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Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Women’s Roles in Umuofian Society


Literature and Freedom- Prof. Sicari December 3rd, 2012 Women’s Function in Umuofian Society Chinua Achebe’s “Things Break down” illustrates the downfall of the when great people of Umuofia at the hands of imperialistic European white males. Nevertheless the downfall of this advanced people would come to be unavoidable due to its numerous flaws, in regards to their “justice” system, extreme religious analyses of the Oracle and perhaps most greatly because of their extremely misogynistic views.

Umuofia’s harsh and brutal treatment of females in their society expose the fact that women are not acknowledged to even be human, much rather they are treated as possessions– as residential or commercial property. Men believe women to be powerless, defenseless and ultimately useless but this oblivious belief shows to have destructive consequences. These misogynistic views in turn become the really structure upon which this society will unravel. With imperialistic missionaries getting here with the appealing offer of a different and more appealing lifestyle, the when joined Umuofia will wither away.

Umuofia is a tribe located in Nigeria, Africa originating from simple starts, the means of success in this tribe come through difficult manual work such as farming. Needing to start from scratch numerous times many males have actually strengthened their status since of their perseverance, making themselves lots of titles. Nevertheless, a guy who earns no titles is described as an “agbala” (p. 13)– which likewise indicates women, but when used to describe a male it is an insult. This exposes to the reader the reality that the word failure is synonymous with women, they are interchangeable, having the very same significance.

In “women” being the option word to insult a male it likewise paints the picture under which light women are seen by guys, to be a female is to be not successful and to carry no value. Another way in which a guy further enhances his titles remains in getting a number of other halves. The variety of partners a male has impacts his social status, exhibiting that women are possessions of guys. It’s a numbers game with guys, using women as their pawns so they can further embody the “true significance” of what it is to be a man Additional exhibiting the misogynistic views of this society is shown in the domestic abuse women face at the hands of their spouse.

Okonkwo, an aggressive being by nature is no various towards his other halves. In Chapter 4, Okonkwo strongly beats his 3rd and youngest better half, Ojiugo, “And when she returned he beat her extremely greatly” (p. 29) due to the fact that when he arrived home food was not yet ready and she rather of having a hot meal awaiting him went to get her hair braided. Okonkwo blind in his rage beats her brutally claiming negligence, totally forgetting the fact that it was the sacred Week of Peace– “His 2 better halves went out in fantastic alarm pleading with him that it was the spiritual week” (p. 9). For beating his better half throughout the Week of Peace, Okonkwo is penalized, the priest demands that Okonkwo compromise a nanny goat and a hen and pay a fine of one length of fabric and one hundred cowries. This scene reveals just how corrupt the Umuofian justice system is, Okonkwo is penalized not since he laid his hands on his other half however because of the time in which he did it. It is not frowned down on when a male hits a female, in truth it is urged and Okonkwo from time to time threatens to kill his better halves.

It is not deemed monstrous when a male beats a female in this society and is praised, they feel as though females should be kept in line and understand their tasks along with complete them fully anything less is neglect and physical abuse is their awaken call. Contributing to the truth that men can get away with striking their wives, the really few times in which this justice system does side with females it is very partial– with guys fairly getting a slap on the wrist. This is shown in Chapter 10, a dispute that comes before the egwugwu (the clan’s ancestral spirits) that includes a couple.

The husband, Uzowulu, states that the 3 bros of his wife, Mgbafo, beat him and took her and the kids from his hut however would not return her bride-price. The lady’s brothers justify their actions in stating that Uzowulu beat their sibling mercilessly. They specify that Uzowulu’s penalty if Mgbafo returns with him will be that his genitals be cut off if he ever beats her once again. Uzowulu declares that he sees no wrong in his methods, “I married her with my money and my yams, I owe them no cocoyams” (p. 90) is his defense. He feels as though he owes his in laws no description and how he treats his wife is no ones oncern. This statement shows that he views his partner as just another ownership of his, he paid the price and he can do as he pleases with her from that point forward. The egwugwu choose in favor of Mgbafo, informing Uzowulu to take a pot of white wine to his in-laws. One town senior grumbles that such a minimal matter should not be brought prior to them, once again exposing the reality that domestic abuse is not seen as an issue in this society. In Umuofia, there are 2 types of criminal offenses that can be committed, womanly criminal offenses and masculine crimes.

Okonkwo unintentionally kills a clansman throughout a funeral, this criminal activity falls under the category of feminine due to the fact that it wasn’t a killing on function– “Okonkwo had actually committed the woman, because it had been unintended.” (p. 124). In categorizing crimes under these 2 types the reader receives insight as to what attributes pertain to each gender in the eyes of this society. Womanly criminal offenses are accidental, without intent, inadvertent– these qualities all associate with the manner in which guys see women, bring negative connotations that make it appear as though women don’t have strength.

Manly criminal offenses on the other hand lie on the opposite of the spectrum; these criminal offenses include blunt, direct acts with an intent or purpose to be completed. These qualities are some of the many males wish to have in their attempt to satisfy what it is to be a guy. Males are strong with a sense of direction and purpose and so are these criminal offenses. Okonkwo agrees with the society’s analysis of genders, mainly in his wishing that his child, Ezinma, were a boy.

Ezinma, is Okonkwo’s favorite child, he enjoys her quite however does disappoint love towards her due to his fear of being deemed weak by the guys of his people. Any emotion other than anger is a feminine emotion in the opinion of Okonkwo. Multiple times throughout the unique Okonkwo catches himself wanting that Ezinma were a boy, “If Ezinma had actually been a kid I would have been better. She has the ideal spirit” (p. 66). Okonkwo claims that she would have been the perfect son, noticeably similar in their nature and frame of mind, Ezinma fulfills all the qualities her daddy desires in his children- except for one.

As she is a woman all of these talents and qualities will go on untouched and unused. Society feels as though it is the task of a lady to bear kids, “flourishing males and fantastic warriors your daughter will bear us sons like you” (p. 117). Ezinma has proven herself time and time again but will constantly stop working in the eyes of Okonkwo, through the love and fondness he has for her she will never have the ability to alter the truth that she is a female and he will never ever be able to alter his misogynistic views.

Okonkwo is extremely efficient in feeling feminine emotions but as for exposing and expressing them he is blind in his enormous resentment towards his daddy, Unoka, and whatever he represented. These misogynistic views take a toll on the people and show to become their undoing. Christian missionaries soon arrive to the tribe with the intent of transforming as a number of the tribe members as possible, presenting them with a tempting deal that shows to attract one too many for the liking of Okonkwo.

On the surface area Okonkwo withstand the implementation of Christianity because it is not “manly” enough, but frankly it is the deep rooted fear of losing societal status that prevents him from welcoming this faith. His sense of self-regard is solely based on the traditional requirements by which society judges him. The system of examination that the Christians present causes a number of the people members welcome Christianity; the examination of self, not ownerships is what made up one’s worth.

Those who were once outcasted, rejected and belittled discovered worth in Christianity. In their brand-new neighborhood, these converts delight in a more raised status– no longer being the underdog was a more then invited modification, the biggest underdog of them all being females. Currently, Functions Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print. Denny, Frederick Mathewson, Carlos M. N. Eire, Martin S. Jaffee, and John Corrigan. Jews, Christians, Muslims: A Comparative Intro to Monotheistic Religions. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.

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