Igbo Gender Roles

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The Ibo society requires people of different genders to act a certain way. Men have to act aggressive and active, whereas women have to be calm, and stay at home with children while serving her husband. If someone acts different than society tells them to act, they are disliked by the community and shunned by their family. These gender roles in Things Fall Apart, a novel by Chinua Achebe, are a prominent theme in the book because of Umuofia’s traditional culture, contributing to the meaning of the novel through the beliefs that keep the community together and functioning. In the Ibo society, men have to be violent and aggressive to be considered masculine. Boys are encouraged to “sit with [their fathers] in his obi, and he told them stories of the land -- masculine stories of violence and bloodshed. Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent” (Achebe 53). If a boy is determined “not masculine” by the society because of his passive personality, it brings his whole family dishonor and shame. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, was a calm, passive man, who enjoyed music more than war.…show more content…
They are considered the husband’s property in the Ibo society. A woman’s only purpose is to bear sons and to bring honor to their husband, by the amount of wives he had. A man’s honor was based on how many wives and children he had. “There was a wealthy man in Okonkwo’s village who had three huge barns, nine wives, and thirty children” (Achebe 18). Women also have to be submissive to their husband and allow him to treat her as if she is property. Okonkwo “was always happy when he heard [Nwoye] grumbling about women. That showed that in time he would be able to control his womenfolk” (Achebe 53). The society does not allow for women who were tough or equal to their husband. A woman’s only purpose in the Ibo society is to serve and please her husband by bearing him children and doing housework and
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