Masculinity In Okonkwo Essay

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During the book, Okonkwo hates his father who acts very feminine according to the Igbo definition. Okonkwo’s actions are primarily based on his fear of becoming like his father so he rejects all characteristics that his father had. Throughout the story, we learn about how things fall apart for Okonkwo. The story starts off with Okonkwo living a normal life, beating his wives and farming, but then Ikemefuna joins the family as a tribute from another village to avoid war. Okonkwo starts to grow fond of Ikemefuna as he also has a positive influence on Nwoye, his son, because Nwoye starts to act more masculine. Soon, the oracle decides that Ikemefuna must be killed causing great problems for Okonkwo and Nwoye as Nwoye becomes more feminine in the…show more content…
An important characteristic of masculinity in the Igbo society was strength. “Yam stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed. Okonkwo wanted his son to be a great farmer and a great man.” (Achebe 33) In other words, men must be able to provide for the family and one who can is a great man. The motif of yams as a masculine crop is used to give more importance to men when it comes to providing for the family because yams are the main crop of the Igbo. This shows that men are required to work hard and farm for their family demonstrating that strength is required for a man. More important characteristic of masculinity include temper, destructiveness, and nourishment which is shown when Okonkwo is thinking about Nwoye converting to Christianity. He remembers, “He was a flaming fire.” (153) The metaphor used compares Okonkwo to a flaming fire which symbolizes not only destruction and a flaming temper, but also nourishment because a fire can support life by giving warmth and cooked food. This shows that masculinity is not only having a flaming temper and being destructive but also to help nourish the Igbo society, people, and families through their
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