Can such an important character in a story have faults? Many people look at the protagonist as the hero with no faults. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the main character shows this quality. Okonkwo portrays many faults, which leads him to his downfall.
One example of Okonkwo’s greatest faults is his pride. His own success as a self-made man makes him impatient of others who are not as successful. For example, at a meeting of the tribe’s elders, he calls another man a woman and says, “This meeting is for men.” This man who had contradicted him had no titles, and so Okonkwo felt that he was not worthy enough. However, Okonkwo had to apologize to him. This is one example of Okonkwo’s faults.
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Another fault portrayed by Okonkwo is his temper. Okonkwo is hard and stern with his family, particularly his son, Nwoye, who does not take after him. It is Okonkwo’s inner fear that he too would be a failure like his father. This makes him proud and hard. He is strict with his wives too and never shows his inner emotions. It is this that drives him to break the rules of the Week of Peace, by beating his wife when she does not send him his food as required. Breaking the rules of the week of peace is considered a sin against the Goddess of the soil, Ani. So this is both a personal error and an error against the rules of the tribe. This is another example of Okonkwo’s faults.
The last example of Okonkwo’s faults is his disrespect for women. This is shown at the New Yam festival when he almost shoots his second wife, Ekwefi. He tries this with a gun as he thinks that she has cut down his banana tree when she has only cut a few leaves. This again shows his impulsive nature and volatile temper, faults which later rebound on him. When the Oracle of the Hills and Caves orders the death of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo, in order to show his fearlessness and impartiality, strikes the final blow with his machete, even as the boy is calling him “My father, they have killed me!” Ogbuefi, the oldest man in the village had asked Okonkwo not to participate in the killing of the boy as he called him his father. By killing the boy himself Okonkwo commits his second offence against the tribal laws. This is another example of Okonkwo’s faults.
Okonkwo portrays many faults, which leads him to his downfall. At the end of the novel, when Okonkwo cannot take more of the vile behaviour of his people, it is his impulsive nature that pushes him to kill one of his messengers. Though this was a brave act, he commits suicide realizing that his family is no longer with him. This is how his faults led him to his downfall and soon death.