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Debbie Li Ms. Hill 9th Grade English, Class 4 April 16, 2002 Ibo Culture In the novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, the Ibo culture considered women inferior to men and thus they did not participate equally in ceremonies. For example, women were not allowed to represent themselves, or partake directly in the justice system. This justice system consisted of egwugwu, which were masqueraders, impersonating ancestral spirits of the village, who arbitrated on matters of dispute. Women did not have a hand in the trial: "There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe, like outsiders" (Achebe 87). While seeming to be at least part of the ceremony, in actuality the women were little more than tokens, being present without actually participating.
However, the wife was not even allowed to defend herself, and was obligated to allow her male relatives to defend her to the egwugwu: " 'Let us hear Odukwe [the brother]. His words may also be good' " (Achebe 91). It was not even considered to ask the woman about her side of the story; it was immediately assumed that the brother would voice in his sister's defense. She was considered substandard, and the Ibo believed she would not have the ability to defend her own self. Another example of how women, because of their perceived "inferiority," did not partake fully in rituals was that they did not play a major role in their own wedding rituals, such as bride-price negotiations.
She returned to her mother's hut, as it would be unseemly for her to participate in her own marriage negotiations because it would seem too aggressive. Therefore, the daughter didn't have any voice or opinion on her future spouse, so she wasn't able to object to any flawed qualities he may have had. Since the Ibo did not trust her judgment, she had to depend on the assessment of her male relatives over her own. It is no wonder that the women of the Ibo people were the epitome of humility; in reflecting the opinion of their culture by being acquiescent, Ibo women did not involve themselves in the many ceremonies that defined the Ibo culture. ?? ?? ?? ?? Li 1
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