Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Okonkwo Tragic flaw

The ending of the novel made me think of what is worth dying for. Many people in the wake of 9/11 found themselves going into the army. But to kill yourself for principal is hole other thong. No,one I can think of would do that. The ending also made me think of how conquering christian nations were.

There is an obvious decline in faith within the Ibo people, of their beliefs when the Christians show up. They, in a way abandon it altogether. There is no sense of unity about them in terms of their faith. I found it interesting, having already read this book that people were pulled over so quickly. What is also amazing is that the Outcasts and the lower people go first. In a way, maybe the Ibo beliefs were too radical. The Judeo-Christian God that we believe in does not cast people out. If anything, Christians believe that we should all be inclusive of everyone, no matter what their station.

Okonkwo's biggest mistake was no converting, because it was obvious he was fighting a losing battle. His second biggest mistake was murdering his child. I can't think of a religion or belief system that would condone that (Henry VIII doesn't count, he never murdered his kids). The concept of practicing faith in secret never occur ed to Okonkwo either. During the Holocaust, many Jews would practice in secret.

Okonkwo is meant to be a tragic hero. Its the may many main characters work. But he didn't have to be so "all or nothing" about it. In a way he is taking the coward's way out, but he also feels himself falling into a useless situation. There is no way out except death, and that climax is one of my favorite parts in the novel. When his own people explain how they can't cut him down it is almost as if he knew that would happen because they are the laws of his people. In contrast, the scene also sparks a shocking religious tight rope. The people in his village have converted, but they still include their old customs at the end of the book. Why? If almost everyone is converted, why reenact an old belief that you threw away in the first place? Its like the scene is the divide between two worlds, Ibo and Christianity bit they fall back on the Ibo when it comes to Okonkwo's death.

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