This book takes place in two Igbo villages, Iguedo and Mbanta, in Nigeria, with no specific time span, but the time period is the late 1800s. This time period is important because it shows the effects the Europeans trying to change the Igbo culture has on Okonkwo.
The beginning of the story introduces us to Igbo traditions immediately, as well as Okonkwo, who is determined to succeed despite the legacy of his father, Unoka, who really wasn’t much of a father. The whole story solely focuses on the struggles the Igbo clans, and specifically Okonkwo, go through while the British try to change their culture. Tensions begin to rise, causing Enoch to unmask an egwugwu, thus, “killing the spirit”. This leads to the egwugwu burning down the Christian church. Due to this, many Igbo clan members are thrown into jail, they eventually get out of jail, with their minds set to take a violet approach against the British and white missionaries. During a speech the following morning, five court messengers enter the meeting, demanding the meeting ends, this leads to the climax of Okonkwo murdering the messengers’ leader. The crowd erupts, but the British messengers are able to get out unharmed, ending the meeting. The leader of the Brits shows up to the home of Okonkwo, finding some Igbo men outside.
He asks for Okonkwo twice, the men telling him both times that he is not home at the moment. The leader threatens to throw the men into jail if he doesn’t agree to take him to Okonkwo, the men then agree and take the man to a bush behind his home, to find Okonkwo hung from a tree, an act of suicide.We don’t know who the narrator is, but the story is told from a third person omniscient poinof view. I believe there is an emotional distance between the narrator and Okonkwo because some of the language he uses suggests how important Okonkwo is to his clan and shows the narrator cares about him.The protagonist in this book is Okonkwo, a buff, African wrestler and Umuofian leader. He is very determined, strong, and driven to succeed, mainly because of how he wants to be the exact opposite from what his father was to him. I believe the antagonist in this story isn’t the Brits, but Okonkwo’s father, Unoka.
Unoka wasn’t given a physical description, but he was described as a man who loved music. Despite this great attribute, he was also described as a man who was a lazy coward who couldn’t provide for him family and died in debt and with no title to his name. I consider him the antagonist because Okonkwo has been ashamed of his father his own life and he makes it very clear that whatever he does, he just doesn’t want to be known as anything his father was known as. An important secondary character is Mr. Brown. He was a white missionary in Umuofia. He was a man who tried to create compromise between Umuofians and the Brits without using violence.
He used non-violent techniques to try and bring peace between the two groups, he was very understanding and reasonable.The symbol I found most significant was an event, it’s when Okonkwo kills himself. I believe this symbolizes the cowardly part of Okonkwo being revealed.
This is proof that Okonkwo can’t completely be the opposite of his father that he wishes to be. I also think the locusts represent the British coming into Umuofian villages and thriving off of their land and resources available to them. My final symbol is the egwugwu. They represent how seriously the Igbo culture is taken. Whenever the egwugwu becomes unmasked, it outrages the people of Igbo, of course, leading to the burning of the church.
The most significant theme to me is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid your family’s past. This is also directly related to Okonkwo’s suicide. He wanted to be nothing like his father, but he couldn’t avoid the cowardly side of him.I would not recommend this book to a friend. It just wasn’t too interesting to me and I had a hard time understanding some of the cultural aspects of it.