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

Literature and Liberation- Prof. Sicari December 3rd, 2012 Females’s Role in Umuofian Society Chinua Achebe’s “Things Break down” illustrates the downfall of the once great tribe of Umuofia at the hands of imperialistic European white males. Nevertheless the downfall of this sophisticated tribe would come to be unavoidable due to its various flaws, in terms of their “justice” system, extreme religious analyses of the Oracle and possibly most greatly since of their intensely misogynistic views.

Umuofia’s harsh and harsh treatment of females in their society reveal the reality that females are not acknowledged to even be human, much rather they are dealt with as belongings– as home. Guy believe females to be powerless, defenseless and eventually useless however this ignorant belief proves to have harmful effects. These misogynistic views in turn become the very structure upon which this society will decipher. With imperialistic missionaries arriving with the appealing offer of a different and more attractive lifestyle, the as soon as unified Umuofia will wither away.

Umuofia is a people located in Nigeria, Africa coming from humble beginnings, the means of success in this people come through tough manual labor such as farming. Needing to go back to square one several times lots of men have actually strengthened their status because of their persistence, earning themselves lots of titles. However, a male who makes no titles is referred to as an “agbala” (p. 13)– which also means ladies, but when used to describe a male it is an insult. This exposes to the reader the reality that the word failure is associated with ladies, they are interchangeable, having the same meaning.

In “ladies” being the option word to insult a male it also paints the image under which light ladies are seen by men, to be a lady is to be not successful and to carry no value. Another manner in which a guy further strengthens his titles remains in obtaining numerous partners. The variety of wives a male has affects his social status, exemplifying that females are belongings of males. It’s a numbers video game with males, using women as their pawns so they can even more embody the “real meaning” of what it is to be a male Further exemplifying the misogynistic views of this society is shown in the domestic abuse women face at the hands of their partner.

Okonkwo, an aggressive being by nature is no various towards his spouses. In Chapter 4, Okonkwo strongly beats his third and youngest better half, Ojiugo, “And when she returned he beat her really heavily” (p. 29) due to the fact that when he got back food was not yet prepared and she rather of having a hot meal waiting on him went to get her hair braided. Okonkwo blind in his rage beats her extremely claiming neglect, entirely forgetting the fact that it was the spiritual Week of Peace– “His 2 better halves went out in fantastic alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week” (p. 9). For beating his other half throughout the Week of Peace, Okonkwo is punished, the priest demands that Okonkwo sacrifice a nanny goat and a hen and pay a fine of one length of cloth and one hundred cowries. This scene reveals just how corrupt the Umuofian justice system is, Okonkwo is punished not because he laid his hands on his spouse but because of the time in which he did it. It is not frowned down on when a male hits a woman, in reality it is encouraged and Okonkwo from time to time threatens to kill his spouses.

It is not considered as monstrous when a male beats a female in this society and is applauded, they feel as though ladies must be kept in line and understand their responsibilities along with complete them totally anything less is neglect and physical abuse is their awaken call. Adding to the fact that males can get away with hitting their wives, the very couple of times in which this justice system does side with females it is very partial– with men relatively receiving a slap on the wrist. This is shown in Chapter 10, a conflict that comes prior to the egwugwu (the clan’s ancestral spirits) that involves a husband and wife.

The other half, Uzowulu, mentions that the 3 brothers of his wife, Mgbafo, beat him and took her and the children from his hut but would not return her bride-price. The female’s bros validate their actions in mentioning that Uzowulu beat their sis mercilessly. They mention that Uzowulu’s punishment if Mgbafo returns with him will be that his genital areas be cut off if he ever beats her again. Uzowulu declares that he sees no wrong in his methods, “I wed her with my cash and my yams, I owe them no cocoyams” (p. 90) is his defense. He feels as though he owes his in laws no explanation and how he treats his wife is nobody oncern. This declaration shows that he views his better half as just another belongings of his, he paid the cost and he can do as he pleases with her from that point forward. The egwugwu decide in favor of Mgbafo, informing Uzowulu to take a pot of white wine to his in-laws. One village older complains that such a very little matter should not be brought before them, again exposing the reality that domestic abuse is not seen as an issue in this society. In Umuofia, there are two types of crimes that can be devoted, feminine criminal activities and masculine criminal activities.

Okonkwo inadvertently kills a clansman throughout a funeral service, this criminal offense falls under the category of feminine because it wasn’t a killing on function– “Okonkwo had actually committed the female, due to the fact that it had actually been unintended.” (p. 124). In categorizing criminal activities under these 2 types the reader receives insight as to what characteristics refer to each gender in the eyes of this society. Womanly criminal offenses are unexpected, without intent, unintentional– these qualities all associate with the manner in which guys see females, bring negative connotations that make it seem as though females do not have strength.

Masculine crimes on the other hand lie on the opposite of the spectrum; these criminal offenses consist of blunt, direct show an intent or function to be completed. These qualities are some of the lots of males want to possess in their effort to fulfill what it is to be a man. Guys are strong with an orientation and function and so are these criminal offenses. Okonkwo agrees with the society’s analysis of genders, mainly in his wanting that his child, Ezinma, were a kid.

Ezinma, is Okonkwo’s favorite kid, he likes her quite however does not show affection towards her due to his fear of being viewed as weak by the guys of his people. Any emotion aside from anger is a feminine feeling in the viewpoint of Okonkwo. Several times throughout the unique Okonkwo captures himself wanting that Ezinma were a young boy, “If Ezinma had actually been a young boy I would have been better. She has the right spirit” (p. 66). Okonkwo declares that she would have been the perfect kid, noticeably comparable in their nature and frame of mind, Ezinma satisfies all the qualities her daddy desires in his children- except for one.

As she is a female all of these skills and qualities will go on uncharted and unused. Society feels as though it is the task of a female to bear sons, “flourishing males and great warriors your child will bear us boys like you” (p. 117). Ezinma has proven herself time and time once again but will always stop working in the eyes of Okonkwo, through the love and fondness he has for her she will never be able to alter the reality that she is a female and he will never be able to change his misogynistic views.

Okonkwo is extremely efficient in feeling feminine emotions but as for exposing and revealing them he is blind in his immense resentment towards his dad, Unoka, and whatever he represented. These misogynistic views take a toll on the tribe and show to become their undoing. Christian missionaries soon arrive to the people with the intent of converting as many of the people members as possible, presenting them with an appealing offer that proves to entice one a lot of for the preference of Okonkwo.

On the surface Okonkwo resist the execution of Christianity since it is not “manly” enough, however frankly it is the deep rooted fear of losing societal status that avoids him from welcoming this religious beliefs. His sense of self-respect is entirely based upon the standard requirements by which society judges him. The system of assessment that the Christians present causes much of the tribe members accept Christianity; the evaluation of self, not possessions is what made up one’s worth.

Those who were when outcasted, rejected and belittled found worth in Christianity. In their new community, these converts take pleasure in a more raised status– no longer being the underdog was a more then welcomed change, the greatest underdog of them all being ladies. Currently, Functions Pointed Out 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 Relative Intro to Monotheistic Religions. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.

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