Ib English Written Task

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Essay Outline
Prescribed question: How and why is a social group represented in a particular way? Title of the text for analysis: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe Part of the course to which the task refers: Part 3: Literature – text and context Key Points:

• Define masculinity in Okonkwo’s viewpoint
• Explore how Okonkwo never shows his emotions because of fear • Describe the struggle of Okonkwo’s strength
• Discuss the importance of Okonkwo’s reputation of Umuofia • Explain why Okonkwo emphasized on his masculinity

Critical Response
In Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, interpretations of masculinity were challenged. Masculinity commonly means the characteristics related to men. Okonkwo, a strong wrestler and leader, had his own attributes of what manliness was. According to Okonkwo’s definition of masculinity, men were presented as strong. Anything that did not demonstrate strength was considered as weak, which was not in his definition of masculinity. While masculinity meant having qualities of a man, Okonkwo was represented to show how he perceived a man truly defined through the factor of fear and why he displayed manliness in this approach. Okonkwo was afraid of showing emotions, because revealing any sentiments showed flaws. Okonkwo liked Ikemefuna and treated him as if he was his own son. However, Okonkwo did not show any emotions towards Ikemefuna. He thought showing affection was a sign of weakness. Due to his fear of imperfection, Okonkwo felt the emotions inwardly. The only real emotion he ever brought to life was anger. “The only thing worth demonstrating was strength.” (Achebe, 1994, p. 28) Showing emotions such as happiness or sadness was a portrayal of tenderness, which Okonkwo hated. If Okonkwo showed any emotion at all, it would be evidence that he was weak. In one scenario, Okonkwo had to choose his reputation of a strong male authority or his devotion to Ikemefuna, the one he thought of to...
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