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Gender Roles In Things Fall Apart

816 words - 4 pages

For most of recorded history, and even today, women have and continue to pursue gender equality. In the past, women were treated as the inferior sex. They were forced to rely on men to provide for them, and to make their decisions for them. Thanks to the women of previous generations, today women have more independence and credibility, and the gender gap is significantly smaller. Chinua Achebe’s tragedy Things Fall Apart takes place in a pre-colonial Nigerian village community in the 1890s, where the gender gap is still very decided. Gender roles play a big part in the story’s progression and we see how this imbalance between genders negatively impacts men as well as women. The tragic hero, ...view middle of the document...

Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop” (23). Another example is found in the village’s justice system; “The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent” (124). The female is the lesser of the two, reflecting the ranking of gender in the village. As an insult, men who take no title are called agbala, which also means woman. So even the lowest men are on the same level as women. One of these men was Okonkwo’s father, a man named Unoka.
Umuofia’s values influence Okonkwo’s personality, making him hyper-masculine and aggressive. But there is another force driving him to reject anything feminine or weak, his father. Unoka, was lazy and effeminate. Everyone in the village looked down upon him for not taking any titles and not being able to provide for his family. Okonkwo saw this at a young age and was deeply ashamed of his father; “Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala” (13). Okonkwo strives to distance himself from the embarrassment of his genes, from his father’s lethargy; “...his whole life was...

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