Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

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Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart tells the story of the people of an Igbo village in Nigeria. In Igbo society, the traditions and gender roles are strict, and being a woman or viewed as feminine is a negative thing. Okonkwo, the novel’s protagonist values the traditions of his clan, but is controlled by the fear of being perceived as weak or effeminate. This fear causes Okonkwo to make decisions that are frowned upon by his fellow villagers, creating conflict. In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe utilizes Okonkwo’s desire to be perceived as masculine through the act of putting his own interests above those of the clan in order to portray how Igbo society is negatively affected by gender roles. Gender roles are the norms and behavior that society expects each gender (male and female) to adhere to. So, for example, in the novel men are expected to provide for their families and women are expected to be submissive to their husbands. The idea of gender roles has a negative effect on Igbo society because it enslaves people to a gendered way of life that can, at times, limit people from expressing their true feelings out of fear of breaking societal expectations.
It is clear that Igbo society is one dominated by the patriarchy. For the most part, any negative aspects of a man, are automatically associated with that of women. There are exceptions to the negative perception of women in Igbo society. One of these exceptions is the idea that “Mother is supreme” because a woman is able to comfort her children and be a place of refuge. But aside from this, the reader is introduced to the idea of women being second-class citizens to men early in the text, just as Okonkwo learns this societal value early on in life because his father Uno...


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... affected Igbo society.
Throughout Things Fall Apart, there is evidence of how gender roles affect Igbo society. For example, Nwoye suppresses the fact that he would rather listen to his mother’s stories than Okonkwo’s because he needs to uphold society’s expectation that males would prefer to listen to something more “masculine”. In fact, Igbo society is so gendered that even the crops that are grown are associated with being male or female. Okonkwo is a character who is ruled by fear, which stems from his desire to be perceived as masculine. This need to be perceived as masculine leads Okonkwo to do what he wants regardless of how his actions will affect the clan. At times, Okonkwo goes directly against the will of others, which for him, proved to be consequential. Okonkwo is a prime example of how gender roles negatively affect Igbo society in Things Fall Apart.

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