Things Fall Apart: Okonkwo


Okonkwo, the main character of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. And
Charles Foster Kane of Orson Welles Citizen Kane, both have value systems that
are incongruous with their cultures. Thus allowing them to be defeated by
society. These are two men with a great need for recognition. Their need for
something that was extinguished long ago. Okonkwos struggle to prove his
greatness in the face of those who knew his father. Charles Foster Kane\'s void
that must be filled. The relentless pursuit of respect, power. Okonkwo must
conquer the image of weakness inside him and his fear of powerlessness. Both
characters feel that their material possessions can earn them the respect they
"deserve". Charles Foster Kane is in search for something more simple than
respect, he seeks his life. The path that should have been followed was
dramatically altered, and his life took a completely new direction. " I could
have been a great man" he explains, if he only had the chance. The pride of
these men who have no faults in their own minds, but struggle to erase the
faults they know others can find. This essay will convey the value systems of
each character in their culture and the cinematic and literary techniques used
to magnify their presence in the works.

Charles foster Kane was a child that was very fond of his mother, as seen
in the first scene of the young characters life. Charles\' father did not seem to
have any attachment to his son. Appearing quite ignorant, we can detect the lack
of a father figure in Charles\' life. This first scene is recounted in the
journal of Mr. Thatcher. The man that took the young boy away, and sent him to
live in schools around the world. For the rest of his academic life. In this
scene the protagonist receives a gift from Mr. Thatcher wishing him a merry
Christmas. And cuts directly to a happy new year, some ten years later.
Suggesting conveniently, the lack of a meaningful childhood. This editing
technique carries the viewer quickly through time, to the beginning of Charles\'
idealism. The films plot is separated into flashbacks of the important people in
Kane\'s life. Each flashback is in sequence with the events of his life. The
nature of each flashback is consistent with the narrators opinion. The first
flashback is that of Mr. Thatcher\'s. He was the only person involved in Charles\'
pre-adult life. Although not greatly involved, his presence is purely in the
area of financial aspects. Bernstein\'s flashback focuses on a very positive and
successful part of Kane\'s life. Which is concordant to Bernstein\'s idolization
of Charles. Jed Leiland\'s flashback is centered on Kane\'s downfall, and so on.
Throughout these recollections we slowly gather evidence with which to judge
Kane. This evidence along with the cinematic techniques used, create a perfectly
clear perception of the character\'s inner conflicts. The first occurrence
Charles\' selfish pride is depicted in a group of cuts with his new wife Emily.
The first shot is of Emily being complimented by the charming young Kane. The
lighting in the seen is focused on her and she looks quite beautiful. In the
shots that follow, we observe as their marriage slowly dissolves. In the last
shot of the scene, they are sitting at opposite sides of the table, Emily
reading the chronicle in very casual attire. This scene is the beginning of
Charles\' eventual failure. His reactions are so vague we begin to wonder is it
his egotism or does he really not care. He then decides to run for governor of
the state. He tries to be as big as the man in the picture behind him, he
struggles to be what he fears he cannot. Kane is then blackmailed by his
opponent, and given two options. Once again Kane displays his pride and self-
centeredness by choosing to stay with his mistress. He embarrasses himself, his
wife and child, and Susan Alexander. Kane\'s decision is one which is seen as
very unusual according to the culture in the film. However he feels that he can
use Susan the "singer" to relinquish his public appearance. Charles has a great
need to fulfill a void in his life. There are many more occurrences in the film
that support our judgments of Charles Foster Kane. He forces Susan to become a
singer, even though she does not want to be, or has not enough talent to be. To
the point of her attempted suicide. He even goes as far as physically assaulting
her. This is