GENDER ROLES Pertaining to Things Fall Apart

For the most part in Things Fall Apart, women are oppressed. In this society women are seen as inferiors with specific, more gentle-like duties. As a whole, they have little power, but that does not mean they are completely powerless. With deeper insight, the powers to certain feminine figures are more noticeable

The priestess in those days was a woman called Chika. She was full of the power of her god, and she was greatly feared
Mother and child in Africa

Another example is that one of their most beloved gods whom they all praise is a woman, the earth goddess Ani. She is described as playing “a greater part in the life of the people than any other deity. She was the ultimate judge or morality and conduct. And what more, she was in close communion with the departed fathers of the clan whose bodies has been committed to earth”

They do have important roles, for instance, women painted the houses of the egwugwu (84) and the first wife of the oldest man in the Igbo society is highly respected and is consulted with all major decisions.

Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper

In Igbo culture, the men are the leaders over the women. When women are married to men, they are almost never the only wife. They also adopt a life of servitude for their husband

He belongs to the clan,” he told her [Okonkwo’s eldest wife]. “So look after him.” “Is he staying long with us?” she asked. “Do what you are told, woman,” Okonkwo thundered, and stammered. “When did you become one of the ndichie of Umuofia?” And so Nwoye’s mother took Ikemefuna to her hut and asked no more questions.

Okonkwo throughout the book rules with an iron fist over his family. This type of behavior is not uncommon in his culture

The Igbo culture stereotypes men as the only gender capable of being wise enough to farm yams, handle businesses, and worthy enough to lead tribes and families, even if women are the ones overly caring for them. Women are seen as dependent, unable to provide for themselves, and weak. Their main job is to tend to the housework and children, as well as cooking for their husband and children.

Men are expected to do heavy labor, the majority of the work, provide for their families, and rule their house hold. If they are unable to meet those standards, they will be judged by others in their tribe and labeled as “Agbala,” meaning woman but is commonly used as “a man without titles.”

This 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

Women are passive, obedient, and constantly tending to children and the household. Woman were looked at the way that they were looked at in American women in the 50s. Ultimately they were looked at as weak people whose only real responsibility was to cook, clean, and look after their children. I blame Chris Hebert.


Created with images by Mishimoto - "Mother and child, Farafenni Gambia" • alaina.buzas - "Things Fall Apart"

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