Notes on Characters from Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart Major Characters

Okonkwo: Known as a courageous and wealthy man throughout his tribe, Okonkwo is a severe man who often resorts to violence to make his points understood. He hated his father, Unoka, because he was a lazy debtor. Okonkwo made it a point in his life to set himself apart from his father by being well known and wealthy as well as becoming a great warrior in the tribal conflicts of Umuofia and the surrounding villages.

Unoka: Okonkwo's father, he was a notorious slacker and debtor who preferred playing his flute to working and piled up large debts among his neighbors before his death. Unoka was a source of embarrassment for his son because of his laziness, and so Okonkwo made something of himself in reaction to his hate for his father.

Ikemefuna: A boy of a neighboring village who was chosen as a sacrifice to avoid warfare with Umuofia. Ikemefuna was left in Okonkwo's care for three years and became a part of the family. Okonkwo was very fond of the boy, and Ikemefuna took to calling Okonkwo his father. When the elders of Umuofia decided to kill Ikemefuna, Ogbuefi Ezeudu warned Okonkwo to have no part of it because the boy considered him a father.

Nwoye: Okonkwo's oldest son, child of Okonkwo's eldest wife, he was growing into a lazy boy despite his father's constant nagging and beating. Nwoye was twelve when Okonkwo came back from Mbaino with Ikemefuna and the boys grew close so when Okonkwo was among the men who killed Ikemefuna, Nwoye was pushed further away from his father. Such an act was impossible for Nwoye to understand, as was abandoning twins in the Evil Forest. Because of these questions concerning the fundamentals of their religion, Nwoye was easily converted to Christianity when the missionaries came to Mbanta. His conversion was the final separation from his father.

Obierika: Okonkwo's friend who takes care of his home for him while he's in exile and brings word of the first violent encounters of the Ibo with the white men who came to colonize the area.

Mr. Kiaga: An Ibo convert to Christianity who acts as a missionary and translator for the first six missionaries who come to Mbanta while Okonkwo and his family are in exile there. He builds a church in the Evil Forest, the land that the village elders gave him, and his church prospers despite the skepticism of the prominent men of Mbanta.

Mr. Brown: A missionary in Okonkwo's native village who tries to make the relationship between the Christians and the villagers as stable as possible despite the fanaticism of some of his converts. Mr. Brown is respected by many of the men of the tribe as well as some great spiritual leaders and he had weekly discussions with one medicine man in particular in which they discuss their respective religions, each trying to convert the other. Mr. Brown builds a small school and a hospital in the village. Eventually, because of his begging, the villagers began to send their children to school to learn to read and write so that they can have a chance to rule their own land instead of having strangers of a different race and culture running their village as the District Commissioner does.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Smith replaces Mr. Brown as the leader of the Umuofia church and encourages the fanatics to act out against the pagan tribe. He believes that such pagans have to be destroyed. Under his tutelage, a great conflict between the Okonkwo's village and the church arises.

District Commissioner: A white man sent to rule over Umuofia, he and his court messengers are corrupt officials who abuse the natives. He judges cases although he knows nothing of the people, their culture, or their customs. He is another fixture of colonization that the people of Umuofia are subjected to. He makes his court messengers trick Okonkwo and other tribe leaders into coming to the D.C. headquarters so that he can imprison them and extract a ransom from their village because they burned the Christian church. When the Commissioner comes to take Okonkwo away for the murder of a court messenger, he finds that Okonkwo has killed himself. The Commissioner is moved only to think of the peculiarities of the natives and how such interesting stories will fill the book he is writing on colonization.

Minor Characters

Amaline the Cat: A wrestler from a village near Okonkwo's home of Umuofia who was undefeated for seven years. He was called the cat because his back never touched the ground. But Okonkwo beat him, and in defeating Amaline, Okonkwo made a name for himself throughout the villages.

Nwakibie: A prosperous villager with three barns, nine wives, thirty children, and all but the greatest title in the clan. As a young man, Okonkwo went to Nwakibie to ask for seed yams so that he could begin his crops. Nwakibie had refused many young men's requests for seed yams, but he agreed to help Okonkwo because he knew that this son of a shiftless man would prosper through his determination.

Ekwefi: Okonkwo's second wife, she was the village beauty in her younger days. She is passionate about wrestling, and when she saw Okonkwo defeat Amaline the Cat, he won her heart. Ekwefi had to marry another because Okonkwo could not afford her bride price, but a few years after her marriage, she ran away from her husband to live with Okonkwo. She bore ten children, but of those ten, only Ezinma lived. The villagers believed that Ekwefi's misfortune with children was caused by an ogbanje -- a cruel child that died and re-entered the woman's womb over and over again.

Ezinma: The daughter of Okonkwo and Ekwefi, Ezinma understands her father better than her other siblings. She seems to be his favorite, and he often wishes to himself that she had been born a boy because he believes that she would have been prosperous. Ezinma is the only living child of Ekwefi although the woman bore ten children. Because of Ekwefi's misfortunes, she is frightened any time Ezinma is ill because she expects the child to die as all her other children have.

Chielo: The priestess of Agbala, the Oracle of the Hills and Caves. Chielo is a normal woman just like the other women of the village when the spirit of Agbala does not possess her. She and Ekwefi are friends, and Chielo is especially fond of Ezinma.

Ogbuefi Ezeudu: One of the oldest men in Umuofia, he came to warn Okonkwo to have no part in Ikemefuna's death because the boy considered him a father. Okonkwo went against Ezeudu's advice because he was afraid of being thought weak.

Uchende: Okonkwo's uncle on his mother's side who is an elder of Mbanta where Okonkwo and his family stay in exile for seven years. Uchende encourages Okonkwo to snap out of his depression when he first arrives in exile and then acts as a voice of reason throughout Okonkwo's time in Mbanta.

Enoch: A religious zealot hungry for conflict who unmasked a sacred egwugwu at a public ceremony and enraged Okonkwo's village. Mr. Smith protected Enoch from the tribe's wrath, but the egwugwu burned the church as punishment for Enoch's insurrection.

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