Division Of Labor Between Men And Women In Things Fall Apart

926 words - 4 pages

Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart was written about European colonization Africa. Throughout the novel language, social structure, and religion are all brought over by Europeans. Things Fall Apart focuses on the difference between genders in Igbo culture, a system of tribes, in Nigeria. Achebe uses a patriarchal society to describe the divide between the Igbo people. Okonkwo, the protagonist, is a great example of how all the authority in this African culture belongs to men. The representation of demanding African men, story telling, deprived African women, and Okonkwo’s fatal falling in Igbo society all contribute to the significance of what masculinity really is throughout ...view middle of the document...

According to Kwadwo Osei-Nyame, “ the ignominious predicament of his father, Unoka, simultaneously torments and propels him towards achieving his highest ambitions in life” (Nyame 151). Okonkwo feels the need to prove himself to his own people because his father wasn’t masculine at all. Unoka represents what not to do in the Igbo tribe to be considered a strong man.
Story telling has a distinct role between what is male or female in the Igbo tribe. Okonkwo tells “masculine stories of violence and bloodshed” while his wife tells creative origin stories to the children (Achebe 33). The differences in stories create more conflict between Okonkwo and Nwoye. Nwoye loves to hear his mother’s creation stories but knows that his father wants him to be a man. Okonkwo asserting control over what stories Nwoye can listen to eventually leads to various consequences throughout the book. In the same passage describing story telling, Okonkwo’s mother is finally mentioned. We discussed Okonkwo’s relationship with his father but his relationship with his mother is also important to the idea of how masculinity is perceived in this text. According to Biodun Jeyifo, “his mother’s stories and their significations evaporate into the generalized phallogocentric rubric of the ‘silliness’ of motherlore” (Jeyifo 849). Jeyifo is reiterating the fact that women are inferior to men even in the way they tell stories. Jeyifo is also trying to point out that the relationship with Okonkwo and his parents greatly contributed to what kind of character Okonkwo plays in the story.
Story telling in Things Fall Apart is not the only way that femininity is established in Okonkwo’s culture. One way Achebe builds his view on femininity...

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