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Repression and Tragedy in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart


Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is an unique filled with people, within a tribe, as they handle the frequently awful and disappointing occasions of their lives. Okonkwo, the lead character, and his boy, Nwoye, are two of these people who must find out to deal with these difficulties and distress. The murder of Ikemefuna, the adopted child of Okonkwo, is a pivotal occasion in Things Break Down and using repression by both Okonkwo and Nwoye offers us with a better understanding of the characterization of Okonkwo through desperate yearning for masculinity and Nwoye through his desire to alienate himself his daddy and their people.

Okonkwo constantly felt an unconscious fear of failure and weak point coming from a stress and anxiety that he would become like his daddy Unoka. Among the first things that we learn about Okonkwo is that “he had no patience with not successful men. He had had no persistence with his dad” (Achebe 4). His dad, “Unoka … was a failure. He was bad and his wife and kids had hardly sufficient to eat” (Achebe 5). As Okonkwo grew older, he desired nothing more than to be effective and masculine, the precise opposite of his daddy. “His entire life was dominated by fear, the worry of failure and of weakness … and so Okonkwo was ruled by one enthusiasm– to hate whatever that his daddy Unoka had loved” (Achebe 10). According to Peter Barry, “All of Freud’s work depends upon the concept of the unconscious, which is the part of the mind beyond consciousness which nevertheless has a strong influence upon our actions” (Barry 96). In spite of the truth that Okonkwo is not purposely conscious that all of his actions stem from a fear of becoming like his dad, these fears drive him in his consistent search for recognition of his masculinity. Related to this concept of the unconscious is that of repression, “which is the ‘forgetting’ or overlooking of unsettled disputes … or terrible previous occasions, so that they are dislodged of mindful awareness and into the realm of the unconscious” (Barry 97). The unresolved dispute that Okonkwo has with his dad in addition to the injury and embarrassment of maturing in hardship with an effeminate father have actually taken their toll on Okonkwo’s mind, and we can see its impacts throughout the novel. Okonkwo was especially affected by the existence of Ikemefuna within the people. Ikemefuna is a young man from a surrounding people that is sent out to reside in Umuofia and after that cared for by Okonkwo. He lives with them for 3 years and becomes an important part of their family and community. “He was by nature a very vibrant kid and he gradually became popular in Okonkwo’s home, specifically with the children. Okonkwo’s kid, Nwoye, who was two years more youthful, became rather inseparable from him because he seemed to understand whatever … Okonkwo never ever showed any feeling openly, unless it

Okonkwo was specifically affected by the existence of Ikemefuna within the people. Ikemefuna is a boy from a surrounding tribe that is sent out to live in Umuofia and then took care of by Okonkwo. He copes with them for three years and ends up being an integral part of their household and neighborhood. “He was by nature a very dynamic boy and he gradually ended up being popular in Okonkwo’s family, specifically with the children. Okonkwo’s kid, Nwoye, who was two years younger, ended up being quite inseparable from him due to the fact that he seemed to understand everything … Okonkwo never revealed any emotion honestly, unless it be the feeling of anger. To reveal affection signified weakness; the only thing worth showing was strength” (Achebe 18). Ikemefuna concerns represent the type of boy that Okonkwo wish to have, a younger version of himself due to the fact that he sees numerous masculine qualities in him that would make him strong and effective. Nevertheless, at the very same time, he also has a few of the characteristics that advise Okonkwo of his father, Unoka. Both Unoka and Ikemefuna “had a limitless stock of folk tales” (Achebe 20). Ikemefuna’s mixing of both what can be viewed as manly and womanly characteristics make him the perfect character, somebody that Okonkwo, automatically, wishes to be like.

After 3 years the people decides to kill Ikemefuna. Okonkwo is warned by a senior of Umuofia that he ought to not join in the murder since Ikemefuna saw him as a dad. Nevertheless, when the minute comes and Ikemefuna is struck down, he sobs out, which then drives Okonkwo “dazed with worry, [to draw] his matchet and cut him down” (Achebe 38). F. Abiola Irele specifies that “We are told that he is ‘stunned’ with fear at the minute of the boy’s attract him, but it is fear that has actually been bred in his unreflecting mind by the image of his daddy … Undoubtedly, for Okonkwo to be advised anew of his daddy’s image by Ikemefuna’s artistic endowments and dynamic temperament is to be impelled toward a violent act of repression” (Irele 471). This can likewise be thought about sublimation, another theory belonging to Freud. The repression of his feelings towards his dad and those that are more feminine, drove him to sublimate his sensations by snapping to the other severe– acting in intense masculinity instead of looking for a balance. This longing for masculinity is a vital part of the characterization of Okonkwo.

The murder of Ikemefuna not just allows us to see more into the character of Okonkwo, but also the character of his son, Nwoye and his desire to separate himself from his dad and their people. F. Abiola Irele states that “the killing of Ikemefuna represents a critical episode in the unique not just as a reflection of Okonkwo’s disrupted mental state but in its reverberation throughout the unique as an outcome of its result upon his child, Nwoye. It marks the beginning of the kids disaffection towards his father and ultimately his alienation from the community that Okonkwo has pertained to represent for him … Ikemefuna has actually come to embody for Nwoye the poetry of the tribal society, which is removed for him permanently by the young kid’s routine killing, an act against nature in which his daddy takes part” (Irele 471). The killing of Ikemefuna marks for Nwoye, an unexpected change in his life. In the unique it is described that “something seemed to give way inside him, like the snapping of a bow” (Achebe 38). Like Irele says, this is the minute where Nwoye starts to wander further away from his daddy and the culture that he thinks would have excused the murder of a young boy that he wanted to as an older sibling. Without the example of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo sees Nwoye as weak and effeminate. He informs his pal Obierika, “I have actually done my finest to make Nwoye grow into a male, however there is too much of his mom in him” (Achebe 40). Both Okonkwo and Obierika then acknowledge that he has excessive of his grandfather in him. This is another reminder to Okonkwo of his daddy, who to him is the embodiment of weak point and failure. This causes both repression and sublimation on the part of Okonkwo and Nwoye.

When the white Christian missionaries come into the tribe and start to transform people, Nwoye is one that joins him. This essentially ends up being an act of sublimation and disobedience for Nwoye, a method to turn his back on his father and the culture that betrayed him when it approved the death of Ikemefuna. His repression essentially drives him far from the culture he has actually understood his whole life and he sublimates by joining group that is entirely opposite of what his daddy worths. As part of his Christian conversion he changes his name to Isaac. Irele asserts that “the particular name [Nwoye] takes recommends an import beyond its immediate meaning of specific redemption, for the name Isaac remembers the scriptural story of the patriarch Abraham and his substitution of an animal for the sacrifice of his boy, an act that inaugurates a brand-new dispensation in which we are made to comprehend that fathers are no longer required to compromise their sons to a requiring and vengeful deity. Nwoye’s adoption of this name in result enacts a symbolic turnaround of the killing of Ikemefuna” (Irele 472).

Ultimately Okonkwo and Nwoye’s experiences with Ikemefuna drive them to repress and sublimate their feelings by alienating them from each other when Okonkwo looks for extreme masculinity and Nwoye seeks a separation from the household and tribe that he feels have betrayed him. These approaches they utilize to cope work as rhetorical approaches for defining Okonkwo and his kid Nwoye along with revealing the ways that they utilize in handling the awful and conflicting occasions of their lives.

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