Ibo is an ancient culture.  According to the introduction archeologists suggest that is over 2000 years old.  Many of its cultural aspects are unique.  An example I find particularly intriguing is its view on family.  In some other ancient cultures, such as Hindi culture, children are considered a reflection of their parents.  This novel suggests that this is not the case in Nigeria, or at least the village the story is set in.  The narrator tells us that the children are not judged by their parents deeds and can be disadvantaged by their parents in the initial stages of their adulthood only in the economic sense.  This community’s traditional view is what the West would term “democratic” (although much of western civilization did not adopt this view until centuries after the Ibos had been practicing it).  Prestige is not born into in this community but achieved by earning titles that allows the men to move up in ranks of status.

Because of this custom, the village was not bigoted against Okonkwo for being the son of a lazy, titleless farmer.  Okonkwo wins much respect for himself for being a strong fighter (both in the wrestling arena and at war) and a steady farmer.  It has been openly and repeatedly acknowledged that he does not reflect his father.  Yet Okonkwo is not satisfied or at peace.  His success seems to be fueled by continuous anger and hatred at his long deceased father.  This resentment springs from his fear of being like his father.  Where does this fear come from?  We already noted that it cannot come from external pressure or judgment within his community, for they view him with admiration.  This fear must generate from irrational, internal pressure.  Being his father’s son, he cannot help but see his father in him.  This is one source of his perpetual rage and “heavy handedness” towards his own sons.

Since this fear comes from internal pressure and appears to be innate rather than taught, it can be argued that the idea that we reflect our parents (and, perhaps even the desire not to) is not an abstract construct society has taught, but a part of the universal collective unconscious.


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