Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart portrays Africa, especially the Igbo society, during the pre- and post-European imperial era. This novel is about the tragic fall of Okonkwo, the protagonist, and the Igbo culture. Okonkwo is a strong and highly respected leader in the Igbo community of Umuofia. Things Fall Apart examines the demolition of African culture by the appearance of the white man in terms of the destruction of the connections between individuals and their society. Achebe also explains the role of women in this pre-colonial Nigerian community. The position of women in the novel is not respected or honored because they are not treated equally to men; they are overlooked, beat, and oppressed.
Historically, women have been viewed as inferior to men due to a female's lack of physical strength. In the candid novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe clearly defines gender roles; women are the caretakers and cooks- simply existing to satisfy men’s desires. Although “Things Fall Apart portrays the women as weak ,inferior, and being put in their place by men; however, Achebe also notes their importance during several parts of the story. By incorporating powerful dialogues and scenes to develop gender conflicts, Achebe uses the completely divergent character of Okonkwo, who constantly strives to achieve manliness to demonstrate that although women in the Igbo society are important, they are not treated as such. Chinua Achebe, the author suggests that there is a constant conflict which exists between the two genders and the expectations of the roles in which each of them must play.
The novel also explores the negative impact that inequality has on the lives of Nigerians. Characters experience both gender inequality and inequality between different classes of society. In the story ‘Tomorrow Is Too Far’ the author highlights that how her grandmamma treats her and brother differently. Her grandmamma taught her brother Nonso how to pluck the coconuts but not her. Because ‘girls never plucked coconuts’. Nonso was always given the first sip of coconuts and grandmamma cooked meals with him in mind, not his sister. Nonso’s sister was told instead ‘this is how you will take care of your husband one day’. And also her mother used to end her brother’s nightly goodnight ‘ho-ho-ho’ laughing, but never left her room laughing. That’s all because Nonso is grandmama’s ‘sons only son, who would carry on the Nnabuisi’ name. This demonstrates that the importance of name and that these beliefs lead to gender inequality. The author also shows the negative impact of gender inequality.
In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, the Ibo people's patriarchal society has a strict system of behavioral customs according to gender. These customs strongly restrict the freedom of Ibo women and help to reinforce generation after generation the notion that Ibo men are superior to the women of their tribe.
Women are often thought of as the weaker, more vulnerable of the two sexes. Thus, women’s roles in literature are often subdued and subordinate. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, women are repressed by an entrenched structure of the social repression. Women suffer great losses in this novel but, also in certain circumstances, hold tremendous power. Achebe provides progressively changing attitudes towards women’s role. At first glance, the women in Things Fall Apart may seem to be an oppressed group with little power and this characterization is true to some extent. However, this characterization of Igbo women reveals itself to be prematurely simplistic as well as limiting, once
Gender roles played a crucial part to the understanding of the people of Umuofia; especially to Okonkwo. But just as in today’s world, one person of a group cannot define the entire group, it was the same back then, which further proves how the District Commissioner’s view of Umuofia would not represent the entire clan, let alone Africa as a whole. Okonkwo’s motivation behind his views of patriarchy stem from his father Unoka; he wanted to be such a great man of the tribe, unlike his “agbala” of a father. Okonkwo’s son “[n]woye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell, and which she no doubt still told to her younger children…but he now knew that they were for foolish women
The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, originally written in his native language Ibo, tells the tragic tale of an African pre-Christian tribe seen through the eyes of Okonkwo. Okonkwo became a very successful clan leader in his village, by working hard and refusing to be lazy like his father Unoka. Achebe uses irony to encourage character development, drive the contrast between Okonkwo’s dreams and his reality as others see him, and explain the culture’s beliefs in the way they treat women vs. the way women are revered.
Preconceived ideas about one’s culture often arises from stereotypes passed down from generation to generation. It is those stereotypes which shape one’s way of thinking, without being educated properly. In the novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, misunderstood culture is what drives the story of a small African clan called the Umuofia and the life story of Okonkwo, a fearless warrior and farmer. An in-depth look into pre-colonial African culture helps the reader discover and understand an unbiased point of view of a world one may not understand. In doing so, Achebe uses imagery as well as strong narration to describe the cultural norms and activities that the Nigerian tribe undergoes in everyday life. Through this he offers a nonbiased point of view, and communicates and accurate picture of pre-colonial African culture to a western reader.
