Essay On The Role Of Women In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1852 words - 7 pages

The Role of Women in Things Fall Apart

 
    Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart explores the struggle between old traditions within the Igbo community as well as Christianity and "the second coming" it brings forth. While on the surface, it appears the novel narrows its focus to a single character, Okonkno and his inner battles, one can read deeper into the text and find an array of assorted conflicts in the realm on human vs. human, human vs. nature, human vs. society, and society vs. society. For the purposes of this paper I shall focus on the labyrinth of human vs. human and human vs. society in the framework of the role of women in Igbo society and how men assign and dictate these roles. I will also briefly explain the importance of women in terms of motherhood and wifedom.

Throughout my research I've encountered numerous papers on the rights women do have in Igbo society, on the importance of women in this society. They site the role of widows in Igbo society as well as the respect given to the first wife as proof that while this society is not an ideal situation for women, it is hardly the misogynist society that some make it out to be. I passionately disagree. It is obvious to me that to the characters in Things Fall Apart, women are "things" to be exploited, abused and to serve as second-class citizens to the rank of male privilege. The theme of misogyny runs rampant throughout the text whether it is exposed by the absence of women in the text, the abuses women suffer at the hands of men, or the subtle ways in which society dictates and reinforces these negative statuses and images of women.

Throughout the text women are virtually invisible and live their lives on the sidelines; it is clear from a close reading that women are to be not seen nor heard. As one critic describes, "it is an andocentric world where the man is everything and the woman nothing" (Mezu 2). A clear instance of this is the case of Okonkwo's mother. While the presence of his father, although negative, is prevalent in much of the novel, the presence of his mother is all but nonexistent. To my knowledge, his (unnamed) mother shows up only once in the text, three days after his participation in the ritual murder of Ikemefuna, his "adopted" son (Jeyifo 3).

For the first time in three nights, Okonkwo slept. He woke up once in the middle of the night and his mind went back to the past three days without making him feel uneasy. He began to wonder why he felt uneasy at all. It was like a man wondering in broad daylight why a dream had appeared so terrible to him at night. He stretched himself and scratched his thigh where a mosquito had bitten him as he slept. Another one was wailing near his right ear. He slapped the ear and hoped he had killed it. Why do they always go for one's ears? When he was a child his mother had told him a story about it.

But it was as silly as all women's stories. Mosquito, she had said, had asked Ear to marry him, whereupon...

Find Another Essay On Essay on the Role of Women in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

Essay on Brutalities of African Society in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1025 words - 4 pages Brutalities of African Society Exposed in Things Fall Apart      David Carroll writes, of the novel Things Fall Apart, "This incident is not only a comment on Okonkwo's heartlessness. It criticizes implicitly the laws he is too literally implementing..." (Carroll) The incident that David Carroll refers to is the death of Ikemefuna. Ikemefuna was a young boy who was handed over to the village of Umuofia as compensation for the murder of one

Essay on the Ibo's Sacred Relationship in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

986 words - 4 pages The Ibo's Sacred Relationship in Things Fall Apart   The Ibo people had a very sacred relationship with their landscape. Their entire existence depended on their environment and nature was sacred to them. This is unlike the English who came to the lower Niger with imperialistic goals of "civilizing" these "primitive" people. The Europeans were more technologically advanced, but in this progression they lost touch with nature and the

Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" A discussion of Achebe's portrayal of women in Igbo society

1177 words - 5 pages Chinua Achebe's first novel Things Fall Apart is a story about an Igbo village in the late 1800's, and is one of its important men, Okonkwo. The story analyzes the destruction of African culture when the white man appeared. Achebe writes in a style that is interpretive instead of objective, and reflects the sociocultural organization existing in Africa during that era. Achebe highlights the roles of women in pre-colonial Africa. The female

Existentialism in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1779 words - 7 pages , and rather gave rise to a new sense of individuality.  This is perhaps the most intricate detail of Achebe's work.  By encompassing critique of both civilizations, Achebe accomplishes an existential  duality in the examination of both cultures--that of the people of Umofia, and the English colonizers.   Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart offers the audience much insight into the colonizers role in and around the village of Umofia

Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

963 words - 4 pages Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart    Okonkwo, as presented by Chinua Achebe in the novel Things Fall Apart, wished to be revered by all as a man of great wealth, power and control--the antithesis of his father. Okonkwo was driven by the need to exhibit utmost control over himself and others; he was an obsessive and insecure man. Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was "a failure," "a loafer," and "People laughed at him" (1426). This

Gender in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1920 words - 8 pages contradictions in relation to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Above all the tribe values physical prowess, it places a great deal of importance on individual achievement, these attributes are in fact intended to ensure the security and permanence of the group. For like most early societies this is a society that is dominated by a passion for survival. Umofia therefore cultivates the notion of the heroic ideal based on physical prowess. The

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1413 words - 6 pages Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart The last chapter of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" concludes with the sentence: "He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger." This refers to the District Commissioner's chosen title for a book he has written that would have the African people, the Igbo tribe specifically, as the main subject. From the title itself

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1067 words - 5 pages elderly. Although the social structure played an essential role in balancing life in the society, it played a more significant role in the demise of the Igbo community. Because of their rigid structure, the people isolated the osu, or the outcasts, outside their society. Due to their actions, this led the osu to convert to the new religion. The Igbo people were not able to cooperate with the new religion that was imposed upon them and eventually led to the rise of disunity.   Works Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: William Heinemann Limited, 1959. Print.

Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"

947 words - 4 pages INTRODUCTION:Chinua Achebe has penned the book "Things Fall Apart" as retaliation against the Western books portraying African cultures and tribal religions as brutal, savage and animalistic. He attempts to portray through his book that the people of the African Igbo tribe are not savages or mindless tribals, they are a people with a history and a culture and a well thought out way of life. He also tries to give a realistic portrayal of the Igbo

Essay on Okonkwo and Nwoye in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1465 words - 6 pages Understanding Okonkwo and Nwoye in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart   Two passages from the story Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, provide the reader with a more profound understanding of Okonkwo, and his son Nwoye.  The two do not have a good relationship and it becomes worse as the story progresses.   Throughout the book the two become increasingly distant and it is apparent that Okonkwo is very disappointed in his son.  After the death

The Role of Women in "Things Fall Apart", by Chinua Achebe

703 words - 3 pages Woman of Umuofia.In the novel, "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe, the arrival of the white man, changes the society of the Ibo people. The Ibo culture is very simple, and may seem silly, but is justified by them. They have a social class order and women are never part of it. The women in Ibo society are dominated by the men. The main character Okonkwo, struggles throughout the novel with himself and the fear of being portrayed as womanly, for

Similar Essays

The Role Of Women In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

3673 words - 15 pages More than those of any other African writer, Chinua Achebe’s writings have helped to develop what is known as African literature today. And the single book which has helped him to launch his "revolution" is the classic, Things Fall Apart.  The focus of this essay includes: 1) Achebe's portraiture of women in his fictional universe, the existing sociocultural situation of the period he is depicting, and the factors in it that condition male

Essay On Dignity Of The African People In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

784 words - 3 pages Dignity of the African People Conveyed in Things Fall Apart    In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, it is shown that the African people had their own complex culture before the Europeans decided to "pacify" them. The idea that the dignity of these people has been greatly compromised is acknowledged in the essay "The Role of the Writer," which is explanatory of Achebe's novels. A writer trying to capture the truth of a

The Character Of Okonkwo In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1942 words - 8 pages The Character of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart What makes a successful man? This, in itself, is a culture bound question because it can vary from culture to culture. However, in the perception of Okonkwo, the main character in Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, the measure of a man's success is based on two elements, material acquisition and growth, and physical prowess. This is ironic for Okonkwo since

Analysis Of Achebe's Impartiality In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1116 words - 4 pages Achebe's Impartiality In Things Fall Apart      Knowledge of Africa and the inhabitants of the massive continent were often portrayed as barbaric beasts by the first missionaries to enter the land.  Because of skewed writings by European missionary workers, a picture was painted for their readership of a savage Africa saved only by the benevolent, civilized western influence.  Achebe successfully attempts to redirect this attitude. Achebe