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The Role Of Women In Things Fall Apart

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The Role of Women in Things Fall Apart In society, both males and females take distinct roles. It is those roles that keep “life” functioning; but which role is more important? Often times, women are degraded and forced into the roles viewed “unnecessary”. This is what happened in the Ibo society during Chinua Achebe’s book, Things Fall Apart. The presence of women was never really acknowledged, however, it was a backbone of society. Although in Chinua Achebe’s book, Things Fall Apart women are portrayed as weak and inferior, their role is vital to Ibo society.

First of all, women must be crucial because they serve as a comparison yardstick for men to measure themselves. When Okonkwo is troubled by Ikemefuna’s death, he asks himself, “”When did you become a shivering old women?'” (62) Following Nyowe’s conversion to Christianity Okonkwo notes, “A flaming fire could have begotten a son like Nwoye, degenerate and effeminate.’ (143) This illustrates that whenever a man is acting “sensitive” or “emotional” he is called a woman, as if an insult. Nyowe displeased his father. Upon Okonkwo gaining resentment, Nwoye became a woman. If Okonkwo didn’t diminunize women, what would have been the insult for Nwoye? It is obvious that women give the Ibo men that prerogative, therefore they are very important.

Secondly, women are critical because they complete the smaller, yet very needed jobs in society. Women painted the house of the egwugwu (84), the high council in the tribe. They also cooked and took care of the children. In fact, the children lived with their mothers. As Okonkwo tells his first wife upon the arrival of Ikemefuna, “”He belongs to the clan”¦So look after him”‘ (12). Often times, looking after the children is among the hardest of household jobs, and it is completed by the women of the Ibo. Women must be diligent and adequate, both qualities of needed professionals in a society. It isn’t even clear if the men could complete the jobs of women in their absence. It is possible that life could not go on without them. Hence, women accomplish the essential multitude of minor tasks which are needed for Ibo survival.

Finally, women’s importance is felt whenever a man gets himself in trouble and is banned from the tribe. When Okonkwo accidentally kills a boy of the tribe, he is banned to his motherland. “A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refugee in his motherland ” (135). When a man needs a place of comfort and forgiveness, he goes to his motherland. In other words, mother is supreme! The stereotypical characteristics of women are loving, accepting and comforting. Although men bash these qualities in everyday life, it is those same qualities that they search for when in need of a hand. It is not only hypocritical, but shows the importance of women. Without them, men would be forced to suffer their consequences alone. They wouldn’t have the help of the compassionate or the heart of the forgivers. Women are vital for these men, they have no one else.

As one can see, women are often underestimated, but they clearly are essential to the Ibo tribe. They complete the smaller jobs of the clan that need to get done, such as paint the house of the egwugwu and take care of the kids. They serve as a refugee for a misguided man and they are a basis of comparison for any man looking for improvement. Chinua Achebe wrote of these great women, it is a mystery why it took the rest of the world so much time to agree on their importance. Imagine what could have happened if the role of women was given a higher title from the beginning of the game. Women could have held higher jobs sooner. If women were given the proper credit for their roles in history, our economy might have been better; the energy towards fighting for/against women’s suffrage would have been saved; and women altogether would be happier.

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