How he deals with Change: Shrugs it off. Went back to his usual life (Went away to tap his afternoon palm-wine) without any regard of what had occurred. Does not care about the new religion nor the white missionaries at all. This shows of his disregard and ignorance of the threat that it could potentially pose to Umuofia. To Okonkwo, the white missionaries are of complete inexistence and are not worth his effort which hints of Okonkwo’s self centeredness. He discards all concern of the new religion and does
not pay attention to them anymore after dismissing them.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of Change: People changing their religion to being Christians
How he deals with Change: In the story, Okonkwo deals with this change by being violent as he kills one of the white men that is in his view, trying to take over the whole village by spreading their religion of Christianity. He finds their religion illogical as it is different from what he believes in. To make the the village realise their mistake in believing the white men, he tries every way to persuade them from going into Christianity and to his last resort, he killed the one of the white men.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
How he deals with the change: Unable to accept and admit it, resorts to violence and suicide.
Okonkwo is unable to deal with the change that has happened in Umuofia, his own homeland, which he actually thought of as a manly clan. At the end of chapter twenty-one, it was stated that, “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had unaccountably become so soft like women.” It shows that in his perspective, everyone has changed to become so weak, and womenlike, which he despises. However, he does not self reflect on how he has changed to become someone so stubborn and blind that he finds fault at others without looking at himself. In this chapter, it is shown that he strongly believes that the failure of a grand return to his homeland is because of the Christian missionaries’ invasion into the Igbo tribe. Yet, it is not the case. He does not think whether it is his long exile of seven years that the people of Umuofia has long forgotten him. It is stated in the beginning of chapter twenty that “Seven years was a long time to be away from one’s clan. A man’s place was not always there, waiting for him. As soon as he left, someone else rose and filled it. The clan was like a lizard, if it lost its tail it soon grew another.” It shows that no matter how powerful a clan leader was, such as Okonkwo, he cannot rule the clan if he is somewhere far away, not to mention seven years. Also, he was unable to admit that the Christian missionaries were gaining strength in Mbanta, when he knew that Nwoye was to join the Christians, he blew his top and almost killed him. In the seventeenth chapter, when Nwoye when into Okonkwo’s obi to salute him, he strangled Nwoye, and beat him heavily with a stick that he had laid on the dwarf floor. In the twenty-third chapter, it was stated that Okonkwo said that the six men could have killed the white man if they had listened to him, and when the messenger heard it, he hit each man six blows on the head and the back, but Okonkwo did not retaliate, and suppressed his anger. With reference to the fourth chapter, where he had hit Ojiugo heavily despite it was the week of peace, it shows that he is unable to deal with the fact that he has to obey the Christians’ order instead of doing what he wants to do and will usually do, like kill the messenger. He probably vented his anger on killing the messenger later in the book in chapter twenty-four by using his matchet. It was shown that his action was in fact, unnecessary, “He heard voices asking, “Why did he do it?”In addition, at the end of the book, his sudden suicide was because he could to take the fact that Umuofia was changing into a village that was leaning toward Christianity as its religion, and they were, to him, becoming weaker and more womenlike, which he despised. It was however, only him, that felt this way, as he had fallen to the bottom, unlike those days when he was highly regarded. He finally realized that for a man to fail alone, is the worst feeling, and it was from his father, someone he had hated since young, and Okonkwo himself could no longer bear it, and committed suicide to end his misery.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of Change: Forced to leave tribe
How he deals with Change: Frustrated, as he wanted to become a powerful and successful man in the tribe, yet he is being exiled.His exile also upsets him because it forces him to spend time in a “womanly” place. He remains unwilling to admit that he has a 'feminine' side. He is also bitter and resentful, as he feels a sense of despondency, and that his 'bright future' is gone. He is afriad that he will become like his father, Unoka, with no achievements and was poor. He regards being powerless as 'unmanly'. Okonkwo works on his new farm and house, but with less enthusiasm than he had when he was in his own tribe.
How he deals with Change:
Initially, under the influence of Ikemefuna, Nwoye was eager to please Okonkwo. He wanted to show Okonkwo that he was manly and masculine. This can be seen in Chapter 7 when Nwoye would sit with Okonkwo in the obi. He would listen to Okonkwo as he told masculine stories of violence and bloodshed. Although he preferred the stories that his mother used to tell, those of life and morals, he hid it from Okonkwo as he wanted to make his father proud. He would also feign annoyance and grumble aloud about women and their troubles. As he knew that was what his father wanted to hear. Nwoye at that time knew that it was right to be masculine and violent. Thus even though he disagreed, he kept it to himself.
