ALICE SEKYERE OBENG
CLASSIFYING OKWONKWO IN “THINGS FALL APART” AND NANAYAA IN “ IN THE CHEST OF A WOMAN” AS TRAGIC HEROE AND HEROIN RESPECTIVELY, WITH REFERENCE TO THE BOOKS.
In every story or novel, there is both a protagonist and antagonist ,the protagonist could either be a tragic hero, a hero, or a heroine among others .In things fall apart which was written by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian, there is a tragic hero who is okwonkwo, the story weaves itself around him till the end and tells of how he and his people lived without the white man, when he came and after he came and also tells of how Okwonkwo forced to fight change which eventually lead to his death. With “in the ...view middle of the document...
It was due to the greatness he had achieved that it was he was sent to Mbaino as a messenger of either peace or war (chapter 2) after a daughter of Umuofia was killed, and also allowed that poor lad to stay in his home.
As for Nanayaa, she needn’t attain nobility as she was from birth a princess, a daughter of a queen.
Secondly, their downfall is usually due to their excessive pride. In “Things fall apart”, okwonkwo doesn’t fall because he hangs himself, but due to the pride he had as an ex warrior. In chapter 24, when he killed the messenger from the high commissioner he was exhibiting his pride as an ex warrior but realizes no one follows suit as he even heard someone ask “why did he do it”. He then goes home and hangs himself as he knew if he didn’t it will definitely be the white man, whom he so much hated will.
While “In the chest of a woman”, Nanayaa’s downfall was due to the fact that her pride wouldn’t allow her to succumb to her younger brother but rather retain (chapter 1 )where she exhibits pride in front of her dying mother. It is the same pride that makes her kill all those who knew about the true identity of her son, eventually it is pride that kills her as she could have told the truth when ‘Owusu’ was accused falsely, but chose death instead in the final leg, page 84.
Thirdly, the sufferings of the tragic hero and heroine must not be senseless, it must have meaning, with Okwonkwo, his death, although was seen as shameless, also has a strong meaning to Africans and individuals to accept change and also control tempers. As it was his uncontrolled temper that made him kill that messenger in chapter 24, leading to his death in chapter 25.even after his death he is still seen as a great man and can be seen in chapter 25 where his great friend Obierika said to the white man “that man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia .you drove him to kill himself and now he will be buried like a dog” that meant even in his death, he held a symbolic identity.
With Nanayaa also, her death and sufferings encouraged individuals not to be selfish as it was through her selfish desires to either be queen or a mother of a queen that led to the hiding of “Owusu’s” identity which almost cost her life in the last and final leg, and also cost the lives of those she killed to maintain that secret in the 1st leg. Her death also gives meaning for the need for women to be empowered and not only seen as helpers, and for men to stop undermining the ability of a woman. She leaves you wondering after her death whether or not it was right for her not to be queen in the first place as truly, her birthright was taken away.
Then again, tragic heroes...