Literary Analysis of Things Fall Apart

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In Things Fall Apart the Igbo society is dominated by gender roles. Husbands beat their wives just for bringing food a few minutes late. Women are completely discriminated against. In fact, it is an insult to call a man an agbala (a woman). To men, women exist in a world in which they are "to be seen not heard, coming and going, with mounds of foofoo, pots of water, market baskets, fetching kola, being scolded and beaten before they disappear behind the huts of their compound" (Mezu 2). However, the role of women is far more essential than the male villagers believe. Achebe repeatedly refers to the masculinity or femininity of a person. Though Achebe seems to believe that men seem to dominate relationships, in fact, there are many ways in which Achebe "emphasizes female characteristics… and critiques [the] inflated sense of masculinity" (Bennett 2). The main character in Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, has trouble balancing the femininity and masculinity in his life (Appiah 2). He believes that only masculinity can hold society together. Okonkwo rejects everything that reminds him of being coward-like or feminine. According to Robert Bennett, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Okonkwo "is a man out of balance who has only developed one half of his full self because he only accepts the masculine side of his culture" (2). Because of Okonkwo's objection to everything feminine, he has a rocky relationship with his father. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo refers to his father, Unoka, as an "agbala." Unoka, was extremely artistic musically gifted, coward-like, and in great debt. These are all the things Okonkwo related to being feminine. All of the hate for his father's weaknesses led him to be cruel to the true feminine species. Okonkwo is known for beating his wives harshly. During the Week of Peace, a week in which the beating of wives is prohibited, Okonkwo's youngest wife goes to have her hair braided and forgets to cook dinner. Okonkwo breaks the...
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