Gender Roles In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Quite often it is the traditional culture within a community that establishes the ideals that individuals are prompted to follow. Within the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the Igbo culture is a primary influence setting boundaries that define masculine and feminine roles in the clan of Umuofia. The actions carried out by men and women in the Igbo culture are crucial for defying the level of gender orientation one has, ultimately determining their position and importance in society. These gender roles that men and women are held to in Umuofia confine the individuals to the expectations established by the Igbo culture, limiting them of self-expression. In Things Fall Apart gender expectations limit the social freedom an individual …show more content…
For example, it was looked highly upon if a man was capable of attaining multiple wives, therefore if Okonkwo felt a connection amongst any women, it was then his choice if he wanted to further pursue a relationship. However, if a women sought interest in a man she was forced to break off any previous relationship before going forward with a new one. The gender role of attaining multiple wives for men in Igbo society places men in a higher position the more wives they acquire, while for women it does the complete opposite. Because for men having multiple wives shows that he must have the wealth and the masculine abilities to properly sustain, and control these women. This exemplifies how these opposing roles generally put men in a superior position to women. Daniel Jordan Smith in Romance, Parenthood, and Gender in a Modern African Society confirms this superiority amongst Igbo men when he states how “among Igbo men there is a certain pride in taking lovers. Being able to have lovers is sign of continuing masculine prowess and of economic success, because, increasingly, women expect their lovers to perform economically as well as sexually.” In other words, men are given a greater position the more wives they can obtain while “infidelity during a courtship is a personal violation” if done by a female (141). This …show more content…
The events that led to Okonkwo's suicide portray this to be the ultimate portrayal of masculinity. Okonkwo was angered when he came back to his clan to find the original culture being altered by the colonizers, this can be seen through the fact that he murdered one of the colonizers when he got the chance. However, it was not the colonizers that fully angered him, but instead the fact this his own community of individuals whom taught him his entire life to that they must fight for what they believe in and uphold their sacred culture and traditions, were following and accepting the new ideals of the colonizers. The Igbo culture shaped him to be the epitome of masculine yet when these colonizers came in, even the most highly looked upon individuals within his clan refused to fight these changes. The standard of masculinity within the Igbo society over the course of a short time was changed due to the colonizers. This left Okonkwo with what he was taught his entire life and that was to embody masculinity, therefore his culture ultimately led him to make the decision to take his own life. This exhibits how people of the Igbo society were not allowed the freedom of self-expression if it did not correlate with their individual sense of

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