The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe discusses the rise of an Igbo chieftain who came from great poverty to power and the eventual loss of Igbo traditions, rites, and the influence of his clan through his eyes due to western imperialism and colonialism. The intended audience for this novel is very broad, but if we tried to define it would primarily be people who have not experienced the Igbo culture and westerners or people who speak English. In this essay I will be focusing on the last six chapters: chapters 20 to 25. These chapters highlight the loss of power and customs of the Igbo people who have succumb to colonial rule. I fell Achebe is rhetorically effective and
Okonkwo and Walter may or may not have achieved it, but while their eyes are fixated on their end goals for success and what they are gaining, they overlook their losses. Because of Okonkwo’s fear of being regarded weak, he often acts overly aggressive to demonstrate his masculinity. Examples of his acting aggressive and cruel fills the entire novel. The first incident is his beating of his wife Ojiugo during the week of peace. No violence is permitted during this week, but Okonkwo breaks the laws only to establish his dominance in the house. Afterall, he cannot be “like the man in the song who had ten and one wives and not enough soup for his foo-foo” (Achebe 57). This incident is an indication of Okonkwo’s disregard for tribal laws because of how less they weigh than his masculinity does in his heart. After already losing respect for the Igbo cultures and customs, Okonkwo continues on losing a dear son. Ikemefuna is captured from
1. In traditional Ibo culture, women are not treated as equals and are equivalent to possessions. In a family, the children always belong to the father, not the mother. “I have even heard that in some tribes a man’s children belong to his wife and her family” (74). Okonkwo appears appalled to this blasphemy. It is common and ideal for a husband to possess multiple wives, and men beat their wives for even the smallest infractions. During the Week of Peace, the goddess forbids wife beating, such as when Okonkwo beat Ojiugo. “And when she returned he beat her very heavily …It was unheard of to beat somebody during the sacred week” (29-30). To live in a culture with so many threats to them, women are required to be mentally and emotionally
Okonkwo, a very demanding character, has just finished a day's worth of labor and comes home expecting food at the table and his youngest wife has not prepared it yet. Okonkwo waits for her arrival when, “she returned he beat her very heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace” (Achebe, 28). This quote displays gender inequality throughout the African villages during the Age of Exploration. The tone seen in the words “beat” and “heavily” give a sense of insecurity and negative connotation towards women during that time. In keeping with Igbo view of female nature, they allowed wife beating. It is clearly evident that tone in the book Things Fall Apart allows Achebe to get his point across that women were on the bottom of the social hierarchy and were treated like property. Women were subjugated to their husbands whims, in this case it meant beating his wife when dinner was not ready. This occurred during a Week of Peace regardless that no violence should
Through the character of Okonkwo, Achebe illustrates the dangers of being selfish. Although successful, Okonkwo is one of the most aggressively selfish men among the Igbo people based on his self-centered needs and desires. This characteristic is prevalent throughout the entirety of the novel, and there are always consequences to his actions. For example, Okonkwo is fond of calling men “women” to make himself look more masculine. He does this to Osugo in front of a group of men in a meeting. “Okonkwo knew how to kill a man’s spirit. Everybody at the kindred meeting took sides with Osugo when Okonkwo called him a woman” (Achebe 26). Since the other men sided with Osugo, Okonkwo’s punishment for this narcissistic outburst is embarrassment. Continuing,
This is an example of the difference in personal beliefs among family. Some may say that the book is about the differences in beliefs between the Africans and the colonizers, but it is more than that. It is clear that it was Okonkwo's personal beliefs and not necessarily the views of the people of Umuofia which guided him in what he did. One of these is his reliance in the strength of anger. Although he felt strongly in the beliefs and customs of the Ibo people, there are several occasions in which Okonkwo made a decision to disobey the customs in order to live out his own personal beliefs. For example, in chapter four, Okonkwo is yelled at by Ezeani, the priest of the earth goddess, for beating his wife during the sacred week of peace. Okonkwo did not feel remorse for his actions and probably thought of it as a sign of strength and manhood. Okonkwo was always worried about being seen as weak. One good
Achebe utilizes Okonkwo as morally ambiguous to illustrate an internal battle between good and evil through his brutal actions. Okonkwo beats on his second wife, Ekwefi, when she fails to tell him about leaving their hut; he even threatens to kill her with his gun. The reader can deduce Okonkwo feels justified in his actions because he always thought of the male race as superior and as a disciplinary force. The author chooses to make Okonkwo beat his wife because while Okonkwo was not motivated to abuse his wife by anger, he was motivated to show him as being the head of the household; the man running the show. This connects back to the theme because it was good Okonkwo was taking on the role of being the head, acceptable by his community and time period, yet his methods would be looked down upon by modern day
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.
