Growing up in an environment where one’s parents and society restrict the behavior of that individual, can be a very challenging situation to be in. This was so for Nwoye. Raised in the Igbo culture, social order was said to demand conformity. It was a culture where he was forced to act a certain way, or be punished by his father Okonkwo, which wasn’t a type of lifestyle Nwoye would want to be living all his life. The book, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe uses Nwoye to exemplify the outcomes in a relationship, of a father forcing masculine and cultural tradition values his son, Nwoye. Although, Nwoye’s curiosity on the Igbo culture and will to become the person that he wants to be, comes before him even if it calls for going against …show more content…
Likewise, men like Okonkwo feared the word agbala, as it “was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken to title” (13). Having no titles or women-like traits in a man was especially a poignant insult to Okonkwo. Due to Okonkwo’s drive to avoid having the poor traits found from his father Unoka, like an unmanly and weakened character, Okonkwo especially forces it upon himself and his children, specifically Nwoye, to act in line and uphold a masculine character. However, this was hard for Nwoye as he always possessed a more feminine character on the inside.
When it came to hearing stories, “Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mothers used to tell” (53). Acknowledging that “his father wanted wanted him to be a man” Nwoye tried his best to portray a masculine character, as shown by the way “ [Nwoye] feigned that he no longer cared for women 's stories”(54). By doing so, “...[Nwoye] saw that his father no longer rebuked him or beat him” (54). Clearly, Nwoye realizes the conformed way boys like him should be acting but his true self that is unlike most of the other men, gets entangled with the way he was “supposed” to act. The outcome of the way Nwoye’s father has expected him to grow up as, contradicting with the genuine character of Nwoye, created an entanglement in Nwoye’s head on which self he would choose to represent
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Okonkwo’s oldest son, Nwoye, has to achieve high expectations, to be just like his father. If he falls short of Okonkwo’s near perfection, he will face consequence usually in the form of physical harm. Okonkwo wants Nwoye to be strong, powerful, independent, and hard-working. He must be like is father, and not like his grandfather, Unoka, or his mother. Unoka was an absolute failure in Okonkwo’s eyes, and a terrible father, who did nothing to help the family. Okonkwo is a man and wants his son to be a man too, not womanly like his mother. Okonkwo wanted “his son to be a great farmer and a great man” (33). Okonkwo is “worried about Nwoye....my children do not resemble me...too much of his mother in him” (66). Okonkwo knows that Nwoye resembles more of his mother than him, but also knows that he resembles Unoka too. Both fathers want their sons to be just like them, but do little to ask what they want in life, and neither father will budge on what they want for their sons.
Nwoye, Okonkwo’s oldest son, causes him great concern because Okonkwo sees him as lazy. He sees Nwoye as inadequate to his standards of how a son should be and Achebe illustrates this early on in the novel, “At any rate, that was how it looked to his father, and he sought to correct that by constant nagging and beating. And so Nwoye was developing into a sad-faced youth,” (10). Okonkwo is so critical of his son’s behavior that he even beats and criticizes Nwoye because he does not like his father’s masculine stories of violence and gore as much as he likes the stories his mother tells him, stories that are more “female-oriented” in Okonkwo’s eyes. Nwoye seeks his father’s approval so much that he pretends to like the stories his father tells him. As Achebe states, “...he knew that his father wanted him to be a man. And so he feigned that he no longer cared for women’s stories. And when he did this he saw that his father was pleased, and no longer rebuked him or beat him,” (38).
Who are you? Have you ever wondered where you get your identity; what exactly defines you as a person? The obstacles in our lives shape us people, Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart illustrates the circumstances one man and his son face in an Ibo village in Nigeria. Okonkwo, the protagonist/antagonist has a tragic flaw, the fear of weakness which ultimately causes him to expect more from his son, Nwoye who never falls short in disappointing him. The relationship between the two is not the most desired seeing that they both do not show the affection most father-son relationships do. Traditionally, most sons follow their father's footsteps, however, this is not the case for both
Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart illustrates the circumstances one man and his son face in an Ibo village in Nigeria. Okonkwo, the protagonist/antagonist has a tragic flaw, the fear of weakness which ultimately causes him to expect more from his son, Nwoye who never falls short in disappointing him. The relationship between the two is not the most desired seeing that they both do not show the affection most father-son relationships do. Traditionally, most son’s follow their father’s footsteps, however, this was not the case for both Nwoye and Okonkwo. Each of the identified much differently from their fathers meaning that they never backed down regardless of the other believes. Due to the outcome of Nwoye and Okonkwo’s childhood and
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
One quotation that expresses Okonkwo’s view of manliness states Okonkwo “was always happy when he heard [Nwoye] grumbling about women. That showed that in time he would be able to control his womenfolk” (53). This quotation shows that Oknonkwo feels pleasure when his son displays signs of power, such as the control of the perceived weaker gender. Ergo, Okonkwo views the subordination of others by his son as an example of “masculinity.” This idea is further supported by the quotation: “No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children… he was not really a man” (53). Oknonkwo clearly considers utter authority of one’s nuclear family as a prerequisite to meet “manhood.” He literally states that a man without patriarchy in his family is not a man. Therefore, when Nwoye displays the early signs of this dominance, like the grumbling about his subordinate women’s issues, Okonkwo is finally considering his son “masculine” as shown by his happiness.
