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

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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 read...


... middle of paper ...


...p but be sickened and saddened by not only the reality of women in Africa but of Achebe's portrayal of it.

 

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1958.

Chun, June. "The Role of Women in Things Fall Apart" 1990   October 1999

Jeyifo, Biodun. "Okonkwo and his Mother: 'Things Fall Apart' and Issues of Gender in the Constitution of African Postcolonial Discourse" Callaloo Fall 1993

Mezu, Rose Ure. "Women in Achebe's World" Spring/Summer 1995. October 1999

Osei-Nyame, Kwadwo. "Chinua Achebe Writing Culture: Representations of Gender and Tyranny in Things Fall Apart" Research in African Literatures Summer 1999.

Sengovaa, Joko. "Native Identity and Alienation in Richard Wright's Native Son and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart: A Cross Cultural Analysis" The Mississippi Quarterly Spring 1997.


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