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Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart - Women's Role in the Ibo Society

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Women's Role in the Ibo Society

In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, women of the Ibo tribe are terribly mistreated, and viewed as weak and receive little or no respect outside of their role as a mother. Tradition dictates their role in life. These women are courageous and obedient. These women are nurturers above all and they are everything but weak.

A main character in the novel, Okonkwo has several wives. He orders them around like dogs. They are never to question what they are instructed to do; they are expected to be obedient. We see this early in the story, when Okonkwo brings Ikemefuna into his home. Okonkwo tells his senior wife that Ikemefuna belongs to the tribe and that she is
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In spite of pleas from his other wives, reminding him that it is forbidden to beat your wife during the Week of Peace. Okonkwo will face consequences, not for beating another human being, but only because of his timing. He beats his second wife when she refers to him as one of those "guns that never shot". When a severe case of wife beating comes before the egwugwu, he finds in favor of the wife, but at the end of the trial a man wonders, "why such a trifle should come before the egwugwu"(pg.83). The husband considers his wife property. He either wants his wife back or his bride price.

The omniscient narrator acknowledges a near-invisibility of women in Things Fall Apart. Describing a communal ceremony, he confesses, "It was clear from the way the crowd stood that the ceremony was for men. There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe like outsiders"(pg.77). They are not invited to stay when men are engaged in any discussion; they are not included in council of war; they do not form part of the masquerades representing the judiciary and ancestral spirits. Okonkwo views women AS weak and foolish. He has a different expectation for men and women. This can be clearly SEEN by the way that he raises his children. He tries his best to train Nwoye to be strong and brave while he feels sorry that Ezinma is a girl. Okonkwo knows that "Ezinma has the right spirit", but he does not try to make her TOO be brave or TOO strong. He favors her the most out
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