Things Fall Apart is a literary novel written and published by Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, or Chinua Achebe, in the 1959. Chinua was born on November 16, 1930 into a Nigerian village named Ogidi. Things Fall Apart is based in Nigeria around the year 1890. The book addresses topics including, “Nigeria’s white colonial government and the traditional culture of the indigenous Igbo people” (SparkNotes Editors). The book also contains several controversial topics involving, Christian missionaries being labeled, “foolish”, the subject matter of death and suicide, and the physical and verbal abuse that the women received. Chinua well portrays the “macho” and chiefly attitude of the African men in the Ibo society. But the question is, how exactly are women treated within the society? The well respected Okonkwo is a prime example on exactly how men treated women during this time period.
In pre-colonial African societies, women were for the most part shackled to the lives of their husbands. In traditional patrilineal societies, women could not own land, only being able to engage in agricultural practices through the use of a husband’s property or that of a male relative. Women rarely held positions of authority in their communities. The author Chinua Achebe, in his seminal novel “Things Fall Apart,” depicts pre-colonial African communal society as chiefly patriarchal. The leadership positions within, the society were exclusively held by males. Feminine characteristics were seen as weak, while those traits affiliated with masculinity were held in high esteem. In Achebe’s work the only path women had for advancing their secondary status in the community was in positions of religious and spiritual leadership (Achebe, p. 12). The writings of author Aje-Ori Agbese largely support this depiction of women in pre-colonial Africa, stating that “The African belief in a spiritual
Things Fall Apart tells the story of Okonkwo, a tribal African yam farmer, through trials and tribulations that change both him and his tribe. The Umuofia clan values traits such as strength, confidence, crop success, and honor. Okonkwo exemplifies everything that the clan wants in a man, and he was well aware of it. He thrives on being the antithesis of the image of his father, Unoka, who was viewed as considerably more feminine and generally a failure because of his failed harvests and love of the flute. Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, is also considerably more feminine, and therefore lesser, in the eyes of his father. Okonkwo compensated for the failure in his blood line by putting on a front of hyper-masculine fervor; something that leads him down many troublesome roads. While Things Fall Apart is a tale of many things, Okonkwo’s struggle with femininity causes many of the major conflicts the story. Okonkwo’s learned opposition to feminine traits causes him to project machismo in order to cover up for the underlying feminine qualities that he has and is fearful of.
In the novel, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe the Igbo tradition revolves around structured gender role. Everything essential of Igbo life is based on their gender, which throughout the novel it shows the role of women and the position they hold, from their role in the family household, also planting women crops, to bearing children. Although the women were claimed to be weaker and seemed to be treated as objects, in the Igbo culture the women still provided qualities that make them worthy.
Okonkwo illustrates the use of gender roles and lack of feminism in his daughter, Ezinma and his regret of her being a girl (Achebe 137). Okonkwo’s desire for his daughter to be a man is problematic and represents the patriarch’s refusal to view women as equal to men. Throughout Ezinma’s life time, Okonkwo expresses his desires for Ezinma to be born a boy ( Achebe 137). He explictly states to himself that he, “wishes she were a boy,” because she “understands him perfectly” (Achebe 136). Okonkwo expands on this desire as he continue to express how Ezinma is his favorite among the daughters and that she understands the ways of his consciousness and his moods (Achebe 137) . Although these expressions are subtle, Okonkwo’s regret of Ezinma’s gender plays a role in the patriarchal induced gender roles that women are socially lesser than men. Society’s standards
The way in which the women of the Igbo village are presented, by Achebe, make it seem as if they serve very little purpose to the society. The main character, Okonkwo, is infatuated with making sure he does not turn out to be like his father. By living in a village where manliness was crucial and weakness was not, Okonkwo viewed his father as being a weak and cowardly mean because he could barely support his family. To make sure he did not become an adult that resembled his father, he developed the characteristics of being brave, wealthy and even violent. Since he acquired these traits, it gave him a sense of superiority over his wives and the other women of the village. Perhaps because of Okonkwo’s behavior, the women of the village are treated with less respect. It is portrayed by Achebe that the women of the Igbo village only purpose is looking after the children and helping their husbands when or if it is needed. Although the women of the Igbo village are described as being insignificant, the women are the people that fill in the gaps in the society. For example, the women are the ones that cook, clean, take care of everyone, help harvest and grow food, as well as all the other everyday tasks that are easily overlooked.
The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a commanding account about the rise and fall of an African tribe. The powerful narrative depicts the life and customs of the people and how they change through the years. Theere are many different ideas and characters that are preseneted throughout the novel. The depiction of women is one aspect that is of extreme relevance. It can be shown through several passages in the novel that the women are actually the unseen power behind the mighty Umofian tribe.