Things Fall Apart

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[Final Essay]
2009130902 Jang Eunji
Tuesday/Thursday

Topic: What is the role of women in “Things Fall Apart”?

Generally, in Ibo society of the book “Things fall apart”, women have no power and represent weakness. They have no right to attend the egwugwu ceremony, and wife beating is allowed except for Week of Peace. However, women are not always portrayed as an inferior entity under the men. Even in this sexiest society, women have significant roles that men do not have, and the priestess of Agbala, Ekwefi, and Ezinma reflect those roles. Priestess shows that women can have powerful authorities, Ekwefi plays an important role as ‘mother-strong protector and refuge’, and Ezinma represents women’s emotional strength by comforting Okonkwo sincerely.

Different from normal women in the Igbo society, the priestess is a woman of dignified appearance and has powerful authority representing Oracle. At the beginning of chapter 3, Chika, the priestess of Agbala, pointed out Unoka’s laziness, and scorned him in serious manner that he should be a ‘man’. Another priestess, Chielo illustrates power of woman more directly. Chielo is a normal widow with two children in ordinary times, but, as a priestess, she exhibits powerful authority beyond men, especially Okonkwo. When she came to his hut to bring Ezinma, Okonkwo’s favorite child, to Oracle at night, even the extremely masculine Okonkwo was very careful to show respect to Chielo and he finally could not disobey against her order. Moreover, Chielo screamed and warned to Okonkwo that whatever he said, she had to take Ezinma to Agbala. There is no other point in the novel in which we see Okonkwo “plead” with anyone, male or female, for any reason. We witness a woman not only ordering Okonkwo to give her his daughter, but threatening him as well. The fact that Okonkwo allows this is evidence of the priestess’s power. The ability of woman to occupy the role of a priestess, a spiritual leader, reveals a clear degree of...
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