Status of Woman as It Is Shown in the First Part of Things Fall Apart

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Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was first published in 1958; it is a very influential book not only in African literature but around the world. In teaching the reader about Ibo society, he also explains the status of woman in pre-colonial Africa. Things Fall Apart analyzes the destruction of African culture by the appearance of white man or the other, in terms of destruction of the bonds between individuals and their society. Things fall apart show a clear depiction of the status of woman in a male dominated society. I will talk about how woman are scrutinised as second class citizens, defenceless and subject to the authority of men, and woman in the Ibo society.

Women are almost always thought as the weaker, more vulnerable of the two genders. Woman in Things Fall Apart are lacking intensity and have inferior importance to men. Women are not respected as people, but as property, workers and the producers of children. A woman in the novel does not own any identity; her husbands’ status defines her.

Okonkwo was teased as a child by other children when they called Unoka who was Okonkwos’ father agbala. Agbala could either mean a man who had not taken any titles or meant “woman.” When Okonkwo described his tribe or family members he showed that in Ibo society anything strong had to do with man and anything weak has to do with woman.

In Ibo society they allowed wife beating. Things Fall Apart shows us two instances when Okonkwo beats his second wife, once when she did not make his lunch. He beat her brutally and was punished because he beat her in the week of peace which is sinning against the Goddess. Okonkwo beat her again when she referred to him as one of those “guns that never shot.”

The Ibo do assign important roles to woman. An excellent example of powerful women in the Ibo found in the role they play in the Ibo religion. For example, woman painted the house of the egwugwu. The first wife of a man was paid some respect. You see this at the...
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