Nwoye was faced with Change when the Christian missionaries came to Mbanta, where Nwoye was staying, to try to convert the villages to their faith. Nwoye accepted the change. To him, this was an outlet to his initial believes. The Christian faith gave him a new alternative for his initial believes of masculinity and violence. He welcomes the Change and does not resist it. As he had always kept his true feelings to himself, converting gave him a way to truly be able to express his believes without being mocked by the villagers.
However, Nwoye still feared Okonkwo, hence his Change was gradual. He dared not go too near to the missionaries for fear of his father’s wrath and temper. But he still welcomed the Change. As such, he would go and listen to the missionaries’ stories from afar. After welcoming and accepting the Change, he finally made a commitment to the Change.
The commitment that Nwoye made to Change was to disobey Okonkwo’s wishes. When Nwoye returned home one day, Okonkwo flew into a rage as he suspected Nwoye of going to the missionaries. He was even going to choke Nwoye. At that time, Nwoye finally gathered up the courage to make his feelings known to Okonkwo. He left Okonkwo. The act of him leaving was his commitment to his new believes. His father symbolized the beliefs of the villagers, that men were masculine and violent. By leaving, Nwoye showed that he disagreed with those believes, thus Changing.
In conclusion, Nwoye Changed when he fully accepted the Christian believes and left his father. The reason about his Change was most likely due to his feelings accumulated over the years. He disagreed with his father’s ideas of masculinity and violence, but had not dared to make his feelings known, thus going with the village’s and his father’s believes. However, the Christian missionaries who had been consistent in actively believing in their beliefs and going against the villagers’ traditional believes gave inspiration and motivation to Nwoye. He saw that it was okay for him to be like the Christian missionaries. The missionaries gave him a chance to finally be himself and believe in what he would like to believe in. hence, Nwoye accepts and commits himself to Change.
character discussed: Nwoye
instance of change: He was puzzled by the appearance of the missionaries and their religion,and soon became one of them. (whole of chapter 16)
how he deals with change: (chapters 16 and 17)
Unlike Okonkwo, Nwoye changes gradually, until the point when Okonkwo hits him. He changes by degree, and does not show it openly to his family or friends,so it is not obvious. Nwoye first started showing signs of change when Ikemefuna was killed by his father, as "something seemed to give way inside of him, like the snapping of a tightened bow." (page 54) Nwoye's change is also mostly internal, in terms of his thoughts and feelings, and he seldom expresses it through his actions, unlike his father. This is why even when he became one of the missionaries, none of his family or friends knew about it until Obierika spotted him among them.
When the white man and his followers first appeared, Nwoye was curious, and wanted to find out more about these people and their religion. He is open to change, and is willing to understand it first, before deciding whether to accept it or reject it. This is unlike Okonkwo, who immediately deems the white man and his followers as mad men, and their religion as a disease that will tear their tribe apart.
Because he was curious, Nwoye often went and listened to them preach whenever he had the chance. He listened to them so many times that he even knew some of the simple stories they told. When Mr Kiaga announced that they had built a church and wanted the people to come in and worship God, Nwoye went. However, he contemplated whether or not to enter as he paced outside the doors of the church. Here, he shows clear signs that he is confused by the change. He wants to accept the white man's religion but is afraid of betraying his own religion and his father. In the end, he gives in to his fear and returns home. Note that Nwoye is so afraid of Okonkwo punishing him that he does all these behind Okonkwo's back.
When he returns home, Okonkwo has found out about what his son has been doing behind his back, and he is so consumed with anger that he proceeds to strangle his son, before he even confirms that what his cousin told him was true. He demands to know where Nwoye has been, probably to assure himself that his son was not with the christians, however Nwoye cannot even breathe, much less speak. This leads to Okonkwo hitting him with a stick.
When his father stopped hitting him because of Uchendu's command, Nwoye walked away from home and made up his mind once and for all, to accept the change the white man had brought and become one of them by joining their school and being educated by them. Nwoye has changed, and become a young boy that does what he believes is best for him, without the fear of his father's disapproval. He is no longer the boy that only does things that are "manly" to impress his father and gain his approval. Christianity provided an opportunity for Nwoye to break free from his father's shadow and finally live the way he wants and be respected for it. This new religion welcomed all and there was no discrimination against anyone, not even the outcasts of the tribe, much less Nwoye,who was considered "womanly". Nwoye had found a place where he could do as he wished and not be mocked for being "womanly", where he could be himself. Thus, Nwoye took the chance that this change gave him, and he left his home where he was constantly chided for being "womanly", and joined their school.
Nwoye initially rejected the change for fear of his father's disapproval, but in the end, he accepted it and became a part of it despite his father's violent objection. He joined the Christians because they accepted him for who he truly was, something he knew his father would never be able to do.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of Change: The gathering where the members of the tribe discussed about the Christians being too much.
