Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart: Women's Roles in Umuofian Society

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Literature and Liberation- Prof. Sicari
December 3rd, 2012

Women’s Role in Umuofian Society

Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” depicts the downfall of the once great tribe of Umuofia at the hands of imperialistic European white men. However the downfall of this advanced tribe would come to be inevitable due to its numerous flaws, in terms of their “justice” system, extreme religious interpretations of the Oracle and perhaps most heavily because of their intensely misogynistic views. Umuofia’s harsh and brutal treatment of women in their society reveal the fact that women are not acknowledged to even be human, much rather they are treated as possessions – as property. Men believe women to be powerless, defenseless and ultimately useless but this ignorant belief proves to have detrimental consequences. These misogynistic views in turn become the very foundation upon which this society will unravel. With imperialistic missionaries arriving with the tempting offer of a different and more appealing lifestyle, the once united Umuofia will wither away.

Umuofia is a tribe located in Nigeria, Africa coming from humble beginnings, the means of success in this tribe come through hard manual labor such as farming. Having to start from scratch several times many men have solidified their status because of their persistence, earning themselves many titles. However, a man who earns no titles is referred to as an “agbala” (p. 13) – which also means women, but when used to refer to a male it is an insult. This exposes to the reader the fact that the word failure is synonymous with women, they are interchangeable, having the same meaning. In “women” being the choice word to insult a man it also paints the picture under which light women are viewed by men, to be a woman is to be unsuccessful and to carry no value. Another manner in which a man further reinforces his titles is in acquiring several wives. The number of wives a man has affects his social status,...
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