Masculine Gender in Things Fall Apart

1215 Words5 Pages
Okonkwo struggled his entire life with his perception of manliness. Societal expectations and norms of power, strength, and achievement were only reinforced and amplified by his loathing for his father's laziness and "womanly qualities" such as compassion, warmth, and cowardice in war. This defiance to become the opposite of everything his father was created internal and external conflict that led to Okonkwo's eventual doom. Okonkwo's angry and power-hungry personality stems from experiencing the affects of his father's failure in life. Unoka, Okonkwo's father, "was lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow" (2937). "Unoka was, of course, a debtor, and he owed every neighbor some money" (2937). As a child and young man, he loved good company and festivities, the leisurely life, nature, and music. But as an adult, Unoka "was a failure. He was poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat" (2937). "Unoka was never happy when it came to wars. He was in fact a coward and could not bear the sight of blood" (2938). Okonkwo could only be ashamed of his father. In the Umuofia society, power, strength, and achievement were the measures of a man. "Fortunately, among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father…Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered" (2939). Okonkwo used this to his benefit and was able to "prove his manliness" to the people of his society. "His fame rested on solid personal achievements…He had no patience with unsuccessful men…He was a man of action, a man of war" (2936, 2937, 2940). Okonkwo achieved his goal and had become a man who was completely opposite of his father. Unfortunately, desires grow into passions and passions become obsessions. "And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion—to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness" (2940). The manliness and power of Okonkwo's attributes was plainly visible to everyone. He ruled his household with a heavy hand and was one of the hardest workers (and most successful) in the land. Many of his attributes were admired and respected, but his friends and neighbors were all well aware of his volatile nature, the trouble it caused him and the fear it instilled in others.
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