Okonkwo's Psychological Struggles: a Deep Dive into "Things Fall Apart"

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About this sample


Words: 530 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 530|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1
  3. Body Paragraph 2
  4. Body Paragraph 3


Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart offers a profound exploration of the psychological landscape of its protagonist, Okonkwo. Set in pre-colonial Nigeria, the story delves into the complexities of Okonkwo’s psyche, exposing the intricate web of motivations, fears, and societal pressures that drive his actions. This essay aims to analyze Okonkwo’s psychological profile, examining how his internal conflicts, cultural expectations, and personal ambitions shape his character and ultimately lead to his tragic downfall.

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Body Paragraph 1

At the core of Okonkwo’s psychological makeup is his profound fear of failure and weakness. This fear is deeply rooted in his disdain for his father, Unoka, who is perceived as lazy and unsuccessful. Okonkwo’s childhood was marked by shame and a desperate desire to distance himself from his father’s legacy. This psychological burden manifests in an obsession with strength and success. Okonkwo's drive to become a prominent and respected figure in his community is a direct response to his internalized fear of being associated with his father’s perceived inadequacies. This obsession, however, leads to a rigid and often tyrannical demeanor, alienating those around him and setting the stage for his eventual isolation.

Body Paragraph 2

Furthermore, Okonkwo’s psychological turmoil is exacerbated by the cultural and societal expectations of masculinity in his Igbo community. The Igbo society in Things Fall Apart places a high value on traditional masculine traits such as physical strength, bravery, and stoicism. Okonkwo internalizes these values to an extreme degree, fearing that any deviation from these norms would be seen as weakness. This results in a hyper-masculine persona, where any show of emotion, except anger, is suppressed. His interactions with his family, particularly his son Nwoye, are marked by a lack of empathy and understanding, as Okonkwo equates emotional expression with weakness. This emotional repression not only strains familial relationships but also contributes to Okonkwo’s inability to adapt to changing circumstances, both within his family and in the broader context of colonial encroachment.

Body Paragraph 3

Okonkwo’s psychological conflict reaches its zenith with the arrival of European colonizers. The traditional Igbo society, which provided a framework for Okonkwo’s identity, begins to disintegrate under colonial pressure. This external disruption forces Okonkwo to confront the limits of his rigid worldview. His inability to reconcile with the new social order creates a profound sense of dislocation and helplessness. Okonkwo’s final act of defiance, his suicide, is a culmination of his psychological crisis. Unable to adapt or fight against the inevitable change, Okonkwo chooses death over a life that contradicts his deeply held beliefs and values. His suicide, while a final assertion of control, is also a tragic acknowledgment of his ultimate powerlessness.


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In conclusion, Okonkwo’s psychological profile in Things Fall Apart is a complex interplay of personal fears, cultural expectations, and external pressures. His fear of weakness, rigid adherence to traditional masculinity, and inability to adapt to change drive his narrative arc and underscore his tragic end. Achebe’s portrayal of Okonkwo serves as a poignant exploration of the human psyche, illustrating how internal and external forces can shape, and ultimately unravel, an individual’s identity. Through Okonkwo, Achebe not only tells the story of a man but also provides a broader commentary on the psychological impact of societal and cultural upheaval.

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Okonkwo’s Psychological Struggles: A Deep Dive into “Things Fall Apart”. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“Okonkwo’s Psychological Struggles: A Deep Dive into “Things Fall Apart”.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Okonkwo’s Psychological Struggles: A Deep Dive into “Things Fall Apart”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Okonkwo’s Psychological Struggles: A Deep Dive into “Things Fall Apart” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from:
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