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Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart explores the struggles between the old traditions of the Igbo community and the effects of Christianity on the people of different calibers within that society.

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Introduction

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart explores the struggles between the old traditions of the Igbo community and the effects of Christianity on the people of different calibers within that society. While on the surface it appears that the novel narrows its focus to a single character, Okonkwo and his inner battles, it also portrays an array of assorted conflicts in the realms of human verses human and human verses society. Therefore, this paper will focus on the tangle between human verses human and human verses society in the framework of the importance and role of women in Igbo society, as well as how men assign and dictate these roles. While the respect given to the first wife and the widow oracle is clearly revealed in the novel, Igbo society is not an ideal situation for women. However, it is hardly a misogynist society as one may think it is. Just like titled men, titled women too have great prestige and influence in Igbo society. This title is taken by the oracle (the goddess), who is respected among her people. This respect is depicted in the novel when Chielo the oracle takes Enzima Okonkwo's favorite daughter. Okonkwo follows her and waits outside the cave, as he tells his wife that "I shall wait here."1 Given Okonkwo's character, he is not a man to wait for something; however, due ...read more.

Middle

The theme of misogyny runs throughout the novel either revealed by the absence of women in the text, the abuses women suffer at the hands of men, or the ways in which society dictates and reinforces these negative figures and images of women. Throughout the text, women are invisible and live their lives on the sidelines. A clear instance of this is the case of Okonkwo's mother. While the presence of his father, though negative, is prevalent in the novel, the presence of his mother is all but nonexistent. In fact, it appears only once, when Okonkwo remembers the story he terms as a silly women's stories about a mosquito6. Thus, he suppresses the memory of his mother. Later he was comforted in his motherland as Uchedu, Okonkwo's uncle, says, "but when there is sorrow and bitterness he (man) finds refuge in his motherland."7 Therefore, this theme of invisibility seems to be a habitual matter in the novel, as women are regularly presented as wives and mothers, busy with the household and small insignificant responsibilities while men take on the more significance responsibilities of politics, trade, and society. Along with the absence of women, this labor division is also prevalent in the film Caravans of Gold where men carry out the most important jobs of society and women do the least important work8. ...read more.

Conclusion

The main crop is the yam, which is said to stand for "manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed."12 On the other hand, the female crop is smaller and has much less importance to the tribe. Once again this reinforces that to be manly is to be supreme, and that women are worthless and undesirable. Finally, men in Igbo society use women for their own gain and appear to care little about them. Consequently, women are seen as property of men. The more possessions the man acquires, the more powerful he becomes. While one could argue that this is an important custom because women are a large part of what makes up mans' power, it is sarcastic since women do not share nor have equal access to this power. This is shown also in the film Mastering a Continent by Basil Davidson, where the Pokot women of Kenya are properties of men and the more wives a man has the more powerful and prestigious he becomes.13 Although, many may argue that the role of women in Igbo society and many other African societies is important and appreciated, the themes in the text of Things Fall Apart dispute and contradict this at many times. Even though the book slightly shows the significance of women in the Igbo society, it shows in a greater scale the cruelty, and inequality women receive form their men folks. ...read more.

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