What you pass down (and what you don’t).

The exploration of the relationships between parents and children seems to play a central role in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo lost his mother at a young age and he grew up regarding his father as a failure, both as a man and therefore in life. He looked to his father, Unoka, as an example of how not to behave and this clearly influences how he interacts with his children and partners; “Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives… lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children” (4). His oldest son, Nwoye, however is already displaying attributes that Okonkwo associates with his father and therefore abhors especially an “incipient laziness” (4). I would argue from this small portion of the book that the author is setting up a cycle where a parent (Unoka) behaves a way that drives their child (Okonkwo) to “hate everything that his father… had loved” (4) and therefore act the opposite way when they are grown, however that extreme behavior alienates their child (Nwoye) who might grow up to live to try and be the opposite of his father. Do you see the author making this point? How do you factor in the role of the mother in this, does it change the dynamic? As Uchendu comments “when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in it’s mother’s hut” (44) does the presence of a mother or another parent have an effect on this pattern? I think it is important to consider since one difference between the generations is that Okonkwo lost his mother as a boy but Nwoye still has his.

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