Domination and authority over women are reflected by the male characters in Things Fall Apart, specially the protagonist Okonkwo, as he oppresses his wives and overly abuse his power as the male dominator. At the beginning of the novel Okonkwo displayed, this trait as the monarch of the household “He ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children” (Acebe, 10). In the Igbo community men were the domineering sex and ruled over their families especially their wives. They treated their wives with disrespect and continuously let women live in fear. As stated above, males being more powerful than women limit woman capabilities and let them fear their husband. Throughout the book the author gives a clear idea that within the Igbo culture they live in a patriarchy society and as proven above the males continuously withhold this dominate role in their household.
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
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
tribe to be a week of peace Okonkwo beat up his third wife because she
In most cultures an individual’s gender will influence their characterization. For instance, Ibo tribes in Africa classify people according to their gender. Women are thought as submissive individuals who are to some extent weaker than men. Men on the other hand are thought of as strong beings with much expected from them. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart strongly emphasizes on the categorization of masculinity and femininity in the society of Ibo tribes. Throughout the book, Okonkwo’s idea about masculinity situates him with respect to his community. In his community Okonkwo is greatly praised for his masculine traits. It is Okonkwo integration with masculinity that leads to him becoming an
The way in which the women of the Igbo village are presented, by Achebe, make it seem as if they serve very little purpose to the society. The main character, Okonkwo, is infatuated with making sure he does not turn out to be like his father. By living in a village where manliness was crucial and weakness was not, Okonkwo viewed his father as being a weak and cowardly mean because he could barely support his family. To make sure he did not become an adult that resembled his father, he developed the characteristics of being brave, wealthy and even violent. Since he acquired these traits, it gave him a sense of superiority over his wives and the other women of the village. Perhaps because of Okonkwo’s behavior, the women of the village are treated with less respect. It is portrayed by Achebe that the women of the Igbo village only purpose is looking after the children and helping their husbands when or if it is needed. Although the women of the Igbo village are described as being insignificant, the women are the people that fill in the gaps in the society. For example, the women are the ones that cook, clean, take care of everyone, help harvest and grow food, as well as all the other everyday tasks that are easily overlooked.
In addition, it is an insult to a man or boy if they possess any female qualities. Guilt ridden after murdering Ikemefuna, his surrogate son, Okonkwo sternly reprimands himself not to “become like a shivering old woman” – this he considers the worst insult (65). Okonkwo also relates negatively to his oldest son Nwoye, who according to Okonkwo possess weak qualities and thus acts like a woman. He wanted Nwoye to listen to “masculine stories of violence and bloodshed” rather than the stories told by women which were for “foolish women and children” (54). The stories that men told were about bravery and war and young men were expected to listen to this instead of fairy tales that women told. “So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land” – while Nwoye feigned that he liked the stories his father told him to make him a man, he preferred his mother’s that he heard while growing up that kept his spirit gentle.
According to Achebe, the main character detested his father at a very young age, “Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala.”(28) The Igbo tribe in Things Fall Apart uses the term an “agbala” which is used to describe “woman”. Okonkwo considered his father to be weak, effeminate, poor, disgraceful, and always in debt to his fellow tribes people. Okonkwo’s life revolves around the deep fear of becoming a failure and adopting the image of his father. Due to this self rooted perception of failure there are indications that he tries to rise above his father’s legacy.
Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe, depicts the life of a clansman of Umuofia, known as Okonkwo. Okonkwo was one of the wealthiest and respected men of his tribe. He gained respect as a great wrestler in his clan, and worked to surpass his father, Unoka’s image, which had been sullied by unpaid debts, and his work-shy attitude. Unoka was no man to Okonkwo, for Unoka had not taken any titles in his clan, therefore, he was nothing more than a woman in Okonkwo’s eyes. In such a patriarchal society being called a woman was disgraceful, and Okonkwo wanted nothing to do with anything womanly, and in turn he wanted nothing of his father, including any traits he carried, righteous or not. Okonkwo’s twisted view of masculinity and lack of compassion creates high expectations. When Okonkwo begins to see that his clan, family, and he himself cannot reach his expectations of strength, he will have nothing the turn to, but the noose that fate has made for him. The Igbo proverb “The thought that led a man to truncate his own existence was not conceived in a day” applies to Okonkwo’s suicide, which had begun with his twisted ideology of masculinity. The thoughts that led Okonkwo to commit suicide originate within his perception of weakness tied to his father; he sees this weakness in his son, in his tribe, and in himself. Okonkwo is disappointed in his son Nwoye for becoming so much like Unoka, he is ashamed of his clan for conforming to the views of the Christians, and he is
Historically, women have been viewed as inferior to men due to a female's lack of physical strength. In the candid novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe clearly defines gender roles; women are the caretakers and cooks- simply existing to satisfy men’s desires. Although “Things Fall Apart portrays the women as weak ,inferior, and being put in their place by men; however, Achebe also notes their importance during several parts of the story. By incorporating powerful dialogues and scenes to develop gender conflicts, Achebe uses the completely divergent character of Okonkwo, who constantly strives to achieve manliness to demonstrate that although women in the Igbo society are important, they are not treated as such. Chinua Achebe, the author suggests that there is a constant conflict which exists between the two genders and the expectations of the roles in which each of them must play.
The novel Things Fall Apart took place in the Igbo Society-the part of the world that has very strict views on gender roles, but not just gender roles. It is likely that every individual in the Igbo society viewed or defined masculinity differently. To some, masculinity was expressed through anger and violence; to others, masculinity was expressed through a man’s responsibility. These different views on masculinity can create conflicts and can therefore impact individual's life. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo and Obierika different interpretations of masculinity led them to a different life and such intention was successfully introduced through Achebe’s uses of foil characters.
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart gives us a vivid description of the Igbo culture through the stories of Okonkwo and his village, Umuofia. In regards to Igbo culture, contributions of women cannot be ignored. Although their position and status seems to be underestimated by the people in the novel, women do play an important role in the Igbo culture in four aspects: women take care of the children, do all the housework, serve as priestesses, and build relationships with other villages.
In the novel novel Things Fall Apart, the author, Chinua Achebe, wants the character Okonkwo to be viewed as a highly masculine and strict brute. Throughout the novel there are glimpses of the harsh qualities that Okonkwo possesses that start to break. When Okonkwo is exiled to his mother's tribe, he noticed the vast differences between the two. He noticed how feminine and cowardice their actions are, so he starts to easy up and gets a little sense of when to be how he is usually and when to be how the people in his mother's tribe are. Although he starts making changes to how he is as a person, he quickly realizes how weak it makes him look and how weak his mother's tribe is. When the Christians started moving into his mother's tribe, the people of the tribe wanted discuss or compromise with them, but Okonkwo had other ideas. When talking to the council Okonkwo says, “ Let us not reason like cowards… If a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor, what do I do? Do I shut my eyes? No! I take a stick and break his head” (158). This quote shows how the author wants
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.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was wrote in 1958 as a response to European Literature viewing Africans as savages who were then enlightened and found peace and safety by the Europeans. Chinua describes the Igbo people and showed the culture and showing the way of life of the Igbo people. This book shows this powerful and eye opening look into the complex society of these tribes and villages and how law and order is run. The major theme that is I will focus is that traditional development of the Igbo tribe alone and with the influence of the Europeans.