Things Fall Apart

how is gaining the respect of the ibo tribesman?

how is gaining the respect of the ibo tribesman?

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The follow excerpt describes the values of the Ibo tribesmen in their culture. Their culture is a simple one; to be disgraced and have no respect is the worst kind of degradation. Respect is everything.

The tribe maintains order by ancient tradition; their values and expectations have not changed. Their religion is based on superstition; nature permeated that religion and keeping the gods content insured that nature could be controlled to a certain degree.

Respect was gained by following the traditions of the tribe. Manliness was all important, emotion seen as weakness, only women were emotional.......... to be seen as having feminine traits of any kind was disgraceful.

"Okonkwo was portrayed as an average man of the Ibo clan. His values and sense of worth are based on a simple analogy. Women are weak. Men are strong. Therefore, manliness or Okonkwo's image of what he should be was based on female traits and male traits. If a man showed any emotion he was weak or feminine. Values were measured by masculine and feminine traits. Being feminine was disgraceful if one was male. Okonkwo put great emphasis on the importance of being respected and of being an important figure within the Ibo clan.

Okonkwo valued what others thought of him which stemmed from his relationship with his father. Okonkwo perceived his father as weak or feminine. His father died poor, without title or respect. He was disgraced. The disease that killed his father was most likely cancer, but the clan considered his condition an abomination to the earth goddess. Okonkwo's father was carried into the forest and left to die and decompose. His father's weakness or femininity from Okonkwo's perspective was his father's downfall. Okonkwo strived to be the opposite of his father. While still young, Okonkwo was wealthy and well respected. He had a barn full of yams, three wives and two titles. He was industrious and quote: "was indeed possessed by the fear of his father's contemptible life and shameful death"(1:18) end of quote. This was a classic example of John Locke's Tabula Rasa; people are a product of their environment. Okonwko's values and sense of self-worth stemmed from the clan's treatment of his father.

Okonkwo was portrayed as a man who was highly respected among his clan. He was a perfect representative of Ibo traditional standards. His life evolved around what he perceived other clan members to value in a man. The Ibo language even played apart in his stream of thought. For example, quote: "Okonkwo remembered how he suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title. And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved." end of Quote.(1:13)"