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With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife. But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father’s lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father’s contemptible life and shameful death. (3.9)
Okonkwo has a relentless drive improve his reputation. He’s completely a self-made man.
[Nwakibie]: “Many young men have come to me to ask for yams but I have refused because I knew they would just dump them in the earth and leave them to be choked by weeds…But I can trust you. I know it as I look at you…I shall give you twice four hundred yams. Go ahead and prepare your farm.” (3.26)
Nwakibie respects Okonkwo for his dedication to hard work. Okonkwo’s reputation precedes him and wins him Nwakibie’s trust.
[…] he was struck, as most people were, by Okonkwo’s brusqueness in dealing with less successful men. Only a week ago a man had contradicted him at a kindred meeting which they held to discuss the next ancestral feast. Without looking at the man Okonkwo had said. “This meeting is for men.” The man who had contradicted him had no titles. That was why he had called him a woman. Okonkwo knew how to kill a man’s spirit. (4.1)
Okonkwo’s strong reputation and respect in the community has made him a bit fatheaded. He has an aura of arrogance and has little pity for those less fortunate or competent than himself.