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"Things Fall Apart" Oppression Essay

786 words - 3 pages

“We all know that a man is the head of the family and his wives do his bidding” (132). Here, Uchendu describes the male dominance and female suppression in Chinua Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart. Uchendu exemplifies one of the few male characters who understood and displayed gratefulness for the important role women played in his Igbo society. In this Igbo culture based on male prosperity—men were higher up on the social scale and earned more respect and honor if they possessed more riches, titles and wives. Women were regarded as unnecessary except for rearing children and performing tasks such as the equivalent of domestic chores. Suppression of women, false perceptions of their ability, and blatant disrespect for their rights are all reasons that masculine dominance is a highly important theme in Achebe’s book.One very prominent reason for the suppression of women in the Igbo tribe was manifest in their lack of opportunity to excel. Women everywhere have a desire to prove their worth—the Igbo tribe warranted no exception. Women were not physically or legally barred but an unwritten code understood and lived by all Igbo was the definite reason for their restricted freedoms. Every wrestling match consisted of solely male competitors--“The contest began with boys...” (47)...and it ended with boys. The egwugwu who remained masked at all times and maintained a commonly known yet supposedly hidden identity could not even tolerate a woman among them, blatantly disregarding any consult or opinion a woman had to offer to the tribe. Along with restraint from participating in certain activities women of the Igbo tribe were not allowed to take the titles of the clan that represented honor and achievement. Generally women do not possess such strong physical characteristics or competitive, violent natures that were venerated in the Igbo culture. Many of these manners came naturally to male clansmen therefore these men did not have to work so hard for the respect and dignity they deserved even as human beings. Women are not so commonly blessed in abundance with these traits as men are—they are very talented with child rearing and have the patience to deal with the continuous amount of monotonous women were expected to do everyday. Terms related to women were considered offensive and insulting. “Agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean...

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