In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, the first theme that is apparent is how the clan interprets manliness or masculinity. Crops are one of the most important areas where manliness is determined in the clan, specifically yams. To the clan the “Yam stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed” (Achebe 33). If a man could not produce yams or could only produce “womanly” crops, they were not respected and could not hold a position. This shows the clan’s definition of manliness is upon their gods. If the land or weather did not work in the favor of man they needed to sacrifice to whichever god that was preventing the wellness of the crop. Yams to the clan are manliest crop, but Okonkwo defines manliness slightly different.
The protagonist, Okonkwo, defines his manliness on what his father was not. Because his father borrowed from others without means of returning, lived o...
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...women” (183). He tries to save his clan from being soft like women but intern is thrown in jail. When he sees the clan shifting to the European Christians, he does one of the most unmanly action possible, hanging himself.
Achebe uses the clan and Okonkwo to demonstrate the importance of manliness and the fear of change that the clan exhibits. When the weather changes, this creates fear because the weather effects how the crops do which affects the social status of the people. Okonkwo is more extreme compared to the clan. When his manliness is questioned he grows frustrated and acts involuntarily and reckless. When change comes into his life, Okonkwo fears losing his clan and his family to the European Christians. This, to Okonkwo, shows weakness and that he does not have control. He takes his life because he does not want to look weak by following the Christians.
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