The Women of Umuofia in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1991 Words8 Pages
The Women of Umuofia in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart The only women respected in Umuofia are those like Chielo, the priestess of the Oracle of the Hills and Caves, who is removed from the pale of normalcy. Clothed in the mystic mantle of the divinity she serves, Chielo transforms from the ordinary; she can reprimand Okonkwo and even scream curses at him: "Beware of exchanging words with Agbala [the name of the Oracle of the Hills and Caves]. Does a man speak when a God speaks? Beware!" (95). Yet if Okonkwo is powerless before a goddess's priestess, he can, at least, control his own women. So, when Nwoye's mother asks if Ikemefuna will be staying long with them, Okonkwo bellows to her: "Do what you are told woman. When did you become one of the ndichie [clan elders]?" (18). Perhaps Umuofia's shabby and degrading treatment of women and wives stems from unconscious fear of, rather than reverence for, the ubiquitous and capricious Earth goddess Ani or Ala, who wreaks such havoc on the townspeople s lives. She is the goddess of fertility. She also gives or withholds children; she spurns twin children who must be thrown away; she prohibits anyone inflicted with shameful diseases from burial in her soil. To the men of Umuofia, she must seem the embodiment of the two-faced Greek furies and Scylla and Charybdis joined together -- vengeful, unavoidable, and incomprehensible. Umuofia s men can compare to the ancient Greeks who were noted for similar female images such as Pandora, Circe, Medea, and Clytemnestra. In helpless, mortal dread of a fearsome divine female principle, they come down heavily indeed on ordinary women whose lives they can control as they like. A cursory look at the place o... ... middle of paper ... ...e African Novel: Essays in Analysis. London: Saros International, 1992. pages Nwapa, Flora. Efuru. London: Heinemann, 1966. ---. Idu. London: Heinemann, 1970. Ogunyemi, Chikwenye Okonjo. "Women and Nigerian Literature." Perspectives on Nigerian Literature. Vol. 1. Lagos, Nigeria: Guardian Books, 1988. pages Okonkwo, Juliet. "The Talented Woman in African Literature." African Quarterly 15.1-2: pages. Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. New York: Norton, 1976. Thiong o, Ngugi wa. Petals of Blood. London: Heinemann, 1977. ---. Devil on the Cross. London: Heinemann, 1982. Walker, Alice. "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens." In Search of Our Mothers Gardens: Womanist Prose. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1983. 231-243. Weinstock, Donald, and Cathy Ramadan.
Open Document