How he deals with Change: He makes his own decision beforehand before he attends the gathering. He was determined to get his way no matter what. Hence, when the whites (Christians) came to stop the gathering, he beheaded the man. He rejects the change. When he does, he would do anything to get his point across, especially by action. He is a man who is hard on himself and would rather action than talk. Just like what he had said at the gathering ground, ‘men are no more’. This line shows his discontentment to the change the way the tribe dealt with controversial issues. He preferred how the tribe had dealt with things in the past, getting head on into a battle and showing their power through violence.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of Change: when Okonkwo killed Ezeudu’s son (pg 109)
How he deals with Change: Okonkwo had given up. After Okonkwo fled from the clan, he went to his mother’s kinsmen for shelter. Okonkwo well received by his mother’s kinsmen. Yet, he refused to tell them the reason why he was exiled. It took him a day for him to bring forth the truth to his mother’s kinsmen. This shows that Okonkwo was still in denial that he had been exiled. He had turned from a successful lord of his clan to an exile just because he accidentally killed a boy. He was in self-denial of the truth and therefore angry at the world for treating him badly. It is observed that Okonkwo took many lives in his lifetime. Earlier in the story, Okonkwo had killed Ikemefuna, a boy whom he eventually grew fond of and loved. Ikemefuna was a good boy. Yet, he was killed by Okonkwo who held on to his pride and did not want to be thought weak. It is also observed that he was not punished for this as it was his god’s wish. This time, he had killed a boy whom he was not close to at all. This time, it caused him to be exiled. This time, his killing had affected his life in a way he hated. It is funny how Okonkwo could be condemned for killing a boy he did not know and not be exiled for killing a boy he loved. It was ironic as this was also the only life he took and paid dearly for doing so. When Okonkwo had gone to Mbanta, he had lost all his vigour of building a reputation for himself. Without his clan, he felt like a broken man. All his life, he had believed in his strength and power, and depended on those to become successful. Now that he’s older, he no longer had the strength to work hard again. Okonkwo had given up too easily. It can be inferred from the story that Okonkwo had not worked hard during his stay in Mbanta. Sure, he did harvest and farm, but he did not work hard. He, in a way, had a very annoying mindset that he could not achieve anything when not in his clan, Umuofia. Okonkwo thus gave up after Ezeudu’s son’s death.
Instance of change: When he is starting out his exile in his motherland
How he deals with change: He is unable to accept the fact that the clan exiled him and to him it was like starting a new life anew without vigor and enthusiasm of youth. Work no longer appealed as much to him and when there was no work, he sat in a silent half-sleep. He lost his goal in life, which was to become one of the lords of the clan. He was very close to his goal when he was exiled from the clan and he fell into despair as he thought that his “chi” was not meant to do great things. He quickly falls in to despair due to the fact that he sees his life as empty and hollow, without purpose. He thinks that his chi is saying no despite the fact that he is saying yes. He is unable to understand his fate in life and why he must end up exiled from his own clan instead of striving forward to achieve his goals
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of Change: Nwoye joins the Christians.
How he deals with Change:
When Okonkwo had heard of Nwoye being among the Christians, he had been overcome with fury. He could not accept the fact that Nwoye had joined the Christians. As soon as Nwoye returned home, Okonkwo had responded violently and lashed out at Nwoye. He strangled Nwoye, had beaten Nwoye with a heavy stick and threatened to kill Nwoye. Okonkwo then allows Nwoye to leave home.
Why he acted that way:
I personally feel that Okonkwo had acted this way as he had been shocked by Nwoye joining the Christians. He never would have expected that Nwoye would go against his beliefs against the Christians and he felt betrayed by his own son. Feeling enraged, Okonkwo had acted instinctively and was rash to attack Nwoye, hoping that he would be able to beat some sense into Nwoye. Okonkwo did not understand that his son had different views from him. He thought that the Christians were mad and crazy. However, Nwoye saw Christianity differently, he had been captivated by the new religion.
It seemed that Okonkwo had also been disappointed in Nwoye. He had hoped that Nwoye would understand and respect his view on the Christians. He wanted Nwoye to grow up to be more like him, a famous man in Umuofia, instead of ending up resembling his good for nothing father, Unoka. He may have beaten Nwoye to hide his disappointment, thinking that emotions would make him seem weak. However, as Okonkwo sighed repeatedly when he thought about Nwoye, it showed how disappointed he really was.
