The Place of Women in Igbo Society (Things Fall Apart) Essay Sample

Womans are frequently thought of as the weaker. more vulnerable of the two sexes. Therefore. women’s functions in literature are frequently subdued and low-level. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. adult females are repressed by an entrenched construction of the societal repression. Women suffer great losingss in this novel but. besides in certain fortunes. hold enormous power. Achebe provides increasingly altering attitudes towards women’s function. At first glimpse. the adult females in Things Fall Apart may look to be an laden group with small power and this word picture is true to some extent. However. this word picture of Igbo adult females reveals itself to be prematurely simplistic every bit good as restricting. one time the reader uncovers the diverse functions of the Igbo adult females throughout the novel. The repeating subjects of gender struggles help drive the novel by demoing how of import adult females are to the work forces. yet they don’t receive the intervention they deserve. Although the adult females in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart are viewed in an inferior visible radiation by the Igbo work forces. there are besides happenings which showcase their strength and importance in the society.

All over the universe. particularly in developing states. adult females are non treated as peers. It is non any different in the Nigerian society portrayed by Chinua Achebe. In Thing Fall Apart. Achebe represents the female characters as they existed in Igbo civilization. which is without power but frequently emotionally strong. Although traditional Igbo civilization is reasonably democratic in nature. it is besides deeply patriarchal. The universe in Things Fall Apart is one in which patriarchate intrudes oppressively into every domain of being. It is a universe where the adult male is everything and the adult female nil. Igbo civilization regarded adult females as gentle. weak. and obedient to their work forces. The woman’s occupation was in the house taking attention of the kids. fixing the repasts and raising easy harvests. while the work forces did weather things such as contending. hunting. and raising hard harvests. In domestic footings. adult females are quantified as portion of men’s acquisition.

As married womans. adult females come in multiple Numberss. sandwiched between yam barns and rubrics. These three. married womans. yam barns. societal tiles- are the highest awards for the successful husbandman. warrior. and adult male of worth. These find a man’s societal position. as illustrated by Nwakibie. a adult male in Okonkwo’s small town. who has three barns. nine married womans and 30 kids and the highest but one rubric which a adult male can take in the kin ( 18 ) . The society that Achebe is depicting is an agricultural one in which the crop- the yam- is synonymous with virility. Achebe explains that this of import harvest bases for manfulness and was a “man’s crop” whereas coco-yam. of smaller size and lesser value than other yams is regarded as female ( 23 ) . This gender favoritism reinforces the impression that Igbo work forces are superior to adult females of their folk. Consequently. to bring forth an abundant crop. the traditional husbandman needs a good work force.

Women constitute the nucleus of the rural work force by farming. be givening animate beings. fostering kids. among other activities. They “weeded the farm three times at definite periods” ( 33 ) . In fact. their extended and strenuous labour makes possible the agricultural society Achebe portrays. Achebe depicts the stereotyped vision of adult females in Things Fall Apart through some male characters. one of them being Okonkwo. Okonkwo strives to do his manner in a universe that seems to value manfulness. His whole life was dominated by the fright of going like his male parent Unoka. who was a failure. He associated Unoka with failing. and with failing he associates muliebrity while maleness is associated with strength. In the Igbo society. feminine constructs and words are used to mention to weak things. So it is no happenstance that the word “Agbala” was non merely the name for a adult female but was besides referred to a adult male with no rubric ( 13 ) .

ALSO READ  Let’s Be Lefties for a Day Essay Sample

A representative of society at big. Okonkwo positions adult females as weak and foolish. Osugo. a fellow clanswoman has taken no rubric and in a assemblage of his equals. Okonkwo unkindly tells him. “This meeting is for men” . mentioning to Osugo as a adult female ( 26 ) . In add-on. it is an abuse to a adult male or boy if they possess any female qualities. Guilt ridden after slaying Ikemefuna. his foster boy. Okonkwo severely reprimands himself non to “become like a shuddering old woman” – this he considers the worst abuse ( 65 ) . Okonkwo besides relates negatively to his oldest boy Nwoye. who harmonizing to Okonkwo possess weak qualities and therefore Acts of the Apostless like a adult female. He wanted Nwoye to listen to “masculine narratives of force and bloodshed” instead than the narratives told by adult females which were for “foolish adult females and children” ( 54 ) . The narratives that work forces told were about courage and war and immature work forces were expected to listen to this alternatively of fairy narratives that adult females told.

