Le Magicien d’Oz

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L. Frank Baum

The main protagonist of the novel, he is far from what might be called a heroic character. He is depicted as the strongest man in the village, and he is fierce and stern, but this is the extent of his extraordinary attributes. He lacks the goodness usually attributed to heroic characters. Okonkwo, in fact, has more in common with modern man, which is ironic considering that Okonkwo is a native of an “uncivilized” tribe in Nigeria. With that said, Okonkwo does carry most of the novel, introducing the reader to an exotic pre-colonial African world. He represents both the savagery of the primal world and the kind of universal drive and character common to all men. Therefore, Okonkwo is not difficult to identify with. His faults are similar to any modern man’s: He is insecure, and he is afraid of being associated with a father who failed to provide for him and his family. He distrusts the strangers who come to evangelize. He desires to be honored and respected.

Yet, it is precisely because the missionaries and the colonizers do not respect him and show him honor that he insists on fighting them with force. He is not attracted to their gentle words. He is not, for the most part, attracted to gentleness. He likens gentleness with effeminacy. In the final analysis, Okonkwo is a representative of a deep primal savagery that has more to do with the universal human condition than with his particular circumstances; after all, Okonkwo is not without a sense of honor and pride or fear and trembling.

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