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Okonkwo's relationship with his father at a young age played a major role in his violent nature. He is impatient, and because of his father's failure, "he had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father (pg 4)." As a result of this Okonkwo began to surround himself with success.
Okonkwo hardly knew a life without fame and success. His reputation preceded him as a renowned wrestler, and his personal achievements earned him a high title in the clan. Okonkwo was prideful in his achievements and his strength, and he feared losing the main thing that he prided himself in: his masculinity. Okonkwo's ego led to his weakness, which ironically was his fear of being seen as weak."If ever a man deserved his success, that man was Okonkwo. (Pg 27)."
In an attempt to be everything his father was not, Okonkwo was violent in an act off being the opposite of compassionate. Because of this, "Okonkwo ruled his his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially his youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his children (Pg 13)."
Okonkwo was respected in his village early on. He became used to being in a position of power because "age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with the kings (Pg 8)." His high status shielded him from knowing failure and as a result he eventually decided to accept death rather than admitting defeat.
Okonkwo constantly attempted to maintain his masculinity and avoid showing weakness, and somewhere along the way he relinquished his ability to love and sympathize which ultimately contributed to his failure as a hero. He was willing to kill his adoptive son in order to maintain his sense of hyper masculinity. When prompted to kill Ikemefuna, "Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak (Pg 61)."
"Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna (Pg 63)." Okonkwo never truly had a son that he admired, so he developed a strong relationship with Ikemefuna because he was the son that Okonkwo had always wanted. He is punishing himself because no one else would. Though Okonkwo tries to hide his emotions, it is still evident that he feels regretful of Ikemefuna's death.
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