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The Stronger Gender in Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

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“A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. . . . And that is why we say that mother is supreme” (p.134). In Achebe’s 1959 “Things Fall Apart”, female figures appear to have minor domesticated roles; however with these words Achebe calls attention to female strength within the tribe. Feminine power is recognized within the tribe, and fear of this power provides the foundation for the male obsession with displays of masculinity. Achebe highlights significant female goddesses, displays a solid feminine role in education, fully develops strong-minded female characters, and demonstrates masculine catastrophes, therefore establishes female as the stronger gender in the tribe.

Achebe’s whisper to feminine strengths in his novel was influenced by his intended 1950’s Western audience. Cobham suggests, as cited by Krishnan (2012), that “Achebe chooses representations of Igbo society that are most easily digested by a Western audience” (p.8). In the 1950’s with the end of World War II and men returning home, women’s value was regarded mainly as domestic housewives and mothers. Catalano (2002) illustrates the atmosphere in 1950’s United States explaining, “the Cold War placed an added emphasis on family unity as a defense against communism, making the role of women as wives and mothers crucial to the preservation of the United States and its democratic ideals” and submits, many “identify the 1950s as the pinnacle of gender inequality” (p45). For the benefit of his audience, the stock feminine characters Achebe made obvious mimicked that of 1950’s United States: the inferior female, domesticate...


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... Things fall apart. New York, NY: Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Catalano, Christina (2002). Shaping the American woman: Feminism and advertising in the 1950s. Constructing the Past 3(1), Article 6, 45-55. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/constructing/vol3/iss1/6
Jeyifo, B. (1993). Okonkwo and his mother: ‘Things Fall Apart’ and issues of gender in the constitution of African postcolonial discourse. Callaloo, 16(4), 847-859 Retrieved from http://www.ucd.ie/english/articles/balzano1.htm
Krishnan, M. (2012). Mami Wata and the occluded feminine in Anglophone Nigerian-Igbo literature. Research in African Literatures, 43(1), 1-18. doi:10.2979/reseafrilite.43.1.1
Nnolim, C. E. (1983). The form and function of the folk tradition in Achebe’s novels. Retrieved from http://ariel.synergiesprairies.ca/ariel/index.php/ariel/article/viewFile/1670/1629



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