In Things Fall Apart, a novel written by Chinua Achebe set during the colonization of Africa, the Ibo society and the main character, Okonkwo, had tragic flaws leading to their downfall. The tragic flaw of the Ibo society was their irrational cultural beliefs. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw was his fear of becoming like Unoka, his poor lazy father who was known for borrowing money and never paying anyone back. Achebe interweaves the two flaws to shape the effect of the entire novel. The beginning of the downfall of the Ibo society was due to the influences of the white men and the inability to stick together as a society.
After Okonkwo had returned from his exile the Christian missionaries requested a “plot of land to build their church. ” The clan offered land in the Evil Forest assuming the missionaries would reject the offer because of the forests believed powers. This belief of an evil forest is what began the building of the church. The division of the culture could have been avoided if the village didn’t have such strange beliefs. Okonkwo was known for his personal achievements and his wealth. Achebe gives him his tragic flaw so the reader has a way to relate to him. His flaw is first seen when Unoka is called “unsuccessful. Okonkwo was “ashamed of” his father and was determined “to hate everything his father Unoka had loved. ”
When it was decided that Ikemefuna was to be killed, Okonkwo was ordered to “have nothing to do with it. ” Okonkwo was “afraid of being thought weak,” so he took out his knife and killed the boy that called him father. Okonkwo was then exiled for disobeying the orders of an elder. When his seven years of exile were over, he returned to Umuofia to find he had lost all respect from the people of his village and everything had changed. He realized the clan fell apart and had become “soft like women. He knew there was no hope for Umuofia and he was found hanging from a tree behind his compound. The downfall of the village and the death of Okonkwo are clearly linked. If Okonkwo would have returned from his exile to find the village the way he left it, he would have been happy to be back and would not have committed suicide. If Okonkwo had not feared being like his father, the village would have had less conflicts and less violence. The missionaries attempts at spreading Christianity put the village people against each other, pointing out all the things that fell apart.