In exploring the notion of the individual versus the self, we should notice that in Achebe s Things Fall Apart, a community is very important to the survival of the tribe and the people often work together for the betterment of the tribe. There are also individual aspects in the Ibo society. Each person has his own chi, or personal god.
Present in Okonkwo’s household were the expectations of masculinity that Okonkwo held for his son, Nwoye. In his mind, men and women are two different extremes; men being stronger, tougher and more controlling, while women are meek, thoughtless and easily dominated. In keeping with the Ibo view of female nature, the tribe allowed wife beating. The novel describes two instances when Okonkwo beats his second wife, once when she did not come home to make his meal. He beat her severely and was punished but only because he beat her during the Week of Peace. He beat her again when she referred to him as one of those guns that never shot. When a severe case of wife beating comes before the egwugwu, he found in favor of the wife, but at the end of the trial one of the elders wondered, I don’t know why such a trifle should come before the egwugwu. The husband considers his wife as a property.
His uncle, Uchendu, noticing Okonkwo’s distress, explains how Okonkwo should view his exile: A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. A man has both joy and sorrow in his life and when the bad times come his mother is always there to comfort him. Thus comes the saying Mother is Supreme. Possibly, Umuofia’s degrading treatment of women and wives comes from unconscious fear of, rather than reverence for, the unpredictable. The ending reveals that Okonko had not achieved his goals, but instead, by the end of his life, he had become a failure like his father.
The essay El laberinto de la soledad: Vida y pensamiento de M xico; (The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico, attempts to explain his relationship to the Mexican way of life, in part by exploring the contradiction between the Mexican mask and the historic roots of native Mexican culture.
In his poetry, he used a flow of surrealistic imagery in dealing with metaphysical questions. His most important theme was man’s ability to overcome his existential solitude through erotic love and artistic creativity. The Labyrinth of Solitude , looks at the eternal question of Mexican identity.