Things Fall Apart
Respect and Reputation Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
But it was really not true that Okonkwo’s palm-kernels had been cracked for him by a benevolent spirit. He had cracked them himself. Anyone who knew his grim struggle against poverty and misfortune could not say he had been lucky….At an early age he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler in all the land. That was not luck. At the most one could say that his chi or personal god was good. But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very strongly; so his chi agreed. (4.3)
Okonkwo hasn’t really benefited from luck and does not attribute his success to it. He made his own way in the world, guided only by his flaming ambition and indomitable will.
Within a short time the first two bouts were over. But the third created a big sensation even among the elders who did not usually show their excitement so openly. It was as quick as the other two, perhaps even quicker. But very few people had ever seen that kind of wrestling before. As son as the two boys closed in, one of them did something which no one could describe because it had been as quick as a flash. And the other boy was flat on his back. The crowd roared and clapped and for a while drowned the frenzied drums. Okonkwo sprang to his feet and quickly sat down again. Three young men from the victorious boy’s team ran forward, carried him shoulder high and danced through the cheering crowd. Everybody soon knew who the boy was. His name was Maduka, the son of Obierika. (6.6)
Wrestling – a show of physical prowess – is one way of gaining a strong reputation in the clan. Even Okonkwo watches the Maduka with admiration.
Okafo was swept off his feet by his supporters and carried home shoulder high. They sang his praise and the young women clapped their hands:
“Who will wrestle for our village?
Okafo will wrestle for our village.
Has he thrown a hundred men?
He has thrown four hundred men.
Has he thrown a hundred Cats?
He has thrown four hundred Cats.
Then send him word to fight for us.” (6.24)
For winning a difficult and exciting wrestling match, Okafo’s name is immortalized in song. He wins great respect and glory for his accomplishment.