I find myself caught up in the story. The style reminds me of a folk tale in the way it is written. And while I doubt we will spend a ton of time engaging in close readings of passages from this book, it is already bringing up some major ideas/themes in my mind.
The most important piece that I noticed in these first five chapters is that Achebe is setting up a pretty classical tragedy. Okonkow is our tragic figure. He is a perfect example of a traditional Greek tragic hero:
- Tragic hero comes from a noble bloodline
- with Okonkwo and this whole civilization the noble bloodline really comes more from the titles that are held by the men. Okonkwo doesn't have a noble family, in fact his father is far from "noble." But, Okonkwo has made a name for himself in the village and is respected.
- Tragic hero has a tragic flaw or Hamartia
- I think this is pretty obvious with what Achebe is setting us up with in the first five chapters. Okonkwo has a problem with anger and violence, and that is going to come back to bite him in the butt. Achebe is laying some major foreshadowing in these first chapters. Okonkwo is going to fall because he does something violent. I mean we already see him get in trouble because he beat his wife during the week of peace. The elders of the village had to punish him and they usually give harsher punishments, but Okonkwo got off easy. It is going to happen, Okonkwo's violence and anger will be his downfall.
- Makes a major mistake
- Undergoes a major change
- Suffers a downfall
Some of these things remain to be seen, but Achebe has done a great job setting this character up for those who are reader's of classical literature. This is the modern African tragic hero. As you continue reading this novel keep an eye out for these other elements of a classic tragic hero.