The connection that Okonkwo has with masculinity is that he shows to others who is in control. He ends up beating up one of his wives because of the assumption
Okonkwo thinks he is the owner of his household and he shows no mercy to anyone who angers him. “He ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives…lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness.” (Achebe, Chapter 2, p.8). Okonkwo beats his children and wives because of his temper which is influenced by the Igbo society; he puts on a hard exterior because he is afraid of being weak and unsuccessful. At one point, he attempts to kill his second wife with a gun because he thinks she is the cause of a tree’s death. In order to prove his power and strength, without thinking of the consequences, Okonkwo beats his youngest wife during the week of peace - a week when the village celebrates peace and who ever disrupts the peace will be punished by Ala, the earth goddess (Lycos, online). “His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for the fear of a goddess.” (Achebe, Chapter 4, p.21). Okonkwo lives in a male dominant society where men are pressured to be strong and successful; because of these influences, Okonkwo develops an inner
Okonkwo is also incredibly aggressive. He regularly physically abuses his nuclear family and does so to make himself seem more masculine. His violence in order to protect his fragile masculinity goes to the extent that “his wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper.” (2.12) After the missionaries arrive in Umuofia and Okonkwo’s
An example of this “ ‘Who killed this tree? Or are you all deaf and dumb?’ As matter fact the tree was very much alive. Okonkwo’s second wife had merely cut a few leaves off it to wrap some food, and she said so. Without further argument Okonkwo gave her a sound beating and left her and her only daughter weeping” (Achebe, 1994, p.38). This emphasizes that Okonkwo beat his wife for a stupid reason for she didn't commit of killing the tree but it was her talking back that made him infuriated. Okonkwo beats his wives in order to show his masculinity and shows to his wives what happens if they contradicting him. Although this may be true not all men beat their wives or think its right to do so. For instance when Egwugwu was deciding a verdict for the punishment of the husband when he beat his wife everyday the Egwugwu said “ ‘Our duty is not to blame this man or to praise that, but to settle the dispute’... ‘It is not bravery when a man fights with a woman’ ” (Achebe, 1994, p. 93). This proves that Egwugwu the most respect/ feared people in the 9 clans agree with how women should be treated. They believe that men are stronger than women and it would be easy for the man to win and that’s not courageous it's
Okonkwo is a man who has to have things his own way. In the novel, there is a scene where his second wife, Ojiugo, did not make him his afternoon meal. Okonkwo, in an act of anger, started to beat his wife heaviley. His other two wives begged for him to stop beating Ojiugo, as it was the Week of Peace, a sacred Igbo holiday. However, “...Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody half-way through, not even for fear of a goddess” (Achebe 30). Despite believing that he may be punished by a god, Okonkwo did not stop beating his wife. Unoka was a more compassionate man than Okonkwo, he was also stubborn. Unoka was lazy and fiscally irresponsible. He spent what little money he had on alcohol and didn’t
Okonkwo was known for his valor in war and his victory against Amalinze the Cat, Okonkwo believed that masculinity can only be shown through his violent action, in order to express his power, he often hit his wives and children, even during the Week of Peace. Nothing seemed to be able to stop him from being violent, because nice or caring personality is considered as weak or feminine. First case was when Ojiugo left without feeding her kid, and such action to Okonkwo was Ojiugo not doing her duty as stated “‘Did she ask you to feed then before she went?’ ‘Yes,’ lied Nwoye’s mother, trying to minimize Ojiugo’s thoughtlessness. Okonkwo knew she was not speaking the truth. He walked back to his obi to await Ojiugo’s return. And when she returned he beat her very heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace” (Achebe 29). The word “beat heavily” implies that Okonkwo did not just beat Ojiugo, instead, it is in the form of domestic violence, the
Throughout history, specifically African heritage, wife beating and other forms of abuse are acceptable. Power and strength are pillars of African culture and can not be jeopardized by women and femininity. Many of the men in Umuofia, the main setting of Things Fall Apart, look up to Okonkwo and his actions. In order to demonstrate his strength (or lack thereof), he continually berates his wives. Along with his wives, he also abuses his children hoping that someday they will be as successful as him. Throughout Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo victimizes his family.