As a lizard sheds its tail…

I was struck by the notion of Umuofia (the village) as the protagonist, and one who both helps and puts to ruin the male warrior, Okonkwo. This is the development of a relationship that grows and bursts into a tragic sorrow of disconnection, fear, and betrayal…


At the start, he was supported by her. She followed him, and this reinforced his strength.

On the first page of the novel, we learn that the male figure is respected in nine local villages and “even beyond.” After throwing the Cat his fame had only “grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan.”

But as time passed the relationship tumbled, with Okonkwo being challenged by this greater being.

“Umuofia has decided to kill [Ikemefuna]” (57), his beloved son.

Rather than following the direction placed before him by an elder warrior Ezeudu (to not kill the boy), he went with the influential swarm of emotion coming from his village.

“Dazed with fear,” he oblidged to follow the demand for the boy’s death, even though he knew it was not right.

When Ezeudu the elder passed, by a twist of fate Okonkwo was rejected by the village, setting the relationship on a different path.

“The only course open” for Okonkwo was to leave, but those that made up the village “had no hatred in their hearts against” him.  

But he would never forget her, and longed for years to return, bitter that he was not who he could have been.

Okonkwo feels that “he would have climbed to the utmost heights” with Umuafia, (162) but does she feel the same?

He felt barely noticed by her. “A man’s place was not always there, waiting for him.” (171)

When he returned she had changed – grown weak in his eyes – and their relationship was not as strong.

Umuofia was “barely recognizable” to him (183).

When tested, his efforts to represent and protect her were not supported, and she questioned him.

“He heard voices saying, ‘Why did he do it?’” (205)

At that moment he knew he could not live to watch her turn her back on him.

{If you have not read the ending, I won’t spoil it!}

The village, when seen as Okonkwo’s greatest love who betrays him, reinforces the novel as a tragedy. Okonkwo makes the mistake of living for this greater force, or the idea of it, and loses touch with his true self, and what his home has become. The village changes around him, as he remains static, and stuck in his ways of action and anger. Would there be a different outcome, had he stayed in the village for those lost seven years?


Posted on September 4, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on As a lizard sheds its tail….

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