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From Stereotype to Pacification - An Analysis of Sexism and its Effects on Igbo Society.

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Tahir Yusufaly 10-5-03 World Literature - Period 3 From Stereotype to Pacification - An Analysis of Sexism and its Effects on Igbo Society There are a lot of things in the world that people take for granted. That is, until those things start to damage them. And slowly, but surely, the damaging starts to turn to destruction. By the time they realize their mistake it is too late. Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart takes place in Igbo Nigeria before and during its colonization by the white man. It centers around Okonkwo, a Nigerian man from the clan of Umuofia, who holds power and prestige and whose life is constantly dominated by anger and fear of being weak. Throughout the novel, one of the recurring themes is that of women and fairness in gender. Men and 'masculinity' overall chauvinistically dominate the Igbo society, and thus spark many females and agbala, or feminine men, to leave their Nigerian culture for the Christian missionaries, thereby catalyzing a downfall to their native clan and illustrating the importance of respect and the possible dangers of stereotypical behavior. For the most part, the Igbo culture is one in which masculinity is respected and wanted among the clansmen, proving that it is a very medieval and unprogressive culture in terms of gender fairness. A prominent example is when Okonkwo's father Unoka goes to the Oracle and asks why his crops do not grow, and the Oracle priestess screams in response, "You, Unoka, are known in all the clan for the weakness of your machete and your hoe. ...read more.


As Chielo, a widowed mother who is a simpleton like all women in the clan, is the one who is bestowed with the role, she serves as living proof that it is possible for a female of Umuofia to hold a position of power. But she is one of a rare few women that have been able to obtain authority or respect, and so the overwhelming majority of females are easy bait to an opportunity for something more. Because the Christian religion is seen as a sign of righteousness and hope for a better life for the effeminate males and women, it is no coincidence that they become some of the first new converts. Specifically, after the church of Mr. Kiaga survives on the Evil Forest for over twenty-eight days, they, "...won a handful more converts. And for the first time they had a woman. Her name was Nneka, the wife of Amadi....Nneka had had four previous pregnancies and childbirths. But each time she had borne twins and they had immediately been thrown away" (151). Nneka has suffered a lot of misfortune by constantly bearing twins, as well as a lot of sorrow as a mother by having to throw them into the Evil Forest. Christianity is seen a way for her to keep her children, and be happier than she has been with her husband, so she embraces it. ...read more.


In doing so, he also shows the reader just how much danger hatred and anger can cause. Finally, as the District Commissioner is having his messengers take down and bury Okonkwo's body, he reflects on his experience with the Nigerian tribes, and decides upon, "the title of the book: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger" (209). The power of internal separation is seen in its greatest advent at the very end. Observing what the hatred has brought Okonkwo to, the rest of the clan surrenders to the white man and allows itself to be conquered, or 'pacified,' as the white man claims. Now, not only has one man's entire legacy been eliminated, an entire culture and society's has as well. In conclusion, the story of Things Fall Apart teaches the reader about the importance of fairness and equality, and how a lack of either can destroy a person, a group of people, or even an entire culture. The lack of respect for women and feminine agbala drives several of them to join Christianity, which in turn ignites many more outcasts to join. With the separation within the clan of those sticking to tradition and those favoring the new religion comes a powerful internal conflict that starts to break apart the society, finally taking its toll in the end when the colonization is complete. The tragic story of Okonkwo, while unfortunate, is a valuable reminder about exactly why liberty is so powerful and so cherished by people of all colors, ages, genders, or religions throughout the world. ...read more.

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