Things Fall Apart Analysis

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An Examination of Femininity in Things Fall Apart In all of history, the western world has always been a patriarchy, always deeming women as inferior. In the modern day, people still hold onto the beliefs instilled in them by the patriarchy. In this past election cycle the country was unable to elect a female president, and even in the past month, men have been accused of abusing their power at high levels. The roots of sexism and misogyny go way back to the beginning of civilization, and in his novel, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe examines how gender roles impact an imperial African tribe. Achebe suggests that the Umuofia clan is highly differentiated by the strict behavioral customs of gender. Ultimately, these traditions of men being superior to women, which are very important to the Igbo culture, hold the society back. The customs are evident to the reader through the clan members’ everyday language, Ezinma not being able to be her true self, Okonkwo’s mistreatment of his wives, and women being the true leaders of their families. In the Igbo culture, everyday activities demonstrate the strict gender expectation of men and women. While planting, the coco-yams, beans, and cassava are described as “women’s crops” but the yam, the “king of crops”, is “a man’s crop” (23). The crops which are a crucial part of the Umuofian culture have gender associated names. Yam, because it is the staple of the Igbo diet, is considered to be the “king of crops”. The New Yam Festival, the Week of Peace, and many other daily celebrations are organized around the “man’s crop”. The women are still held responsible for producing their crops, which are not idolized or even appreciated. The value that the Igbo tribe places on the women’s crops allows the men to maintain the position as the primary providers in the community. The men’s work is celebrated versus the women’s that is just required. The women are also expected to honor the men’s work. During an Igbo ceremony, “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” (77). Women are not meant to “look”, not speak, or listen. They have no voice when the “men” are engaged in a

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