Separate Spheres of Genders
Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” explores clashing gender roles. The women stay at home cooking and cleaning, only to be sold off as brides to their husbands and bear children. Men are active and aggressive, fighting wars and providing financially for the family. They have the power to physically beat their wives if they’re behaving unsatisfactorily. In the book, the old Ibo proverb “Mother is Supreme” is portrayed when Okonkwo gets exiled to his motherland. This proverb shows that no matter what happens between a child and their father, the child can always run to one’s mother. This holds the truth that mothers are the loving caretakers of the children in Ibo culture. The gender stereotypes divide the men and women in the society, creating separate spheres. Given the mother is supreme proverb, it is ironic that the Okonkwo society harshly oppresses its women. “Mother is Supreme” is the idea that one can always run to their mother where they are safe from their troubles. When Okonkwo was exiled, he went to Mabanta, his Motherland, and was accepted with open arms by Uchendu, his uncle. This point was exemplified when Uchendu explains why mother is supreme, “A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland” (134). The mother is there to protect the child unconditionally against the father. Mother is supreme because she is the protector, the adult the child can always depend on. When Okonkwo gets exiled from his fatherland, Mbanta, his motherland, welcomed and cared for him. Also “Mother is Supreme is shown when after Okonkwo told Nwoye that Ikemefuna was leaving, “Later, Nwoye went to his mother’s hut and told her that Ikemefuna was going home. She immediately dropped her pestle with which she was grinding pepper, folded her arms across her breast and sighed, “Poor child.” (58). When Nwoye received the news, he fled to his mother's...
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