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.
The central theme in Achebe Chinua's novel, Things Fall Apart, is masculinity. The main character, Okonkwo has an obsession with being masculine and refuses to look weak. From the beginning of the novel, it is clear that his idea of his own self worth and his masculinity are strongly interrelated. This obsession is a result of his unsuccessful father, Unoka, who is very cowardly and fears the sight of blood. Okonkwo makes a vow at a young age to be nothing like his father so he adopts opposite ideals that his father stood for. Okonkwo has three wives and several children who he is extremely harsh and violent towards because he wants to hold a strong warrior-like reputation. He is extremely cruel to his eldest son, Nwoye, which eventually drives him into the hands of the Christian missionaries. Okonkwo is also is haunted by a fear of seeming weak. Masculinity is the theme of Achebe Chinua's
Social rank and relative wealth play great roles in determining a person’s life in Umuofia society. Sometimes a man with sheer force of will cannot change his future through hard work. One of the main conflicts in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is the clash between Okonkwo’s determination to succeed, his free will, and fate – which seems to have less appealing things in mind. Okonkwo’s will plays a major factor in determining his future; he chooses to kill Ikemefuna with his own hands, he chooses to kill a government official, and in the end, he chooses to take his own life. However, the pre-destined conditions of his life, his father’s failures, and a series of unfortunate circumstances ultimately lead to Okonkwo’s downfall.
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.
Change is a natural process that triggers the evolution of human societies; it is the continuous eradication of traditions that are replaced by the new. Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ (TFA), a novel written in 1958, explores the gradual transformation of the Ibo culture as a result of colonialism and also the attitudes the people of Umoufia developed when exposed to foreign ideologies; the change was either accepted or resisted. Peter Skrzynecki’s ‘Crossing The Red Sea’ (CRS) and ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ (FS) from the Immigrant Chronicle, a poetry collection published in 1975 depicts the evolution of the Australian society due to factors including migration, assimilation and different perceptions. These forces of change contributed to the
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
Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, has greatly impacted his views on how masculinity shapes how people perceive him in the Igbo society. Hence the reason why Okonkwo looks at masculinity as a security blanket to ensure he will never resemble his father. An example of that can be found on page 13 in the book. “Okonkwo’s fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself.
Masculinity can be defined as a set of qualities or characteristics that is found generally in men, although some women may acquire this trait in certain conditions. Some qualities that attribute to masculinity are strength, boldness, wisdom, honor, and courage. The traits of masculinity are often passed down from father to son, but in some cases fathers may not possess this trait and the son will either acquire it on his own or from another paternal figure. Two literary works that portray the theme of masculinity is “Things Fall Apart”, a novel by Chinua Achebe, and “Who Will Stop the Dark” a short story by Charles Mungoshi. Achebe uses the theme of masculinity to describe Okonkwo’s characteristics and
In the book Things Fall Apart the main character Okonkwo’s definition of gender is way more to the extreme than normal. Okonkwo believes it’s a man’s job to be the strong, brave, aggressive & independent his father reflects as a lazy, weak man. In the novel Unoka is called a agbal, which is another word for a woman or a man who isn’t manly. Okonkwo despises his father for being such a weak lazy man. Okonkwo wishes that he never become close to what his father was like.
In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is viewed as a very masculine man. His view of masculinity brings him many downfalls and causes him to do things that are not reasonable. This view relates to that of important characters in the novel because he has taken the meaning of masculinity to seriously and brings it to a whole new level. The characters who are affected by this view are Nwoye, Ekwefi, and himself. To begin with, Okonkwo's view of masculinity affects many characters in this novel and one of those characters is his son, Nwoye.
Achebe even writes that Okonkwo’s one passion was “to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved” (Achebe 11). Okonkwo even had a son named Nwoye. Okonkwo’s views on masculinity also caused a strained relationship between the two. Chinua Achebe uses Okonkwo’s own views on masculinity to depict the drastic ways a father’s actions can have on a son’s future actions and relationships.
The major theme of Things Fall Apart is the different views of Okonkwo and his clan has regarding masculinity, as well as Okonkwo who shows hubris. Okonkwo is a fierce warrior who is famous throughout his clan and known to speak out his mind freely without any ridicule. In Igbo culture, to be called a woman, is the lowest title a man can receive. A man known by no titles contradicts with what Okonkwo says during a meeting for the ancestral feast, in which Okonkwo rebukes(or challenges) the man's authority. Okonkwo utters an insult, "This meeting is for men," Okonkwo knew how to bring the man's spirit down. Okonkwo's clan perceives a man without titles, a woman and therefore do not have the right to speak out with men. While, Okonkwo sees masculinity
There are many recurring themes in the novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe; however, for the purpose of this paper a detailed analysis from a specific quote would be conducted. “The story of Okonkwo is in a way the story of our culture; he pays a price because he places too much emphasis on strength and manliness.” Strength and manliness can promote an array of translations in order to justify actions within the novel and within today’s American society. If it’s comparing an egotistical mindset of a character of this novel or certain beings that tend to portray these features, there are always certain characteristics that are consistent. It isn’t coincidental that strength is in association with manliness, however asserting these words in extreme forms of actions is far from powerful.
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