Status of Women in Things Fall Apart

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The Role and Status of Women
When reading Segu and Things Fall Apart, the role of women is a major part of each novel. Their roles are alike in some ways but at the same time they have some slight differences. In Achebe’s text, women do not seem to be of much importance in their day to day life, but they are crucial to the spiritual wellness of their culture. In Conde’s text though, the women are much more respected by the people in their tribe.

The level of reverence for women differs greatly in each novel. In Things Fall Apart, women were often abused for anything they may have done wrong. For example, Okonkwo beat his second wife twice, once because she was late returning home and had not yet prepared his meal. He was then only punished because it was the week of peace (Achebe 24). The second time was when he thought she killed his banana tree and she had told him she just cut a few leaves from it to wrap food. “Without further argument Okonkwo gave her a sound beating” (Achebe 33). From this you obtain a strong sense that women were not very well respected among the Ibo tribe. On the contrary in Segu, men would turn to their wives for comfort. When Dousika was dismissed from the king’s council he just wanted to feel loved. “Then he heard Nya’s footsteps in the entrance to the hut. He would have liked her to pity him, to console him as if he were a child” (Conde 35). This would not have been the case at all in Okonkwo’s tribe. Instead of trying to be comforted, Okonkwo might have used his fists just to take his anger out on somebody.

Women in the Ibo tribe were not respected as people either. They were thought of as property to the men, producers of children, and laborers. The women were to take care of the children, educate them, prepare the meals, and take care of the harvest. Although the women did not grow the yams, because they were considered a “man’s crop”, they grew other types of harvest that became just as important to the...
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