In addition, it is an insult to a man or boy if they possess any female qualities. Guilt ridden after murdering Ikemefuna, his surrogate son, Okonkwo sternly reprimands himself not to “become like a shivering old woman” – this he considers the worst insult (65). Okonkwo also relates negatively to his oldest son Nwoye, who according to Okonkwo possess weak qualities and thus acts like a woman. He wanted Nwoye to listen to “masculine stories of violence and bloodshed” rather than the stories told by women which were for “foolish women and children” (54). The stories that men told were about bravery and war and young men were expected to listen to this instead of fairy tales that women told. “So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land” – while Nwoye feigned that he liked the stories his father told him to make him a man, he preferred his mother’s that he heard while growing up that kept his spirit gentle.
He often "wish[es] she [Ezinma] were a boy."(122) For his son, "he wanted Nwoye to grow into a tough young man capable of ruling his... household." (37) The failure of his son to live up to Okonkwo's expectations for him are another factor in Okonkwo's own innate need to be exceptionally masculine.
Another aspect of male relationship aside from his father is Okonkwo’s relation with his son Nwoye. Okonkwo fears that his son will turn out like his father Unoka: lazy, weak, debtor and hold no title. Nwoye serves as an opposite to being masculine as describe by his father. “Okonkwo was popularly called the Roaring Flame... How then could he have begotten a son like Nwoye, degenerate and effeminate? Perhaps he was not his son… But Nwoye resembled his grandfather, Unoka, who was Okonkwo's father…. How could he have begotten a woman for a son?”4. Okonkwo compares himself to fire, a symbol of masculinity. Okonkwo is extremely frustrated with Nwoye because he is not fire-like as him. He is so frustrated that he thinks his wife slept with another man and that Nwoye is not his son. After Okonkwo’s exile, Nwoye took this chance to follow his own path and
Agreed upon by almost all of Umofia, participating in storytelling that did not depict violence and bloodshed was considered an event for women. When a man, or even a boy, was seen telling or listening to stories that were not about violence, they were automatically depicted as weak, and that they were not at all manly. “That was the kind of story that Nwoye loved. But he knew that they were for foolish women and children, and his father wanted him to be a man. Nwoye is a perfect example of this, Nwoye is very lazy, he has no motivation, and that is seen as not at all manly. When Nwoye is seen listening to feminine stories, it is not a surprise to anybody, because he was already seen as feminine. It was disappointing to his father Okonkwo though, because Okonkwo’s biggest fear was being seen as weak and feminine by others, and he wanted his son to be like
Okonkwo thought of himself as masculine, not feminine. He tried everything he needed to to not become just like his father. When he put that as his priority. He started to provide for his family materially and lovingly. He also became heroic. As a result of everything that he did, he became very wealthy, hold a high-ranked and trusted position in his community, has 3 wives. He also presented himself as strong as a warrior and also a
This perception leads the characters to decisions and changes in their lifestyle in order to avoid others to believe that they had “become a woman indeed” (Achebe 65). This is based on the belief passed down from one generation to another of men that once they were old enough they should demonstrate masculinity because “his father wanted him to become a man” and in order to do this he must forget all attitudes that “were for foolish women” (Achebe 54). One of the reasons why men would be shamed and called a woman would be because they possessed no titles, land or wives. Men who own a vast amount of land and many wives and are able to pay their bride-price are considered successful. The marriages in the ibo culture are negotiations, in which like in other circumstances the compensation is a woman. During these agreements between men, the women’s opinions are not taken into consideration. These customs build up on the main character’s frustration after being exiled from his fatherland to his motherland, and the fear of being considered by others less of a man. This same fear is the one which previously leads Okonkwo to kill a young boy who was sent to give with him and whom he came to care for in his “show of manliness” (Achebe 66). The culture and traditions in the ibo society perpetuate the image of women as
The only thing he (Okonkwo) fears most is not ending up like his father, Unoka. However, Achebe ‘‘makes an insightful comment on the nature of masculinity through his representation of the tribal leaders. Achebe basically, was conducive in creating four alter egos of Okonkwo: one of which were the masculinity; next of his fatherly abilities; and the last of his family progress and four of his likelihood of success’’ (Achebe.179). My paper will explain how Okonkwo’s Masculinity from Achebe’s Things Fall Apart will be characterized by his fears, beliefs, and emotions for several reasons.
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