Nwoye left the house and went back to the church to tell Mr. Kiaga that he had decided to go to Umuofia, never to return to Okonkwo. Okonkwo's and Nwoye's relationship had been ruined by this. Nwoye, who had once looked up to and had always wanted to please Okonkwo, now turned his back on Okonkwo and had even told Obierika that "He is not my father." Okonkwo was also very disappointed with Nwoye. He had thought that Nwoye resembled his father, Unoka, who Okonkwo despised. It seems that Okonkwo felt that Nwoye was an embarrassment, feeling that he had begotten a woman for a son, and did not want to speak of Nwoye with Obierika.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of change: Okonkwo cannot adapt to the change of Ikemefuna’s death. After he returns home, Okonkwo eats nothing and drinks palm wine for days and nights on end, until “his eyes were red and fierce like the eyes of a rat when it was caught by the tail and dashed against the floor.” He cannot stop thinking about Ikemefuna, and there is no work to distract him, because this is a period of rest before the next planting season. Okonkwo must have noticed the change in his don, Nwoye: something inside him had given way, “like the snapping of a tightened bow”. Okonkwo knows and feels he had done something terribly wrong. In a crucial moment, his fears had dominated his obligations to his tribe, his family, and Ikemefuna. Okonkwo’s depression suggests he understood the gravity of his situation.
In the months after he killed Ikemefuna, Oknokwo shows signs of compassion and care, even tenderness. For example when his daughter becomes very ill, he prepares her medicine and makes sure she takes it. When his daughter is carried away late one night by the priestess of the Oracle of the Cave, her mother follows the priestess, and okonkwo follows them all. He meets his wife outside the cave, and tears of gratitude fill her eyes when Okonkwo appears. They stand there together, outside the cave, for the rest of the night, until their daughter is freed.
Soon after, Okonkwo and the other village elders gather for a funeral. At the height of the ceremony, with drums beating furiously and guns firing in the air, Okonkwo’s weapon explodes and a piece of the metal kills a young man. Banishment for seven years is the penalty for killing a clansman by accident. Okonkwo now has seven long years to reflect on his life. He spends his days farming and his nights feeling sorry for himself. Okonkwo’s entire world is now in a flux, but he remains inflexibly himself. His rigidity contrasts sharply with almost everyone else in his new village and in Umuofia. They have the courage to confront and consider the new ways of living and the changes surrounding them. Some, like Nwoye, choose new paths in life, others adopt new practices and others affirm their original beliefs. Okonkwo remains stuck. His moral code is fixed; if anything, his self-pity isolation, and anger entrench his values and principles more deeply. While all is swirling around him, Okonkwo holds to a fixed view: the traditional ways are the true ways, those who think differently are wrong and weak, and his strength and tenacity will see him through.
Character discussed: Okonkwo
Instance of Change: Being exiled to his motherland, Mbanta
How he deals with Change: When Okonkwo know that his entire family was to be sent to Mbanta to live for a whole seven years he was devastated. It was going to be a change in lifestyle, status and people."but it was like the beginning life anew". He has to adapt and everything has to start from scratch, building houses, working, making friends, gaining a reputation and one who had everything but lost everything just like Okonkwo, was extremely bitter about it. and towards this change in his life, how did he choose to deal with it?"without the vigour and enthusiasm of youth, like learning to become left-handed in old age" Okonkwo could not accept the sad truth that he was no longer in control, powerful and superior in his clan and that such a misery has come down on him. he refuses to to accepts it and can no longer find a NEW motivation to start from the bottom and climb his way up. he has lost his hope and his belief that when "a man said yes his chi says yes also". Instead, he now has a negative thinking that "his chi was not meant for great things". people choose to believe what they want to believe and Okonkwo chose to believe that life in Mbanta could never be as incredible as life in Umuofia, the manliness and glory he feels when he fights and the booming reputation he once had as a strong fighter, "this was a womanly clan, he thought. Such a thing could never happen in his fatherland, Umuofia". And his beliefs lead to his actions which is "Work no longer had for him the pleasure it used to have, and when there was no work to do he sat in a silent half-sleep". he decides to live his life, day by day and just do the bare necessary to keep alive and lead a normal life there. He kept away his aspirations, his burning passion to be "lord of the clan" was gone. he had no hope for his future, he did things not to his best like last time but just in a slipshod way for he had nothing to look forward to. he wallowed in self pity throughout too. "you think you are the greatest sufferer in the world", this is what Uchendu had said to Okonkwo. Okonkwo did not pick himself up from where he was, he gave up on himself without even trying to start anew. he was stubborn and had a fixed mindset that it was unfair that this happeneed to him when many other worse things happen to ther people too. his situation is not the worst of all, yet there are some who are able to stay positive and make the best out of what they have but he is not one of them. he chooses to stay at the bottom thinking :"why must this happen to ME out of all people? why not others?" and never thinking of " i should not give up because my situation is temporary, it is only when i give up that is becomes permanent". therefore, he did not climb up again.