Conflicts of Gender in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


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     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.

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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.


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