“So Okonkwo encouraged the male childs to sit with him in his obeah. and he told them narratives of the land” – while Nwoye feigned that he liked the narratives his male parent told him to do him a adult male. he preferred his mother’s that he heard while turning up that kept his spirit gentle. Okonkwo has three married womans. who are the primary female figures in Things Fall Apart. His three married womans each hold changing functions of importance in the family merely as they do in the novel. The word picture of Ekwefi. Okonkwo’s 2nd married woman. about seems undistinguished to one reading from a patriarchal point of view. but when reevaluated. one will happen that she is a well of cognition. love. and ferocious independency. Although she was married to another adult male. Ekwefi was bold plenty to accept her strong desire for Okonkwo and abandon her hubby to be with him. She has endured much grief and stigmatism. She is considered a curst adult female because after 10 unrecorded births. merely one of her kid – a daughter-survives.

However. alternatively of go oning to keen her hardship. Ekwefi devotes her clip and energy to the one kid who does populate. and finds consolation in her relationship with her girl. Ezinma. Ezinma is one immature miss who elicits pure love from all the lives she touches. even her male parent. Okonkwo. However. he can non to the full appreciate Ezinma as a individual: “She should hold been a male child. he thought as he looked at his ten-year-old girl. . . If Ezinma had been a male child I would hold been happier. She has the right spirit” ( 64. 66 ) . Alternatively of look up toing her for her strength and temperament as a burgeoning adult female. Okonkwo is saddened by the fact that she is non male. All three of Okonkwo’s married womans “live in ageless fright of his fiery temper” ( 13 ) . They are ne’er to move without orders or inquiry them when they are given. exemplifying the degree of submissiveness a adult female must expose to be socially acceptable. In the 2nd chapter. Okonkwo brings Ikemfuna. a captive of war with a adjacent kin. into his place until the kin decides what should be done with him.

Okonkwo tells his senior married woman to look after him. She asks if the prisoner will be remaining for a long period of clip. And Okonkwo furiously replies. “Do what you are told. woman” ( 14 ) . In add-on. a adult male is non believed to be “manly” if he can non command his adult females. Thus we see that married woman whipping is an recognized pattern. Okonkwo often beats his married womans. and the lone emotion he allows to expose is anger. Okonkwo’s 2nd married woman. Ekwefi. was given a sound whipping because she simply cut a few foliages of the banana tree. In another incident. he beats his youngest married woman. Ojiugo. because she goes out to acquire her hair plaited and does non return in clip to cook the afternoon repast. However. the lone ground he gets punished is because it is the hebdomad of peace. In fact. it is frequently encouraged that work forces beat their adult females for penalty of “wrongdoings” and the adult females have no resort against it. Okonkwo’s attitude towards his married womans is declarative of intolerance for adult females. the association of failing and muliebrity and therefore intolerance of adult females and feminine features. In Addition. adult females can non meaningfully take part in societal personal businesss as the work forces do.

ALSO READ  “Manly Medea" An analysis of Euripides’ “The Medea" Essay Sample

A similar near-invisibility of adult females in Things Fall Apart is acknowledged by the all-knowing storyteller. Describing a communal ceremonial. he confesses. “It was clear from the manner the crowd stood or sat that the ceremonial was for work forces. There were many adult females. but they looked on from the periphery like outsiders” ( 87 ) . The averageness of the adult females is so rooted in their civilization that adult females barely of all time challenged it but merely accepted it as a manner of life. For centuries. African adult females languished on the periphery of their universe – neglected. exploited. degenerated. and so made to experience like foreigners. When Achebe writes on the tradition of the “egwugwu” . he states. “These adult females ne’er saw the interior of the hut. No adult females of all time did……No adult female of all time asked inquiries about the most powerful and the most secret cult in the clan” ( 88 ) . Yet. adult females were the one to scour and paint the outside walls of the hut under the supervising of work forces. This is a word picture of the degrading intervention of adult females in the Umuofian society. On one manus. Achebe shows that adult females were denied societal position but he besides presents incidents which demonstrated the concealed regard for adult females in this civilization.

