Things Fall Apart: Rhetorical Lenses

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THINGS FALL APART LENSES
Chapters One through Three: Marxist Lens
In chapters on through three of Things Fall Apart by China Achebe, it introduces the protagonist, Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a wealthy and highly regarded person in his village know as the Iguedo. Okonkwo’s main drive in life is to be manly and he actually fears weakness. He gained his title as a powerful warfighter by defeating Aluminize the cat in a wrestling match who, up until the fight with Okonkwo, was undefeated for seven years. The protagonist in this novel is also quite wealthy, as we see with his three wives, individually housed, and his eight children spread among them. At the end of chapter three, we learn why Okonkwo is as successful as he is, and that's because he was disappointed with how his father lived and he wanted to be completely different from him in every way.

The first section of chapters from this novel can easily be viewed through the marxist lens. The chapters immediately introduce all the characters as well as all of their customs. Here, readers can see how the tribe can be similar to today’s society because of the issue of money. The Iguedo also differs from today’s norms by excepting that similar traditions trump how they would instinctually run business. The marxism is well represented by China Achebe in this section.

The first three chapters of Things Fall Apart by China Achebe, We are introduced immediately to the complex rules of Okonkwo’s clan and its commitment to peaceful traditions. However, Okonkwo’s clan members, in some ways, abide by the same social structure that we do today. Unoka, the father of Okonkwo, was not wealthy, and because of this, he died shamefully of swelling; it was “an abomination to the earth goddess” (16 Achebe). He left numerous debts unpaid, so in return, he was left in the veil forrest so it wouldn’t offend the earth by being properly buried. The clan’s values still stand with economic status just as we do.

The first, second, and third chapters of Things Fall Apart also show the lighter side to the Igbo. The Iguedo is run in a way that is concerned with the group as a whole, with the exception of Okonkwo, who is very concerned with himself more often that not. For example, When Unoka’s rather hateful neighbor visits him to collect a debt, the neighbor does not immediately bring up the debt. Instead, he and Unoka share a kola nut and pray; afterward, they confabulate about community affairs. This is different from Okonkwo even though he uses the sam tactic, because he does it knowing it is the only way for him get the seed yams he wants. Achebe illustrates how the members of the Iguedo don’t really pay attention to social class, except for Okonkwo, because they all share the same customs.

Chapters Four through Six: Feminist Lens
Chapters four through six of Things Fall Apart begin with Ikemefuna becoming closer with Okonkwo and his son, Nwoye, as well as the rest of the family. The mood then takes a turn for the negative when Okonkwo beats his wife for not having prepared his dinner, but instead goes off and gets her hair braided. The Yam season comes and goes after the week of peace and festival is had in celebration. Okonkwo finds nothing of interest in the festival, and returns home. There he encounters the supposedly dead banana tree and beats his second wife, Ekwefi, for her talking back to him. Chapter six caps off this section with Ekwefi and Chielo discussing Ezinma (Ekwefi’s daughter) living due to her high age.

Choosing this section of chapters to look at through the feminist lenses wasn’t difficult because it deals with some traditional female stereotypes. The scene(s) where Okonkwo beats his wives stood out especially because it is not as common in the present. Women are also not expected to cook for their spouses like they used to, due to women’s abilities to get a job and earn a living now-a-days. Lastly, women are allowed to question men today without punishment, but...
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