Chinua Achebe's Tragic Work "Things Fall Apart".

1189 words - 5 pages

Throughout time, women have been oppressed and had to struggle in severaldifferent places and throughout all different time periods; female suffering over time,has become a hot topic of examination and argument. Both Chinua Achebe's tragic workThings Fall Apart, as well as the article "Women in Achebe's World" written by feministprofessor and literary critic Rose Ure Mezu, examine the intricate roles both men andwomen play in society. While Achebe's novel relays no contentment for dominated andexploited women, Mezu's work analyzes the complex role women play in Achebe'snovel. The vast differences between the men and women in Igbo culture are seen fromthe observable male domination in all aspects of life, the contrasting roles each genderassumes in the marriage ceremony and the complicated positioning of female deities onthe realm of religious devotion.The traditional male command of all social characteristics reveal the tremendousdifferences between the two sexes in the Umuofia tribe. The extent of the male complexis evident through the clan's farming customs. Achebe relates that "Yam stood formanliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was avery great man indeed" (33). This parallel between the chief crop and males is expected.Mezu relates how "...the yam -- is synonymous with virility." Women are not seenfarming, and rarely outside, far form contact with these important crops; as Mezucommunicates, they are embarking on more feminine activities, rather "tending animals,[and] nurturing children." It is somewhat comical that this relationship is so extensivethat it is seen even in the field of agriculture, but is a clear validation of the socialstrictures. Additionally, the ceremonial village gathering with the egwugwu embodies themale superiority in the tribe. The egwugwu materialize from a hut in which no womenare allowed to enter. The narrator continues relating how "It was clear from the way thecrowd stood or sat that the ceremony was for men. There were many women but theylooked on from the fringe like outsiders" (87). Men were dominant in controlling theproceedings of the clan, whereas women had little or no say. Mezu analyzes thischaracteristic of Umuofia life, saying how "for centuries, African women languished onthe fringe of their universe -- neglected, exploited, degenerated, and indeed made to feellike outsiders. They were not invited to stay when men were engaged in anydiscussion...they did not form part of the masquerades representing the judiciary andancestral spirits" (Mezu par. 9). This complete segregation epitomizes the situation of themale dominated lifestyle.The contrasting roles each gender assumes in the marriage ceremony reveal thespectrum of inter-sex relations. One morning, the village is festive because Okonkwo's friend, Obierika, is celebrating his daughter's uri. The bride, her mother, and a few other women are present to shake hands with the circle of men, then leave. People eat and...

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