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Chapter 1

posted Oct 18, 2011 19:13:07 by
The reader is introduced to the protagonist, Okonkwo, in Chapter 1. What does the narrator’s description of Okonkwo reveal about the village’s definition of a “man”? How does Okonkwo align with Ibo society’s definition of masculinity? How does he align with the contemporary US definition?
[Last edited Oct 19, 2011 11:08:43]
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BRANDK02 said Oct 23, 2011 15:12:20
The narrator's description of Okonkwo reveals that the village praises physical strength and self-sufficiency, recalling how Okonkwo "had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the cat" (1). The narrator's description also defines the ideal man as a stoic and enterprising individual by highlighting Okonkwo's "very severe look" (4) as well as his lack of "patience with unsuccessful men" (4).
In the same way, Okonkwo adheres to Ibo gender roles because he demonstrates robustness, capability and providence. He may also embody Ibo Christianity's definition of man in that his polarized attitude aligns with Christianity's dualism. Just like the never-ending struggle between righteousness and evil preached by Christianity, Okonkwo fights to achieve greatness and shuns those who are unproductive.
By the contemporary US definition, Okonkwo might be seen as the ideal masculine figure except for his lack of composure. While his endurance and self-reliance resemble the ideal American, his constant readiness to fight would conflict with rigid laws regarding assault. This is not to say that American men possess better jurisdiction as much as to suggest that we believe we do. Even by the US definition of the time when the novel was published, Okonkwo's character might not have been entirely appreciated. American audiences amidst the Cold War could associate Okonkwo's intimidation tactics with the Soviet military; or even see past American patriotism and discredit our own fascist nuclear program. Perhaps this contributed to the success of the novel throughout the fear-stricken world
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