Original Research

Okonkwo’s fate and the worldview of Things Fall Apart

A. Foley
Literator | Vol 22, No 2 | a361 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v22i2.361 | © 2001 A. Foley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 August 2001 | Published: 07 August 2001

About the author(s)

A. Foley, Department of English, Johannesburg College of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Abstract

This article argues that despite the apparently exhaustive critical attention paid to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), certain key aspects of the novel’s meaning remain unresolved. At the heart of the problem lies the question of how to interpret the reasons for Okonkwo’s downfall or fate. The article suggests that a number of different sources of explanation appear to be plausible at various levels, but it goes on to demonstrate that at least some of these putative explanations are incompatible if not mutually exclusive. The more general difficulty arising from this is that several of these explanations are underpinned by worldviews which differ from and even conflict with each other. The article intends, therefore, through an exploration of the possible reasons for Okonkwo’s demise, to consider what worldview the novel finally supports and, indeed, whether the novel’s outlook is coherent at all. The chief conclusion is that although the overall perspective of the novel is highly complex, it does not necessarily follow that the actual meaning of the novel itself is either illogical or selfcontradictory.

Keywords

Chinua Achebe; Okonkwos Fate; Things Fall Apart 1958; Traditional Modern Worldview; Worldviews Conflicting In Things Fall Apart

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