We live in a man's world. Male dominated and controlled societies. It could be that it has been a cultural tradition, the man was given a more powerful and influential role in the community than women and it takes a long time for traditions to wear down. Or it could be the question of gender bias, the belief that man is stronger and wiser, thus the obvious choice for a leader. In “Girls at War” by Chinua Achebe and “The Collector of Treasures” by Bessie Head, the destructive nature of a patriarchal society is explored through the narrative voice and the use of irony.
In “Girls at War”, Achebe uses a third-person and heterodiegetic narrator. Yet, the voice is from a male perspective. The narrative focuses on the character Reginald Nwankwo and his thoughts and actions. This perspective doesn't directly tell about the harm of male dominance, instead it is up to the reader to interpret the text and notice the downfalls. Reginald Nwankwo compares female involvement in the war to children pretending to be soldiers. “He didn't doubt that the girls and women took themselves seriously, they obviously did. But so did the little kids who marched up and down the streets at the time drilling with sticks and wearing their mothers' soup bowls for steel helmets.” (2-3). The women in this story are criticized by the men for being simple and for being what men have made them into, for their own pleasure. Nwankwo clearly shows his ambivalence in this area when he muses that, “He might just as well slept with a prostitute... It was clear as daylight to him now that she was kept by some army officer. What a terrible transformation...” (9). He reflects on the problem without the realizing his part in it. The issues with patriarchy are clearly discussed in Bessie Head's, “The Collector of Treasures”. This short story is also from a third-person, heterodiegetic perspective, but the narrative voice is female and directly confronts the problem. The character,...
Cited: Achebe, Chinua. “Girls at War.” 1972. Ramraj. 1-12
Head, Bessie. “The Collector of Treasures.” 1977. Ramraj. 158-172.
Ramraj, Victor J. Concert of Voices, An Anthology of World Writing in English: 2nd Ed. Petersborough: Broadview Press, 2009. Print.
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