Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

1067 words - 5 pages

In the book “Things Fall Apart”, evidence of a social structure was apparent within the Igbo community. This rigid social structure served as a purpose to balance the life of the people within the society, as well as promoting the downfall of the clan. The social structure was important in keeping a centralized society and preventing any sign of corruption within their clan. The social structure had advantages in keeping a balanced and equal society, supporting a division of labor, providing a surplus of food, individual huts, a communal society, and the development of some kind of government. In contrast, this social structure led others to reject to cooperate with the new religion and aided the lack of unity among the people. It also promoted a more patriarchal society, the inferior rank of women, and the lack of strong bonds between family members.
To start with, the advantages of the Igbo social structure included a balanced society, equality, distribution of labor, a surplus of food, separate huts, a collective society, and some form of government. A centralized society was achieved through the Igbo social structure. This structure served the purpose to impose the same religion upon the people to enforce a common belief. By organizing the society, the people could follow the idea of “unity” to prevent any conflicts or disagreements within the community. Along with a unified society, some kind of equal status came as a result of the social structure that has been established within the clan. Although the social hierarchy did not promote equal status between men and women, it did, to some extent, promote equality within the division of labor among the people. It relieved the pressure of stress, which may have been bestowed upon a single person, by equally dividing the chores among the family members. The men were responsible for tending to the fields and harvesting the yams. The wives of the family were responsible for caring for the children and carrying out the housework. Although the practice of polygamy may seem unfavorable to others, it served as a significant role in the society of the Igbo people. A significant amount of labor was needed to produce and harvest agricultural products to support the family. By marrying many women, the family can be supported through the use of many children. More children meant more labor, which would result in a surplus of crops to assist in the survival of the family. In addition to distribution of labor, individual huts were also an advantage in the social structure. By having the privilege to maintain your own hut, everyone was permitted to possess their own individual space.
Not only did the social structure allow one’s own personal space, but it promoted a communal society and the establishment of some sort of government. Among the Igbo people, there was a certain group of people called the egwugwu. The egwugwu consisted of a group of elders who represented the spirits of the ancestors. They...

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