(Click the themes infographic to download.)
Much of the traditional Igbo life presented in this novel revolves around structured gender roles. Essentially all of Igbo life is gendered, from the crops that men and women grow, to characterization of crimes. In Igbo culture, women are the weaker sex, but are also endowed with qualities that make them worthy of worship, like the ability to bear children. The dominant role for women is: first, to make a pure bride for an honorable man, second, to be a submissive wife, and third, to bear many children. The ideal man provides for his family materially and has prowess on the battlefield. The protagonist in the novel is extremely concerned with being hyper-masculine and devalues everything feminine, leaving him rather unbalanced. Much of the gender theme in the book centers around the idea of balance between masculine and feminine forces – body and mind/soul, emotionality and rationality, mother and father. If one is in imbalance, it makes the whole system haywire.
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
Although Okonkwo spends most of his time expressing his masculinity, he often ignores or violates feminine tenets like peace and valuing one’s family. Shunning of all things feminine causes him to commit ever-escalating crimes that lead to his downfall.
Conflicts of Gender in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- Length: 459 words (1.3 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
There are constant struggles between gender, identity, commodification, and class. Among the men and women in many African tribes that still exist today, there are divergences, which will always remain intact because of the culture and the way in which they are taught to treat each other. Chinua Achebe wrote the novel, Things Fall Apart, which is a great piece of African literature that deals with the Igbo culture, history, and the taking over of African lands by British colonization. The ongoing gender conflict is a prominent theme in Things Fall Apart presenting the clash between men and women of the African Igbo society. Throughout history, from the beginning of time to today, women have frequently been viewed as inferior, men’s possessions whose sole purpose was to satisfy the men’s needs. Maybe it's because men are physically stronger than women and have always had the ability to control them that way. In Things Fall Apart, the Igbo women were perceived as being weak. They received little or no respect in the Igbo society and were harshly abused. The recurring theme of gender conflicts helps drive the novel Things Fall Apart by showing how important women are to the men, yet they do not receive the treatment they deserve.
Women have many responsibilities in the Igbo society such as having children, cooking, cleaning, and farming. These are important function for women, yet they are not given much credit or meaning for their existence in the roles they fill. As Rose Ure Mezu points out “The world in Things Fall Apart is one in which patriarchy intrudes oppressively into every sphere of existence. It is an andocentric world where the man is everything and the woman nothing.” In some way Mezu is correct in saying that the man is everything and the woman nothing. The man holds the highest importance of the family and it is he who holds the titles.
In Things Fall Apart, the reader follows the troubles of the main character Okonkwo, a tragic hero whose flaw includes the fact that "his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness" (2865). For Okonkwo, his father Unoka was the essence of failure and weakness.
How to Cite this Page
|Colonialism and Independence in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay - Things Fall Apart - Colonialism and Independence "Turning and turning in the widening gyre The Falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." ~W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming" This excerpt is almost a summary of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Things Fall Apart is a novel about nineteenth century Nigeria, before colonialism and the granting of independence. It is a story of a great wrestler and elder of a Nigerian clan comprised of several villages.... [tags: Things Fall Apart essays]||867 words|
|Essay on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - The struggle between custom values and conversion is a universally applied theme to Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The fable like, tragic tone of the work was set off from the very first page. The verb FALL APART has 4 senses to lose one's emotional or mental composure, go to pieces, break or fall apart into fragments, and to become separated into pieces or fragments. These are all exemplified in the novel Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo is a tragic hero in the traditional sense. His fate was decided for him and was unavoidable.... [tags: custom values, conversion, classic tragedy]||1111 words|
| The Concept of Gender and Gender Identity Essay - I am interested in the concept of gender and the deeper meaning of being considered a transgendered person. I feel that a lot of people do not know or care to know about these topics on a more in depth level. People who close their eyes to the idea that a person could be born with the physical aspects of a male yet have the psychological aspects of a female and vice versa, tend to be the ones who say that those people are going against nature or god. Discriminating against people on the principles that their view on the matter is right and their main source of information is the bible.... [tags: sexuality, transgenderism]|
