In this paper I argue the many reasons Okonkwo had to commit suicide, the first argument being that Okonkwo was born to a failure.
“He was poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat. People laughed at him because he was a loafer, and they swore never to lend him any more money because he never paid back. ” (pg. 4) Unoka, Okonkwo’s father was not the type of man that he wanted as a father.
“He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father. ” (pg.
4) Okonkwo knew he was lucky a man wasn’t judged by the worth of his father, and he worked hard so that he would never turn out to be like his father.Not only was he ashamed of the lifestyle his father lived but also the way he died. Unoka died in such a way that was an abomination to the earth goddess. It wasn’t only his father that he had to be ashamed of; Okonkwo was also ashamed of Nwoye, his first son. “Nwoye, was then twelve years old but was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness. At any rate, that was how it looked to his father, and he sought to correct him by constant nagging and beating. And so Nwoye was developing into a sad faced-faced youth. ” (pg.
3-14) Okonkwo was a very manly man, he believed that men should be strong; they should work hard and support their families. All Okonkwo wanted was for his son was to be a great man, a great farmer, and a man who would be capable of ruling his father’s household when he died. But to him Nwoye was lazy and feminine.He wished for his daughter Ezinma to be his son over Nwoye. I believe Okonkwo’s wives are also a part of the reason he committed suicide. ““We live in peace with our fellows to honor our great goddess of the earth without whose blessing our crops will not grow.
You have committed a great evil”” (pg. 0) He beat his youngest wife during the week of peace. His neighbors heard the cries of his wife, and he was punished by Ezeani.
I think Okonkwo was embarrassed, and If that harvesting season would have gone bad and the clan perished Okonkwo could have been blamed; and even Ezeani being the priest of the earth goddess I think Okonkwo still felt less of a man being punished by him. Okonkwo beat his second wife a couple of weeks later for killing a banana tree, she later murmured something about his gun and he fired a shot but missed her. His wives barley made him mad but when they did he got really mad, his wives caused him a lot of stress. “Yes, Umuofia has decided to kill him.The Oracle of the Hills and Caves had pronounced it.
They will take him outside Umuofia as is the custom, and kill him there. But I want you to have nothing to do with it. He calls you his father. ”” (Pg.
57) over the three years he stayed with Okonkwo, Ikemefuna was not forgotten about by the elders. They had finally decided to kill him. Ikemefuna had grew on their family he called Okonkwo father and Nwoye looked up to him as an older brother. Okonkwo appreciated Ikemefuna presence; he knew it was because of him that Nwoye had started to develop into more of the son he wanted.Ikemefuna being so close to his family, nor what Ogbuefi Ezeudu the respected village elder told him kept Okonkwo from the killing if Ikemefuna. I believe having to kill Ikemefuna was one of the biggest things that contributed to Okonkwo’s suicide; I don’t think he could ever forgive himself for what he did. Another big variable that contributed to Okonkwo’s suicide was the accident he had.
“Okonkwo’s gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boy’s heart. ”(pg. 124) “The only course open to Okonkwo was to flee from the clan.It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clan man, and a man who committed it must flee from the land. ” (pg. 124) Okonkwo had not only killed any boy, it was the son of Ogbuefi Ezeudu at his funeral.
This crime was also considered a female crime because it was done on accident. Not only did he commit this horribly embarrassing crime Okonkwo couldn’t return to his clan for seven years. Okonkwo knows of the white men but he doesn’t yet know that they have traveled into his village.
“They had built their church there, won a handful of converts and were already sending evangelist to the surrounding towns and villages. (pg. 143) When Okonkwo received this news from his friend Obierika he couldn’t do anything, he was still exiled. No matter what happen and how much his clan needed him he couldn’t return. The white man was not only taking over Okonkwo’s village they had his son. “But there was a young lad who had been captivated.
His name was Nwoye, Okonkwo’s first son. ”(pg. 147) Nwoye no longer considered Okonkwo his father he was a part of Christianity. Okonkwo is slowly losing everything, and the only thing he has control over is his wives and daughters.
“This was a womanly clan, he thought.Such a thing could never happen in his fatherland, Umuofia. ” (pg.
159) In Mbanta, his mother land the elders decided not to go to war like Okonkwo wanted but only to ostracize the Christians. I believed this caused a lot of Okonkwo’s stress he was a part of this village for almost seven years and it would be viewed as womanly. He was disgusted with this decision; Okonkwo doesn’t believe this is what a man should do. I believe this crushed his spirit; he couldn’t fight back the people that were hurting his clan and completely turned his son against him.Finally the seven years of exile were over, “He was determined that his return would be marked by his people. He would return with a flourish, and regain the seven wasted years. ” (pg. 171) Okonkwo thought his clan would be happy about his return in all reality no one gave him any attention.
I believe that this made him feel worthless and forgotten; he had lost all sense of being a part of something. “A part from the church, the white men had also brought a government. They built a court where the district Commissioner judged cases in ignorance. ” (pg. 174) “they were foreigners and also high-handed.
(pg. 174) Okonkwo couldn’t protect his people from the new government. How was he a warrior yet his people were being governed and imprisoned by foreigners. “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief.He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountably became soft like women. ” (pg.
183)Okonkwo had lost all honor in himself, and his clan. I think this was a major part in his decision to commit suicide. He not only was giving up on his clan but his self too. Although they had not agreed to kill the missionary or drive away the Christians, they had agreed to do something substantial. And they had done it.
Okonkwo was almost happy again. ” (pg. 192) The happiness that Okonkwo was finally getting wouldn’t last for long though. For what they did the Christians sought to punish them. The men were tricked and eventually imprisoned. Not only were the men imprisoned but they’re heads were shaved, they weren’t fed, and they were beat.
“He carried a strong stick, and he hit each man a few blows in the head and back.Okonkwo was choked with hate. ” (pg. 195) I think this is the main reason that Okonkwo committed suicide. Being imprisoned by foreigners, having his head shaved, and being beat was the worst thing that could of happened to him. He had been degraded and could do nothing about it, he was defenseless against the white man. I feel that Okonkwo felt like his clan would soon be completely ran by the whites, and he didn’t want to be a part of it. The only way out he had was suicide.
After all that Okonkwo had been through there is one more thing that pushes him over the edge.A clan meeting is planned for the next morning after they are released. Okonkwo hopes that war is coming, he reminisces of the best war of his youth, Umuofia killed 12 men, while the other clan only killed two. At the clan meeting they are interrupted, the head messenger tells them that the white man has commanded this meeting to stop. “Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man.
He knew that Umuofia would not go to war. He knew because they had let the other messengers escape they had broken into tumult instead of action. ” (pg.
205) “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life.It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen. His body is evil, and only strangers may touch it. ” (pg. 207) Being one of the greatest men in Umuofia and never wanting to end up like his dad.
You would think the last thing that Okonkwo would do is kill himself. He now died in such a way that was an offence, and he will be buried like his father. Okonkwo wanted to be the best, and with all the delays and mishaps that kept interfering I believe he just couldn’t do it anymore; he didn’t want to.
Instead of giving up and being looked at like a women he chose suicide.