In “Things Fall Apart”, by China Achebe, gender roles are a heavily reoccurring theme
throughout the book. Men are the head of the household and work for their family. Women stay
home to cook, clean, and take care of the children. Sons are held in a higher regard to daughters.
Men are expected to be manly, strong, and fearless. While women are not expected of such
because they are considered less than.
First lets look deeper into gender roles in the household. For starters, Polygamy is present
but only men can have several wives while women can only have one husband.An example of
this is ”Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest,
lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper […] “(2.12). Within that Okonkwo associates
masculinity with aggression and feels that anger is the only emotion that is respectable. For
example, he frequently beats his wives, even threatening to kill time and time again. Women are
really only valued at all for their ability to bear children.
Next we will look at gender roles relating to traditional customs. Even the crops are
gendered (Okhamafe 127). Coco-yams, beans, and cassava were “female crops” (Achebe 23).