Things Break Down: Nature and Culture in West Africa
Every society has aspects that structure its culture which are customizeds, norms, and customs. In addition to these structures, culture is likewise formed by a society’s environment. In some regions, nature is the most substantial aspect of a culture’s identity. In the book Things Break down by Chinua Achebe, the reader is provided a look into the structure of a West African village called Umuofia.
In Umuofia, culture and gender are closely associated to nature. This link has shaped everything from the genders of their gods to the separation of work that men and women were expected to do. Nature in this West African society is a powerful force that is intertwined with the life and culture of the Umuofia individuals.
In the book Things Fall Apart, Achebe highlighted how instrumental nature was in defining gender structures in Umuofia society. For example men and women cultivated different crops based upon the crop’s viewed masculinity or femininity. In Umuofia, yams were considered the “king of the crops” and were related with masculinity.
Men were anticipated to plant, cut, and cultivate yams. According to Achebe, yams were the source of power in Umuofia society, and a man’s worth was measured by the quantity of yams he produced each year. Women on the other hand were anticipated to plant and cultivate crops such as melons and beans because those crops were equated with femininity.
Other separations of work relating to nature and gender were that females were expected to prepare, clean, and keep their households. Guy were needed to satisfy manly job such as, chopping wood, tapping palm trees for white wine, and structure huts.
Nature likewise affected West African’s gender perceptions concerning their gods, for example the “great goddess of the earth” whom the Umuofia people worshiped, was deemed a female god with the capability to recreate and renew the land. The “fantastic goddess of the earth” was symbolized as a female divine being since of her relationship to a woman’s capability to replicate and bear children, like the land does every year by flourishing and crops for the village.
Nature had an extensive effect on the gender relationships in Umuofia society. The villagers used nature as a method of drawing borders between masculinity and femininity. Whatever in Umuofia society was structured into gender roles, even the task of farming had to be structured by gender.
Moreover, the easy art of story informing needed to be genderized to keep society’s gender structure. Innocent fairy tales were thought about womanly and womanly, while stories of death and gore were thought about masculine manly stories. Gender is highly structured and is very essential in preserving West Africa identity and culture in the Umuofia society.
The Power of Females in Umuofia
Countless ladies around the world reside in male dominated societies. Governments, militaries, households, and neighborhoods continue to be dominated and managed by males. However, throughout history females have actually always handled to apply some kind of power within their societies.
Whether, it was as subtle as a spouse rebelling versus her husband or as bold as a queen protecting her country, these examples reveal that females have constantly held some type of power in their societies. The book Things Break down by Chinua Achebe records the essence of this dynamic through the females in Umuofia society, who despite the obstacles they dealt with in a polygamous and patriarchal society they still handled to preserve some kind of power within Umuofia society.
One woman that had power in Umuofia society was Chielo who was the Priestess of the Oracle god Agbala. The Oracle had incredible impact in Umuofia society due to the fact that it was believed that the Priestess had the powers of the god Agbala. Everybody in Umuofia society feared Priestess Chielo consisting of the male seniors who governed Umuofia society.
The Priestess played an essential role in society because she offered recommendations to the villagers who eavesdroped fear of angering the god Agbala. The Oracle also used her power to avenge women who were mistreated by their partners. This happened when the Priestess Cheilo ordered a kid named Ikemefuna eliminated due to the fact that she knew Okonkwo (who was the primary character in the story) was close to the young boy to get vengeance on him for beating his partner.
In addition, the priestess was not the only female in the Umuofia society with power. The females of the Umuofia village likewise had power as a cumulative unit. The females was accountable for safeguarding the crops and punishing individuals with heavy fines if they were responsible for destructive another villager’s crops. This was demonstrated in the story when a cow got loose and all the women in the village were obliged to safeguard and protect the crops from the cow. As a cumulative unit the ladies had the ability to exert some power in Umuofia society.
Women in Umuofia society might likewise rebel against their hubbies if they thought their husbands were being incredibly cruel. Although domestic abuse prevailed for females in Umuofia. Some ladies would run away with their kids to their homelands to escape the abuse. In one circumstance in the story, a guy’s partner left him and he had no control on whether she would take him back.
Rather he was forced to plea prior to the senior citizens of the town for his other half’s return or for the return of her bride-to-be cost if she selected to remain separated from him. This is an example where a woman was actually holding power over a man in Umuofia society.
The ladies in Umuofia society dealt with sustaining hardships however they were still able to retain some type of power in society. Ladies had very little power in West African society however they had simply adequate power to have an influence on their society. Even in death women were permitted to be buried with their forefathers as a symbol to their enduring effect and traditions within a patriarchal West African society.