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Things Fall Apart: Social Hierarchy

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Tanaz Meghjani

on 28 March 2011

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Transcript of Things Fall Apart: Social Hierarchy

Things Fall Apart Social Hierarchy "His fame rested on solid personal achievements" pg. 3
The social structure of the Umuofia tribe consists of a hierarchy of skill and strength. Okonkowo is the strongest warrior in the Umuofia tribe. He flaunts this strength by not only supporting three wives but by being one of the village’s most successful warriors. Okonkowo's money, power and strength help to make his standing in the tribe superior to that of the other men.

"Fortunately, among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father." pg. 8
In this aspect of their culture, the tribe was very fair. A man was judged based on what he could do regardless of his lineage. "Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered." pg. 9
"Ezeudu was the oldest man in this quarter of Umuofia. he had been a great and fearless warrior in his time, and was now accorded great repect in all the clan." pg. 57
Those who were old were given a lot of respect because they had experienced the most and often held the most titles. However, even more so than age, the tribe valued achievement and accomplishment. This was portrayed in the respect Okwonko recieved even though he was still young. He was hardworking and earned the titles he recieved. "...and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title." pg. 13
Women did not play a major part in society and were only good for child-bearing. Men who attained no titles were referred to as women because they too played little part in society. They were deemed lazy and unworthy to hold a respectable position in the tribe. Okwonko's first son, Nwoye, was then twelve years old but was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness." pg. 13
While laziness was looked down upon throughout the tribe, Okwonko especially feared this because of his father; He did not want his own son to be the same way. "The Oracle was called Agbala, and people came from far and near to consult it." pg. 16
The oracle was held in very high esteem. No one in the tribe would do anything without first consulting the Oracle. The tribe even put off wars if the Oracle said to do so. "There was a wealthy man in Okwonko's village who had three huge barns, nine wives, and thirty children. His name was Nwakibie and he had taken the highest but one title which a man could take in the clan." pg. 19
This just goes to show that it was more often than not the wealthy who recieved the highest titles in Umuofia. "So Okwonko encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land- masculine stories of violence and bloodshed." pg. 53
The men of the tribe were supposed to be violent and tough. They were supposed to be able to control their women and rule their household. These were the standard they were expected to meet. By Tanaz Meghjani & Numera Sachwani "But it was as silly as all women's stories." pg. 75

Women's stories were those of magical events and therefore men would not listen to then and regarded them as dumb. "The titled men and elders sat on their stools waiting for the trial to begin." pg. 87

The titled men and the elders were the most respected people of the tribe. Therefore during the hot day they were the only ones who sat on chairs; everyone stood up. "It was clear from the way the crowd stood or sat that the cermony was for men." pg. 87

Although women attended the ceremony, the main purpose was for the men to come to the event. " They [women] scrubbed and painted the outside walls under the supervision of men." pg. 89

Women were inferior to men and were, therefore, subject to such treatment. " And then the egwugwu appeared." pg. 89

The egwugwu were the greatest of the masked spirits and at the sight of them all women ran out of fear. "Two years ago," continued Odukwe," when she was pregnant, he beat her until she miscarried." pg. 91

Men were allowed to beat their wives because, once again, women were inferior. However, the clan did protect women if the beating was too harsh or at the wrong time. "It is not bravery when a man fights with a woman." pg. 93

A man who fought with a women was not truely a man because this was an unfair fight, since women were weaker. "Beware, Okonkwo!" she warned. "Beware of exchaning words with Agabala. Does a man speak when a god speaks?" pg. 101

These lines show the importance of priestesses in the culture; they are important because they bring the words of god. "Okonkwo had commited the female, because it had been inadvertent." pg. 124

Had Okonkwo knowingly killed the boy it would have been a male crime and Okonkwo would not have been as ashamed; however, if Okonkwo had commited a male crime he would be exiled from the land for his lifetime. Women crimes were less punishable. "...it was he who had received Okonkwo's mother twenty and ten years before when she had been brought home from Umuofia to be buried with her people. " pg. 129

A woman was buried with her own family instead of that with her husband's. This was because women were not truely a part of the man's family. "A man belongs to his fatherland and not to his motherland." pg. 133

A man was a part of his father's family, women were part of the mother's. The mother had no right to her son. "And yet we say Nneka-'Mother is Supreme.' " pg. 133

The mother is considered to be the protector of her child. She is the one who cares for her children. If the child is upset the mother makes the child happy.
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