Things Fall Apart

Traits of Influence 12th Grade

The novels Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Moby Dick by Herman Melville feature two uniquely different characters who similarly strive for fulfillment amidst uncertainty and danger, completely devoid of moral qualms about extremities taken in pursuit of this. At face-value, the two seem to be paving distinct paths as tribal leader Okonkwo of Things Fall Apart craves dominance and respect among his people while Captain Ahab of Moby Dick demands revenge for his lost leg; however, upon examining their backgrounds, behaviors, and thoughts that ultimately contribute to their outcomes, they surprisingly share more commonalities than not. As their stories unfold, Okonkwo and Ahab cultivate destruction from their own turmoils and obsessions, eventually succumbing to the overpowering nature of their own traits as they welcome its dominance over their lives.

Despite the fact that Okonkwo and Ahab’s exact intentions differ, parallels are seen when comparing the development of their characters. Growing up, Okonkwo had been denied a proper father-figure by his tribe’s standards, having been raised by a “failure” (Achebe 9) of a father instead— a shameless beggar, but one who loved his son. This sincerity, contradicted by his father’s...

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