Okonkwo is a ôtall and hugeö and proud Igbo (Achebe 3). His overriding emotion in Things Fall Apart is anger, anger at the changes Christian missionaries have wrought on his people and culture and at his own people for succumbing to these changes.
During his exile and afterward, Okonkwo is angry because he believes that the values being imposed on the Igbo by the British are robbing his people of their heritage, culture, and identity. OkonkwoÆs exile separates him from his community, which provided him with his identity. When he returns and sees the changes wrought on his community, he understands he no longer relates to even his own people. This is why he takes his own life.
Okonkwo is not immune to fear, such as his fear of the ôevil and capricious gods and of magicö (Achebe 13). However, his courage and strength permit him to tackle these fears to aid his people. He cannot face the fear he has that his peopleÆs identity and heritage are being erased by the changes wrought by the missionaries.
Despite OkonkwoÆs argument that his people are succumbing to the missionaries, thereby undermining their own existence and culture, he is also guilty of similar behavior in the way he abuses his wives, treating women inferior like the Igbo are treated by the British. As Uchendu must tell him, ôYour mother is there to protect youàAnd that is why we say that mother is supremeö (Achebe 95).
In sum, OkonkwoÆs argument only looks at the negative changes wrought by the missionaries. He is incapable of adapting to change, which is what causes him to lose his life. While his culture may be changed, it has survived by adapting. Okonkwo is incapable of changing, so his life is no longer one of meaning of community connection for him.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Griot, 1986.