Okonkwo Gender Expectations Analysis

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Gender roles play a very important part in today’s society. Throughout the decades, gender expectations have been created and forced on both men and women. These expectations tell the different genders what their responsibilities are and how they should act according to society. What is expected of men and women has created a massive division between the various existing genders. The roles and expectations of the genders are seen everywhere, especially in the media. The standards that men and women are held up to can be damaging at times and creates limitations for people. Gender norms aren’t only enforced in Western societies, and they can be seen playing an immense role in the lives of people across the globe. In Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things …show more content…
Okonkwo’s misguided understanding of the gender expectations in the Ibo culture impact his decisions regarding Ikemefuna intensely because he kills a person he considers family in order to be seen as masculine and not weak. Okonkwo’s decision to kill Ikemefuna was the result of his standards and expectations of men. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo had a father who was a failure and too weak to even have a title in Umuofia which contributes to Okonkwo’s idea of gender norms. Due to the obstacles and struggles, Unoka, the father, faced, Okonkwo strives to become his father’s opposite and the strongest man he can be. Okonkwo continuously acts a certain a way to appear to be manly and macho. Ultimately, his thoughts of a man having to act barbaric and violently to be seen as masculine leads to the death of Ikemefuna. The fear of weakness in Okonkwo is clearly seen when Achebe writes, “Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (61). What is demonstrated in the text is that Okonkwo only willingly killed Ikemefuna because he thought it was what was expected of him. Okonkwo has a …show more content…
After killing Ikemefuna, Okonkwo begins to question his sensibility and immediately begins to feel guilt, but tries to suppress it. To be a man, to Okonkwo, there must not be any feelings or expressions involved because only women are allowed to feel such emotions. Because of Okonkwo’s continuous insecurity, he tries to avoid feeling repentant. The way Okonkwo feels about his emotions can be observed when he begins telling himself, “ “When did you become a shivering old woman. Okonkwo asked himself, “you , who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman” ” (Achebe 65). The remorse Okonkwo feels inside him can be clearly seen in the way he reacts to these uncommon feelings. Since Okonkwo begins to feel sadness and regret, he immediately calls himself a woman. In Okonkwo’s world, a woman is inferior to the man and she must always look after her husband.A woman to him is an overly emotional person and that makes the mere feel of anything that isn’t anger a weakness of a man. The gender expectations Okonkwo has learned as a child in his society has pushed him to kill for small motives. The murder of a man he considered a son was the consequence of the misinterpretation of gender

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