Power of Women in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a commanding account about the rise and fall of an African tribe. The powerful narrative depicts the life and customs of the people and how they change through the years. Theere are many different ideas and characters that are preseneted throughout the novel. The depiction of women is one aspect that is of extreme relevance. It can be shown through several passages in the novel that the women are actually the unseen power behind the mighty Umofian tribe.
Throughout the novel, the protaganist, Okonkwo, tries to exhibit his power, wealth and independence. He feels that he must be the best in order to overcome the humiliating legacy that his father has left behind. Many times during the novel, he refers to any weak person as agbala which "was not only another name for woman, [but] it could also mean a man who had taken title" (Achebe 13). To Okonkwo, this particular name is the ultimate insult.
In contrast to Olonkwo’s perceptions, there are many illustrations in the novel which point to the power of women. One example is the gods that the members of the trive worship. An extremely important goddess to the tribe is "Ani, the earth goddes and the source of all fertility. Ani played a greater part in the life of the people than any other deity. She was the ultimate judge of morality and conduct" (Achebe 36). First and foremost, the most interesting thing to note is the idea of morality and conduct. The way that members of a community conduct themselves and the ethics which they hold are fundamentally important to the harmony of the people. It is especially fascinating that this goddess, who is the most important in the lives of all of the people, is the reigning goddess over their emotional lives. On other words, a woman is the governing factor over the men’s ethical livliehood.
Another issue that deals with the gods is the Oracle. The Oracle is the most powerful god to the tribe and they all believe ultimately in his power. The Oracle has a priestess by the name o Chielo who is a widow in the tribe. It is interesting that althought he god is male, its mouthpiece, or the way in which it communicates to the trive, is throught the priestess who is a woman.
It has been shown above how the woman as a religious figure has power over the trive. But there are other ways found thoughout the novel which illustrate women’s power. One such way is through the mother. A mother is of obvious importance to a child and to a community as a whole. The best illustration of this occurs during a talk Okonkwo is having with one of his uncles, Uchendu. Uchendu tells him:
It’s true that a child belongs to its father. But...