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Gender Roles in Things Fall Apart

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Amanda Rodrigues

on 5 June 2014

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Transcript of Gender Roles in Things Fall Apart

Handcuffs of Tradition: A Feminist perspective of Things Fall Apart
Thesis
In the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, gender stereotypes profoundly influence the entire village. Although many would argue that it is the tradition and culture that influence the characters in the novel, a feminist perspective demonstrates that a severe inner struggle exists between these traditional expectations and the characters true desires.
Gender in the Village: Point 1
The village has certain expectations regarding gender roles


Point 3: Children's Roles
- Not given a chance to play and be kids
- Forced to work from a young age in the roles for which their gender dictates
Point 4: Marital Rituals
- Further serve the stereotypes
- Brides are possessions

Quote
"Okonkwo was provoked to justifiable anger" (page 29)
Quote
Ezinma: "Can I bring your chair for you?"
Okonkwo: "No, that's a boys job" (page 44)
Quote 1
"Marriage should be a play and not a fight; so we are falling down again. Then he added ten sticks to the fifteen and gave the bundle to Ukegbu. In this way Akeuke's bride-price was finally settled at twenty bags of cowries" (page 73)
Quote 2
Video
"The world is large," said Okonkwo. "I have even heard that in some tribes a man's children belong to his wife and her family." "That cannot be," said Machi. (page 74)
Gender in the Village: Point 2
Expectations in the village create a lot of inner struggle between the characters and their realities
Quote
"Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic...Okonkwo's fear was greater than these" (page 13)
Things Fall Apart
Gender in the novel: Essentially all life that is portrayed in the novel is gendered
Gender in Things Fall Apart
Ex. The crops that are grown
Ex. The severity of punishments
"His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops, like coco-yams, beans and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop." (3.28)
Passage 1.
Passage 2
" The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent. He could not return to the clan after seven years"
Females in Things Fall Apart
Feminism
: a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women
Reading this book in western culture it can be seen that Things Fall apart goes against the premises of feminist beliefs
Females in Things Fall Apart
Stereotypes of Women:
oppressed by men
Care givers
uneducated
portrayed as weak
Although a lot of these stereotypes are true, Chinua Achebe does a great job of emphazing the role of women in African Culture.
Females in Things Fall Apart
At first glance the females in the novel seem to not to serve a purpose but with close inspection it can be seen that the women in things fall apart have certain roles that are worshiped and respected.
Example
Role of Priestess
Concept of Mother is Supreme
Ekwefi
Females in Things Fall Apart
Passage 1 Chielo
Passage 2 Mother is supreme
Passage 3 Ekwefi
"The priestess had now reached Okonkwo's compound and was talking with him outside his hut. She was saying again and again the Agbala wanted to see his daughter, Ezinma.--- The priestess screamed. Beware, Okonkwo! Beware of exchanging words with Agbala. Does a man speak when a God speaks? Beware!
"A man belongs to his fatherland and not to his motherland. And yet we say Nneka---'Mother is Supreme.' It's true that a child belongs to his father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mothers hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you."
" Okonkwo turned on his side and went back to sleep. He was roused in the morning by someone banging on his door. Who is that? he growled. He knew it must be Ekwefi. Of his three wives Ekwefi was the only one who would have the audacity to bang on his door.
Looking at Okonkwo
Okonkwo can be classified as a tragic hero. He holds a position of power and prestige, chooses his course of action, possesses a tragic flaw, and gains awareness of circumstances that lead to his fall
Tragic Flaw
: Fear of weakness and failure
Okonkwo associates weakness and failure as feminine attributes
At first glance Okonkwo is the ideal male figure...
Looking at Okonkwo
Strong, Powerful, and well respected
Through an in depth analysis it can be seen that his over whelming fear is that he will become like his father; Unoka who he believes was lazy, unable to support his family, and cowardly
Looking at Okonkwo
Female
Male
"Even as a little boy he had resented his father's failure and weakness, and even now he 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 a name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title."
Looking at Okonkwo
Okonkow's brusqueness and fear of bring considered feminine often causes him to take actions that are unnecessary and destructive.
Examples:

Killing Ikemefuna
Disowning Nwoye
Beating his wives
Work Cited
Achebe, Chinua.
Things Fall Apart.
United States: Anchor Books, 1994. Print.
Achebe, Chinua. "Things Fall Apart Theme of Gender."
www. shmoop.com.
Shmoop University. 2014. Web. June 2nd, 2014.
"Essay on the Role of Women in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.
http://123helpme.com/view.
123Helpme.com. 2000-2013.Web. June 1st, 2014
"Things Fall Apart."
www.cliffnotes.com/literature.
Houghton Miffen Harcout. 2013. Web. June 2nd, 2014.
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