The influence impacted on the by Unoka on his son Okonkwo and subsequently by Okonkwo on Nwoye play a huge part in the character of each of the generations. Their actions and decisions bring forth a series of related events. Unoka the father to Okonkwo is depicted as a lazy man who led a miserable life of borrowing from others. This saddens Okonkwo since he had nothing to inherit...Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men usually had. He did not inherit a barn from his father. There was no barn to inherit. (Achebe,1). However Okonkwo does not let this break him but strives to ensure he leads a different and better life this is exemplified by the words that made it worse in Okonkwo's case was that he had to support his mother and two sisters from his meager harvest. And supporting his mother also meant supporting his father as the author portrays. And so at a very early age when he was striving desperately to build a barn through share-cropping Okonkwo was also fending for his father's house.( Achebe ,28).
Okonkwo dreads the thought of failure since he has witnessed how this can result in shame and unhappiness. This makes him determined to transform his life for the best and become the source of admiration of the whole village. "His fame rested on personal achievements.
As a young man of eighteen Onkonwo had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat...Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water."( Achebe ,1) His father Unoka was a lazy man and died in heavy debt which is what made him hate to end up like his father. This fear of failure makes him work hard in his farm and even borrows yam seed which he repays promptly without delay. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father (Achebe,13). Okonkwo takes on a disciplined and focused attitude in ensuring he becomes successful and not like his poor lazy father.
Okonkwo as a father however, does not consider intellect in some of the decisions he makes. He takes on an irrational attitude and ends up criticizing some of the characteristics his son seems to depict. The arrival of the white men makes this even more serious and ends in his demise. The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart. (Achebe ,126-7) Okonkwo acts without reflecting on the consequences that would follow. His frequent criticism of how his son Nwoye behaves makes Nwoye act in disdain and ends up rebelling against him and taking up the white mans ways. Okonkwo attitude could have been the result of how he saw his father weakness and lack of initiative bring disgrace to his homestead making him act and speak without carefully analyzing his decisions.
Nwoye's rocky relationship with his father Okonkwo makes him assertive in his beliefs and principles. His father's constant threats draw him away and Nwoye lacks the courage and eagerness to emulate his father. Okonkwo threatens Nwoye...If you split another yam of this size, I shall break your jaw( Achebe ,5). Okonkwo expresses his disappointment in Nwoye's lack of masculinity and criticizes his sensitivity to issues. This emanates from Okonkwos dislike for Unokas laziness and cowardly reputation. Okonkwo fears and loathes the thought of Nwoye following in his grandfather's footsteps. Okonkwo at a point appreciates Ikemefunas influence on his son but this is short lived due to the demise of Ikemefuna. Consequently, Nwoye then reverts to his less masculine and sensitive personality as he loses a crucial guide and mentor in life.
It is evident that Okonkwo takes on a selfish attitude, considering how he expects much from his son Nwoye. Okonkwo is aggressive in his pursuit of respect and prides himself in being the first man to bring back a head in a war. He shows this when he drinks from the skull during village celebrations. Okonkwo does not have the interests of his son at heart but rather pressures Nwoye to follow his path. This is very inconsiderate since Nwoye is his own man and deserves a chance to pursue his own dreams.
We can strongly conclude that the influence of a father on his son is very strong and determines the way a young man grows up. In some instances, the father may cause the son to strive for achievement and work extremely hard as in Okonkwo's case as regards his father. However, an overbearing father is a negative influence on any son and this inspires rebellion even in a a son who is by nature polite.
Achebe, C. (1958). A Man Of The People. William Heinemann Ltd.
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