:: 10 Works Cited
|Conflict in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay - Throughout the world there are many conflicts. It has been that way all throughout history. Since the dawn of man, there have been many conflicts. These conflicts led to wars and changed the lives of many forever. Almost all of the conflicts are due to discrimination by different groups of people. Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, provide examples of discrimination between groups of people. The story focuses on the life and suicide of Okonkwo, a well-respected clansman of Umuofia clan. He struggles between the traditional strong masculine culture in a Nigerian Village and the new customs brought by white missionaries.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]||1079 words|
| Gender Roles in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay - Upon an initial reading of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, it is easy to blame the demise of Okonkwo’s life and of the Umofia community on the imperialistic invasions of the white men. After all, Okonkwo seemed to be enjoying relative peace and happiness before then. He did have a few mishaps; one of them resulted in him being exiled for eight years. Nonetheless, he returned to his home town with high spirits and with prospects of increased success. However, everything has changed.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]|
:: 4 Works Cited
|Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Essay - Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, tells the story of Okonkwo. As a fearful and stubborn protagonist, the novel retains a clear focus upon his thoughts and actions. Through the skewed perspective of a character-focused narrative, Achebe presents the complexities and subtleties of life in the Ibo community. Although the rigid frame of Okonkwo’s fears and beliefs restrict most of the narrative to his myopic account of Ibo life, the views of those in contrast to his can be seen on the outskirts of the text.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]||1761 words|
|Things Fall Apart: Questions and Answers Essay - 3. Whites often referred to Africa as the “Dark Continent,” a place of evil. Considering Igbo traditional beliefs and the colonial encounter between Britain and the Igbo, where is evil located in this book. In the Things Fall Apart, Achebe (1969) portrays Nigeria at a time when the arrival of the British was intrusive as they crept within Nigeria’s borders and made an overwhelming influence while they claimed that Nigerians were ultimately evil and needed to be controlled. In essence, it appears that one of Achebe’s (1969) goals is to convey to readers what the British’s alternative motives were when British colonialism occurred.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]||532 words|
|Conflict and Tradition in Things Fall Apart Essay - Conflict and Tradition in Things Fall Apart The book Things Fall Apart successfully expressed how Chinua Achebe had succeeded in writing a different story. It pointed out the conflict of oneself, the traditional beliefs, and the religious matters of the Africans. Throughout the novel, Chinua Achebe used simple but dignified words and unlike other books, he also included some flashbacks and folktales to make the novel more interesting and comprehensible. Things Fall Apart was about a man named Okonkwo, who was always struggling with his inner fear although he was known for being a strong, powerful, and fearless warior.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]||745 words|
| Gender Relations in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay - Gender Relations in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, the Ibo people's patriarchal society has a strict system of behavioral customs according to gender. These customs strongly restrict the freedom of Ibo women and help to reinforce generation after generation the notion that Ibo men are superior to the women of their tribe. 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.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Achebe Essays]|
:: 3 Works Cited
| Gender in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay - This paper will look at the contradictions in the work of Chinua Achebe in relation to his placement of woman and femininity. Kristen Holst Petersen states that ‘the African discussion is between feminist emancipation versus the fight against neo-colonialism, particularly in its cultural aspect...which comes first, the fight for female equality or the fight against Western cultural imperialism’. This paper will attempt to highlight these contradictions in relation to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.... [tags: Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart Essays]|
:: 3 Works Cited
Okonkwo was taunted as a child by other children when they called his father Unoka agbala. Agbala could either mean a man who had taken no title or "woman." Okonkwo hated anything weak or frail, and his descriptions of his tribe and the members of his family show that in Igbo society anything strong was likened to man and anything weak to woman.
In the story, Okonkwo had three wives, which was seen as a great accomplishment for a man in African culture.