Table des matières

La Chanson de Roland

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Okonkwo—The main character of the novel. He may be said to be the hero, but he is not technically a heroic character. He is, rather, a realistic depiction of a proud and action-oriented man of a native tribe in Nigeria. His overwhelming motive in life is a fear of failure, of becoming like his father. When the white men arrive, he tries to resist them, but is unsupported by the rest of the tribe. His attempt at war fails, and he hangs himself.

Unoka—Okonkwo’s father. He is a lazy but gentle man whose sole ambition in life is to relax and play music. His crops always fail, and he is eternally in debt. Still, he has friends, even though many mock him. He is a constant source of humiliation for Okonkwo, who strives to be his exact opposite. Ironically, both come to bad ends: Unoka is carried off to the Evil Forest, and Okonkwo (in an act of abomination) takes his own life.

Nwoye—Nwoye is Okonkwo’s son. He is not very much like his father, who is much too strict with him. Nwoye is drawn to the religion of the missionaries because it speaks to something better and higher in himself. He is, however, a complete disappointment to Okonkwo, who considers him womanlike. Both Nwoye and Okonkwo ultimately reject one another.

Ikemefuna—He is a boy who is sacrificed to the Umuofia clan after his tribe kills the wife of a man in Umuofia. For three years he lives with Okonkwo and becomes fast friends with Nwoye. Okonkwo himself is very fond of the boy. When the Oracle declares that it is time for the boy to be killed, however, Okonkwo does not resist cutting him down with his machete. His death haunts Okonkwo and is a great impetus in turning Nwoye away from his father.

Obierika—He is Okonkwo’s loyal friend. He watches after his yams while Okonkwo is in exile. He also visits Okonkwo while the latter is living in his motherland, and is the first one to speak of the appearance of the white man. He is the one who reveals Okonkwo’s corpse to the District Commissioner at the end of the novel.

Ekwefi—She is one of Okonkwo’s wives. She married Okonkwo after leaving her husband: She simply went to Okonkwo’s hut, and he took her to bed. She is friends with Chielo and speaks to her of family matters. It is after Okonkwo attempts to kill Ekwefi that Chielo demands the sacrifice of Ikemefuna.

Ezinma—She is Ekwefi’s only surviving daughter. Okonkwo is fond of her, too, though he does not generally show it. He often thinks to himself that she is very intelligent and that it is a shame that she is not a boy.

Uchendu—He is Okonkwo’s uncle on his mother’s side. He receives Okonkwo and his family after they are exiled for Okonkwo’s accidental killing of a clansman. He attempts to teach humility to Okonkwo.

Chielo—She is the priestess of the Oracle. She steals Ezinma away when the girl is sick and carries her to the cave, where Ekwefi and Okonkwo follow and wait. In the morning, she returns the girl to her hut. In ordinary life, she is like any other woman, but when she is possessed of the spirit, she is somewhat startling and strange.

Mr. Kiaga—He is the interpreter for the missionaries who arrive. He is mostly kind and well-meaning. He accepts the outcasts into the church.

Mr. Brown—He is one of the white missionaries who tries to make headway with the natives. He starts a school and a small hospital and attempts to understand their thoughts and customs so as better to convert them. However, he is mostly interested in boosting the church’s numbers. Eventually he leaves due to bad health.

Mr. Smith—He replaces Mr. Brown. He is sterner and less kind. He cannot stand ignorance, just like Okonkwo cannot stand laziness and effeminacy. When the clan attacks the church, Mr. Smith is only spared because the clan is beholden to the memory of his predecessor.

District Commissioner—He views himself as a kind of benevolent dictator. He tricks the leaders of Umuofia into coming to see him under pretenses of a negotiation, and then he locks them up and does not release them until a fine has been paid. Upon viewing Okonkwo’s corpse, he reflects that he will have to include the man in his book, which is about civilizing the natives. It is an ironic thought, since he himself is only pretending to be civilized.

Enoch—He is one of the converts to the church. He tries to provoke the clan during one of their ceremonies. It is his provocation that compels Okonkwo and the others to attack the church—for which they are later arrested.

Egonwanne—He is the town crier mentioned toward the end of the novel. Okonkwo cannot tolerate him because he sees him as womanlike and believes he will try to convince the clan not to fight against the white men.

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