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Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, from Umuofia to Mbaino. (1.1)
Okonkwo gains respect for himself and his village by proving his mettle in a physical contest – wrestling.
[…] during this time Okonkwo’s fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan […]. He had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists. He had no patience with unsuccessful men. (1.3)
Okonkwo equates reputation with physical prowess and courage. He is so proud of his own reputation that he cannot stand less successful men. Though he is a highly ranked man in his village, you can’t help but wonder if such an aggressive and prideful man merits the good reputation he has.
Okoye […] was not a failure like Unoka. He had a large barn full of yams and he had three wives. And now he was going to take the Idemili title, the third highest in the land. (1.12)
One way of gaining others’ respect is through possession of material goods like barns, many yams, and even multiple wives. Gaining a title, a sign of honor from the clan, is one of the highest forms of mutual respect a man can earn.