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” portrays the failure of the as soon as excellent tribe of Umuofia at the hands of imperialistic European white males. Nevertheless the failure of this advanced people would become unavoidable due to its numerous flaws, in regards to their “justice” system, extreme spiritual analyses of the Oracle and perhaps most greatly since of their extremely misogynistic views.
Umuofia’s severe and ruthless treatment of females in their society expose the fact that ladies are not acknowledged to even be human, much rather they are treated as ownerships– as property. Male think ladies to be helpless, unprotected and ultimately useless but this oblivious belief shows to have destructive consequences. These misogynistic views in turn become the very structure upon which this society will unwind. With imperialistic missionaries getting here with the appealing offer of a different and more enticing lifestyle, the as soon as united Umuofia will wither away.
Umuofia is a people located in Nigeria, Africa coming from simple starts, the ways of success in this tribe come through hard manual work such as farming. Having to start from scratch several times lots of men have strengthened their status because of their perseverance, making themselves numerous titles. However, a guy who makes no titles is referred to as an “agbala” (p. 13)– which likewise means women, but when used to describe a male it is an insult. This exposes to the reader the fact that the word failure is associated with ladies, they are interchangeable, having the exact same significance.
In “females” being the option word to insult a guy it likewise paints the image under which light females are viewed by guys, to be a lady is to be not successful and to carry no value. Another manner in which a male even more enhances his titles remains in acquiring numerous wives. The number of better halves a man has impacts his social status, exhibiting that females are belongings of men. It’s a numbers video game with men, using ladies as their pawns so they can further embody the “true significance” of what it is to be a guy Additional exhibiting the misogynistic views of this society is demonstrated in the domestic abuse females face at the hands of their spouse.
Okonkwo, an aggressive being by nature is no different towards his better halves. In Chapter 4, Okonkwo strongly beats his third and youngest partner, Ojiugo, “And when she returned he beat her extremely heavily” (p. 29) because when he got back food was not yet prepared and she rather of having a hot meal awaiting him went to get her hair intertwined. Okonkwo blind in his rage beats her completely claiming carelessness, totally forgetting the truth that it was the sacred Week of Peace– “His two better halves ran out in fantastic alarm pleading with him that it was the spiritual 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 exposes simply how corrupt the Umuofian justice system is, Okonkwo is penalized not because he laid his hands on his better half however since of the time in which he did it. It is not frowned down on when a male hits a female, in fact it is encouraged and Okonkwo from time to time threatens to kill his partners.
It is not considered as monstrous when a male beats a woman in this society and is praised, they feel as though ladies should be kept in line and know their tasks in addition to total them completely anything less is negligence and physical abuse is their get up call. Contributing to the reality that males can get away with striking their spouses, the very couple of times in which this justice system does side with women it is extremely partial– with men fairly receiving a slap on the wrist. This is displayed in Chapter 10, a conflict that comes before the egwugwu (the clan’s ancestral spirits) that includes a husband and wife.
The husband, Uzowulu, states that the three brothers of his better half, Mgbafo, beat him and took her and the kids from his hut but would not return her bride-price. The woman’s bros validate their actions in specifying that Uzowulu beat their sibling mercilessly. They state 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 incorrect in his methods, “I wed 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 explanation and how he treats his better half is no ones oncern. This declaration proves that he views his spouse 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 choose in favor of Mgbafo, telling Uzowulu to take a pot of red wine to his in-laws. One village older grumbles that such a very little matter ought to not be brought prior to them, again exposing the fact that domestic abuse is not seen as a concern in this society. In Umuofia, there are two kinds of criminal activities that can be dedicated, feminine criminal activities and masculine criminal activities.
Okonkwo accidentally eliminates a clansman throughout a funeral, this crime falls under the category of feminine because it wasn’t a killing on purpose– “Okonkwo had actually devoted the female, due to the fact that it had actually been inadvertent.” (p. 124). In classifying criminal offenses under these two types the reader receives insight as to what qualities refer to each gender in the eyes of this society. Feminine criminal offenses are accidental, without intent, unintentional– these characteristics all connect with the manner in which males see women, carrying negative connotations that make it seem as though females don’t have strength.
Masculine criminal activities on the other hand lie on the other side of the spectrum; these criminal offenses include blunt, direct acts with an intent or function to be finished. These characteristics are a few of the numerous males wish to possess in their attempt to fulfill what it is to be a man. Males are strong with a sense of direction and function therefore are these criminal activities. Okonkwo agrees with the society’s interpretation of genders, primarily in his wishing that his child, Ezinma, were a kid.
Ezinma, is Okonkwo’s favorite kid, he enjoys her quite however does disappoint love towards her due to his worry of being deemed weak by the guys of his people. Any feeling besides anger is a feminine emotion in the viewpoint of Okonkwo. Several times throughout the unique Okonkwo captures himself wishing that Ezinma were a kid, “If Ezinma had been a boy I would have been happier. She has the ideal spirit” (p. 66). Okonkwo claims that she would have been the perfect kid, strikingly similar in their nature and frame of mind, Ezinma fulfills all the qualities her daddy desires in his kids- other than for one.
As she is a female all of these talents and qualities will go on untouched and unused. Society feels as though it is the responsibility of a female to bear children, “prosperous males and great warriors your daughter will bear us sons like you” (p. 117). Ezinma has shown 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 change the fact that she is a female and he will never be able to change his misogynistic views.
Okonkwo is really capable of feeling womanly emotions but as for exposing and revealing them he is blind in his immense resentment towards his daddy, Unoka, and whatever he represented. These misogynistic views take a toll on the tribe and prove to become their undoing. Christian missionaries soon show up to the people with the intent of transforming as a lot of the people members as possible, providing them with a tempting offer that shows to lure one too many for the liking of Okonkwo.
On the surface area Okonkwo withstand the execution of Christianity because it is not “manly” enough, but frankly it is the deep rooted worry of losing social status that avoids him from embracing this religion. His sense of self-regard is solely based upon the conventional requirements by which society judges him. The system of examination that the Christians present causes a number of the tribe members accept Christianity; the examination of self, not ownerships is what made up one’s worth.
Those who were once outcasted, rejected and belittled found worth in Christianity. In their new neighborhood, these converts take pleasure in a more elevated status– no longer being the underdog was a more then welcomed modification, the greatest underdog of them all being ladies. Presently, Works Pointed Out Achebe, Chinua. Things Break Down. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print. Denny, Frederick Mathewson, Carlos M. N. Eire, Martin S. Jaffee, and John Corrigan. Jews, Christians, Muslims: A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.