Things Fall Apart
Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Okonkwo never did things by halves. When his wife Ekwefi protested that two goats were sufficient for the feast he told her that it was not her affair.
“I am calling a feast because I have the wherewithal. I cannot live on the bank of a river and wash my hands with spittle. My mother’s people have been good to me and I must show my gratitude.”
And so three goats were slaughtered and a number of fowls. It was like a wedding feast. There was foo-foo and yam pottage, egusi soup and bitter-leaf soup and pots and pots of palm-wine. (19.16-18)
Okonkwo wants to gain the respect of all the Mbanta people and is too proud to offer a lowly feast. So he goes a bit overboard in order to gain a reputation as a generous and wealthy man.
He [Okonkwo] knew that he had lost his place among the nine masked spirits who administered justice in the clan. He had lost the chance to lead his warlike clan against the new religion, which, he was told, had gained ground. He had lost the years in which he might have taken the highest titles in the land. But some of these losses were not irreparable. He was determined that his return should be marked by his people. He would return with a flourish, and regain the seven wasted years. (20.2)
Okonkwo has not yet lost his ambitious spirit. Though he has suffered a great setback by living in exile for seven years, he vows to remedy his reputation upon his return to Umuofia.
Even in his first year in exile he had begun to plan for his return. The first thing he would do would be to rebuild his compound on a more magnificent scale. He would build a bigger barn than he had had before and he would build huts for two new wives. Then he would show his wealth by initiating his sons into the ozo society. Only the really great men in the clan were able to do this. Okonkwo saw clearly the high esteem in which he would be held, and he saw himself taking the highest title in the land. (20.3)
Okonkwo is so ambitious that starts planning his return to Umuofia years before he’s allowed to come back to his fatherland. He has high hopes of surrounding his name with even greater glory than he has already won. Okonkwo can increase his reputation in his home community through his family – marrying off his beautiful daughters, initiating his sons into the elite ozo society, and marrying more wives.