Things Fall Apart

by: Chinua Achebe

Nwoye

Nwoye, Okonkwo’s oldest son, struggles in the shadow of his powerful, successful, and demanding father. His interests are different from Okonkwo’s and resemble more closely those of Unoka, his grandfather. He undergoes many beatings, at a loss for how to please his father, until the arrival of Ikemefuna, who becomes like an older brother and teaches him a gentler form of successful masculinity. As a result, Okonkwo backs off, and Nwoye even starts to win his grudging approval. Nwoye remains conflicted, however: though he makes a show of scorning feminine things in order to please his father, he misses his mother’s stories.

With the unconscionable murder of Ikemefuna, however, Nwoye retreats into himself and finds himself forever changed. His reluctance to accept Okonkwo’s masculine values turns into pure embitterment toward him and his ways. When missionaries come to Mbanta, Nwoye’s hope and faith are reawakened, and he eventually joins forces with them. Although Okonkwo curses his lot for having borne so “effeminate” a son and disowns Nwoye, Nwoye appears to have found peace at last in leaving the oppressive atmosphere of his father’s tyranny.


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