Gender And Sexuality
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Arrow of god focuses on the fight for authority between the Africans and the Europeans. An identified issue within the novel is gender and sexuality. Masculinity plays a role in the disunity amongst the people and is reflected through the conflict of power characterizing the competition between the struggles of change. This is revealed through the display of different communities and backgrounds causing harm throughout the tribe as well as the British colonial administration.
The urgency of power is represented within the demands of Man. In Arrow of god, the men withhold the power in their families with aggression. In simpler terms by abusing the title of head of the household. For example, when Ezeulu addresses either of his wives Matefi or Ugoye, he shouts at them utilizing foul language as though they are less of him. He doesn’t allow his wives, who should possess mutual power as if they were marital partners, to have any say. The masculine identity places importance over the feminine qualities and the aspects related in the social structure. In the patriarchal Igbo society, the Igbo women are excluded from the decisive power along with the right to voice their opinion. The men held the right to make laws, controlled the economy, declared wars, and anything else that had to do with bring in control. The women were not given the importance in the social meetings, not even the spiritual practices. The women are portrayed throughout the novel as similar to a child in the sense that they have to be silent. In Achebe and his Women: A Social Science Perspective, Merun Nasser states “ Anglophone African writers have always included women in their writings. However, for most part, women have been portrayed in the literature in a subservient role quite unlike their traditional role. The traditional role of the African woman has always been a complementary role and evidence of that fact has been widely supplied by social scientists.”, it seems as though there is a larger downplay to the role a woman has played within Arrow of God and there is a continuous pattern within Achebe’s books.
As presented in the novel Ezeulu was the symbol of power for the entire Umuaro and the six villages making the community. Ezeulu claims the status of the chief priest, meaning he is intermediate to god and the clan. He allowed the his power to give him a big head. Not only was the size of his ego a problem, but there was also the division of power amongst him, Ezidemili, and Nwaka. The three men were of importance within the community but also fought for power causing the division of their people. This ties into gender and sexuality due to the typical “alpha male syndrome”. Every man is thinking for himself instead of everyone as a whole so he can get ahead.
Yam crop is at the center of it all, which connects the God and the clan. The relationship between Yam and masculinities is represented as the scale to measure manliness. In other words, if you don’t have enough yams you aren’t enough “man”. The masculine identity of the Igbo people in Nigeria during the colonial period reflects the issues of individuality and the status. Ezeulu has a hard time continuing his identity as a Chief Priest of the God Ulu. His downfall sprouted from his pride and his need for vengeance.
Aside from exploring the relationships between the different villages of Umuaro, Achebe digs into the conflicts within Okperi where there is an interaction nteraction between the colonialists and the colonized. We get an insight to the dominant power of the colonizer from the tyranny of Captain Winterbottom. The colonizers’ abuse their power with gross indiscipline and cruelty. Their humiliation of the local people is a disgrace. When Ezeulu gets arrested and is imprisoned for a few weeks all because of his refusal to be a warrant chief, Mr Wright forces Obika and others to build a new road without remuneration. Obika is whipped simply because Mr Wright does not like his facial expression and “boldness”. They use their powers for the bad in which they enjoy exploiting their own people as well as others. The colonialists have their own conflicts resulting in petty jealousies and rivalry which elevate to more serious spiteful acts. An example would be the senior ones denying promotions to the younger or junior officers out of spite. Winterbottom is a perfect example. He has been in the colonial service for a long time, yet he seems to have avoided it in terms of elevation.
There is a resemblance in the abuse of power however those of the Igbo tribe are not as severe as the British colonists. The novel focuses on the characteristics of the individual’s belongings to the uniformal society that is surrounded by the spread of Christianity amongst Igbo people. The provoked hostility and use of force displays the roles of gender . Achebe reveals the unpredicted change in the native culture by expressing the role of control within each society as well as against each other. Customs as the part of cultural patterns identify the characteristics of British power in Nigerian Igbo tribe.