Masculinity In Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

756 Words4 Pages
Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is seen as the archetypal African novel in English. A milestone in African literature, Things Fall Apart serves to present the belief that Africans have a right to a culture and community of their own apart from the one established by the colonists for them. Achebe advocates the preservation of a society with a rich history and cultural beliefs. Society in Things Fall Apart is controlled by man; and this society, a man’s reputation and livelihood is dependent on his possession of masculine traits. These masculine traits are defined by Achebe’s presentation of masculinity in the novel. According to some scholars, “Achebe drives men by the fear of appearing too womanly” (Hacht 519). By clearly defining gender roles, Achebe asserts the importance that masculinity has in the society. The following will examine the author’s portrayal of masculinity in the novel and its impact on the social and cultural fabric.
In order to understand Achebe’s presentation of masculinity we must first examine the traits that define masculinity in Things Fall Apart. According to some scholars the traits the define masculinity are closely related to “heroic behavior” and distinguishes one “above other males, then far above the other sex.” (Maduagwu 1). Such traits are seen throughout the novel in the protagonist Okonkwo. Okonkwo is the head of his home and rules his household with a heavy hand. Okonkwo’s definition of masculinity is anything his father Unoka wasn’t. Okonkwo sees his father as feminine character and believes him to be a failure. Okonkwo’s fear of resembling his father motivates to acquire masculine traits so that he may not be considered weak as his father was. The following observation by a scholar gives us a ...

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...aftez 38). In the novel, Okonkwo is the provider of the house, and not only is he the provider of the family, he is one of the most successful breadwinner’s in the village. Okonkwo manages to harvest a lot of yams every year and has a surplus making him very rich. To add to this, Okonkwo portrays a hardworking man considering his humble beginnings as a poor child who used his spite for his father to get where he is today. He did not inherit any of his wealth and earned it in its entirety. A masculine trait in itself. Through hard work and sacrifice Okonkwo’s provides for his family. An illustration of this hardworking character is found in the following passage: “work[ing] daily on his farms from cock-crow until the chickens [go] to roost” (Achebe 10). Okonkwo’s ability to provide well for his family and work hard adds to his masculinity and masculine reputation.
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