In the communal ceremonial. Achebe chooses a instance affecting a woman’s wellbeing ; he tries to demo that a woman’s topographic point in Igbo [ movie ] society. though vulnerable. is non ever unappreciated. One can besides analyse that there was some kind of justness for [ movie ] adult females and their protection. In one of the incidents in Things autumn Apart. Okonkwo’s refusal to accommodate himself to the bend of events that led to his expatriate provides an juncture for a reminder of the significance of the female principal. at least at the degree of intension. when he is instructed by Uchendu. his maternal uncle. in the culture’s esteem of the female parent as beginning of life ; “It’s true that a child belongs to its male parent. But when a male parent beats his kid. it seeks understanding in its mother’s hut. A adult male belongs to his homeland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and resentment. he finds safety in his fatherland. Your female parent is at that place to protect you” ( 134 ) . It is in this statement that we witness the contradictory placing of adult females within Igbo society.

The civilization associates muliebrity with the critical principal is enunciated in resolute footings in the pronouncement “Nneka”- Mother is supreme. As a caretaker. as a sympathizer. adult female. or what the impression of adult female denotes is held in high regard. Yet the qualities that the thought of adult female connotes within the society. such as failing. are vilified. Womans are praised in their capacities as married womans and female parents but were non believed intelligent plenty for any other function. One such illustration is Anasi’s function as Nwakibie’s first married woman which is one of great regard. She is regarded about as a queen. have oning the anklet of her husband’s rubrics. She presides over the other married womans of her hubby and maintain them under control. Although adult females seem to play an inferior function in society. many traditions exemplify the value and importance of adult females to males in society. Womans are really the unobserved power behind the mighty Umuofian folk.

ALSO READ  Sociological Autobiography Essay Sample

They may be seen as subservient and weak. yet adult females are supreme in affairs of life and decease. An illustration of powerful adult females in the Igbo civilization is found in the function they play in the Igbo faith. The adult females routinely perform the function of priestess. Although most of the work forces in the society viewed adult females as weak. they put their complete trust in a adult female representative of the Oracle which sometimes directed their every move and whom they consulted every clip an of import determination was to be made. The storyteller recalls that during Okonkwo’s boyhood. “the priestess in those yearss was a adult female called Chika. She was full of power of her God. and she was greatly feared” ( 17 ) . The present priestess is Chielo. “the priestess of Agbala. the Prophet of the hill and the Caves” ( 49 ) . There is an episode during which Chielo has come for Okonkwo and Ekwefi’s girl. Ezinma. Achebe writes. “Okonkwo pleaded with her to come back in the forenoon because Ezinma was asleep. ” The priestess screamed. ‘Beware. Okonkwo’ ! she warned” ( 101 ) .

There is no other point in the novel in which we see Okonkwo “plead” with anyone else. male or female. The fact that Okonkwo allows this is grounds of the priestess’s power. The ability of a adult female to busy the function of a priestess. a religious leader. reveals a clear grade of fear for adult females being present in the Igbo society. Another word picture of such fear for adult females is unveiled in the representation of the Earth goddess. Ani. Ani is described as playing “a greater portion in the life of the people than any other divinity. She was the ultimate justice of morality and conduct” ( 36 ) . Ani’s power is farther illustrated through her function in the yam crop. It is of import that all members of the kin observe the hebdomad of peace prior to the crop in order “to honor great goddess of the Earth without whose blessing [ their ] harvests will non grow” ( 30 ) . For a female spirit to possess such an of import function in the success of the yam harvest is declarative of the existent deep-seated power of adult females. However unvoiced and powerless as she might hold been. an Igbo adult female however had “important roles” . We besides see adult females in their function as pedagogues. They were the primary pedagogues of kids.

Through storytelling and other signifiers of discourse. they educate and socialize the kids. inspiring in them rational wonder about societal values. relationships and the human status. The storyteller describes. “Low voices. broken now and once more by singing. reached Okonkwo from his wives’ huts as each adult female and her kids told common people stories” ( 96 ) . It is through storytelling that the kids learn of import lessons about nature and human status. are taught the Igbo creative activity of myths. such as the birds and the tortoise narrative. and master the art of communication by reciting the narratives themselves. The adult females help develop the artistic consciousness of the kids. in add-on to entertaining them.

These diverse functions of adult females in Things Fall Apart show that adult females are the foundation of the kin and its people. They are the changeless that can be relied upon ; they are the nurturers and caretakers of the people. These are non undistinguished. powerless functions. Womans in Things Fall Apart may look to be below the belt limited in footings of their authorization and power. However. upon diging beneath this lead oning surface. one can see that the adult females of the kin hold some powerful places ; spiritually as the priestess. symbolically as the Earth goddess. and literally as the nurturers of the Igbo people. the caretakers of the yam harvests and the female parent and pedagogues of the Igbo kids.