Gender Relations in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

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Gender Relations in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart 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. Among the people of this society, the condition of weakness is strongly associated with the state of being female. The worst insult that a man can receive is to be called a woman. The novel's main character, Okonkwo, is often obsessed with proving his strength as a man because he seeks to escape the reputation of his father who was considered by his fellow…show more content…
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. The division between male and female goes beyond even individual persons in Ibo society to be applied to both physical and moral acts. Certain jobs are reserved only for women whereas only men can perform other tasks. When Ezinma asks to bring a chair to her father, he forbids it because "that is a boy's job."(32) Women harvest certain crops which are not worthy of wasting the valuable time and strength of men. Crimes committed with deliberate malicious intent are classified as male in contrast to merely accidental female crimes. When Okonkwo killed a clansman, he had "committed the female [crime], because it had been inadvertent."(87) As with the majority of other male / female relations in Ibo culture, sexual relations are marked by a noticeable sense of male domination. It is the man who initiates the sexual activity while the female is supposed to appear passive and uninterested in participating in these acts. The men even mock the women's passiveness in sexual roles by a song: If I hold her hand She says, "Don't touch!" If I hold her foot She says, "Don't touch!" But when I hold her waist beads
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