new modern world had no place for him?
Or was it because Okwonkwo was so inflexible in his ways, beliefs and too caught up in becoming what society expected of him that when things fell apart he could not remember nor salvage his SELF.
In retrospect its even ironic that okwonkwo is the protagonist and the hero in the book considering hes charaterised by barbarism, chauvinism, misogyny animism that even his son denounces him. But again who is the antagonist in their own lives?
Here’s a thought: Perhaps his death reflects the impact of colonialism to the African society and its traditions.
Through Okwonkwos eyes, we see the positives of the sudden insurgence of the white man’s religion and the impact it had on lives. However, in the end, we also see how faith/religion gradually became a ploy to gain power, decentralise, divide and conquer new territories. Achebe puts it this way, “Your buttocks understand our language.” It’s noted as a joke, but it shows how Africanism was diminished and viewed in contempt right from the beginning.
Whether we focus on the post-colonial positives happening at okwonkwos community like literacy, an “end” to barbarism like the killing of twins, women empowerment, etc Chinua makes sure that we dont lose sight of what happens at the individual level. Despair is deadly.
Yet the question still remains why did Okwonkwo kill himself? He could’ve lived to fight another day just like the men left in the village.
Its the same question one asks when Leonardo DiCaprio dies in #Titanic. If Kate Winslet survived so could he. It wasn’t hard to find another board at sea. I mean wasnt the ship wrecked to havoc?
But then again on a different lens we can help but wonder what if Titanic wasn’t about the love story we so envisioned from the beginning. What if it was about Kate’s transformation to which Leonardo had no further role to play, which is why he had to die.
Just like in the movie Me before you. William, the guy in the wheelchair had to die metaphorically and in the physical form because his role was to contribute to the becoming of his maid Louisa Clarke.
The death of Okwonkwo in Things Fall Apart is a culmination of dynamic events happening in different contexts. Yet Chinua Achebe manages to take us high & back to the most basic & elemental question of all 1 that everyone asks when another takes their life. What made them do it?
#ThingsFallApart is just but a biography of a guy in living in Nigeria in the 19th century. But when you delve deeper it becomes an autobiography or at least fragments of it depending on the society you’re living in, of every human/African living within or abroad.
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