Things Fall Apart Gender

1014 Words5 Pages
The Dogon’s belief that the absence of one of the two genders creates chaos in the world is used in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (1958). Throughout the novel, Okonkwo, the male protagonist, considers females around him as inferior. Weakness and emotions, according to Okonkwo, are ‘womanly’ characteristics that a real man should not get acquainted with. This can be related to his hate towards his father, Unoka, who is described as being a coward and an agbala (woman) (Achebe, 1958: 11). The word ‘agbala’ in itself holds another meaning in relation to the position of woman in Umuofia society, for, besides meaning a woman, agbala is used to refer to a man who has no title, thus giving him an inferior position beside the female. Female…show more content…
Ezinma and Chielo are able throughout the novel to voice their ideas with a kind of authority and power even in the presence of males. The first, Ezinma, is Okonkwo’s daughter which he praises for being ‘tougher’ than her brother, Nwoye. Due to this, Okonkwo cannot hide his regret and disappointment of her being born a girl, for he expresses that he would be happier if she were a boy (ibid: 48). However, the presence of Ezinma and her relation with Okonkwo can be considered as a means to show the positive side of Okonkwo’s character, for when she fell sick, her father spends a whole night preparing medications for her (ibid: 72). From this perspective, Ezinma’s character is used to show the emotional side of Okonkwo and his ‘manhood’. Chielo, on the other hand, is portrayed as both a normal woman and a priestess of the Oracle. In her normal life, Chielo is a widow, which, according to Stratton, gives her a sense of freedom from any kind of ‘male hierarchy’ over her (Stratton, 1994: 25). Beside this, Chielo is a representation of the duality in the spiritual world, as mentioned earlier in the Dogon’s mythology. The gods and goddess presented in Things Fall Apart are based on the notion of the duality of gender. For instance, Chielo is a priestess for the male God, the Oracle. Also, such indication can be found in the narrated folktale stories by Okonkwo’s wives about the earth goddess, Ani, and the god of the sky, Chukwu. The balance of genders that the spiritual world of Umuofia society in Achebe’s novels reflects upon indicates at the same time the chaos that Okonkwo’s world develops to. By ignoring females and their importance in his life, Okonkwo fulfils Obierika’s warning when he commits suicide, thus giving in under Ani’s
Open Document