Okonkwo's Suicide: Do Things Really Fall Apart

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In his article entitled “Okonkwo’s Suicide as an Affirmative Act: Do Things Really Fall Apart?” Alan R. Friesen discusses and analyzes Okonkwo’s suicide as an act of martyrdom in the form of resistance against colonialism as opposed to a selfish act of defeat. Friesen’s main argument is that Okonkwo’s suicide and its interpretation is solely dependent on fate. Friesen raises the question of whether or not Okonkwo had control of his destiny, despite all of his good attributes and his main role in Umuofia. However, Friesen highlights that the Igbo people believe in chi, which is a personal god that is solely responsible for the fate of its follower and also takes into account its follower’s desires in life. With this in mind, this concept reinforces…show more content…
Friesen believes that Achebe’s readers are meant to interpret Okonkwo’s chi as heroic. He then lists examples, such as Okonkwo’s first season as a farmer, his fight with the Cat and rises to be a well-respected member of Umuofia. The first incident that begins Okonkwo’s undoing is when he participates in Ikemefuna’s death. Many critics, according to Friesen, believe that when Okonkwo disobeyed the Oracle and murdered Ikemefuna, he disobeyed the ancestors and the gods and therefore killed his chi. Friesen, on the other hand, argues that Okonkwo acted not out of brutality, but purely out of caring. If Okonkwo were to defend Ikemefuna, his fate would have only been postponed and the Oracle’s concerning the death of Ikemefuna would have not been fulfilled, thus betraying the…show more content…
In the article, he states “if we consider Okonkwo’s suicide to be a positivity rather than an act of defeat, then in a sense Igbo culture lives on; perhaps things do not fall apart after all” (Friesen). From what we have covered and discussed in class, we have learned that Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart to educate the overall populace about African culture, to shed light on what the world deems as “savagery.” Achebe teaches that the Igbo people are not only different from Europeans, but also have an established and unique culture and rich history. When Okonkwo returns to Umuofia and discovers that his tribe has changed so much, this saddens him. As a prominent figure in the Igbo tribe before his exile, I feel that Okonkwo had no choice but to commit suicide in order to emphasize the downfall of the Igbo

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