Masculine Versus Feminine Power
In many cultures, even today, there are stereotypes about women; i.e. that their job is to cook and clean, or that they are not as strong as men are. Many people would probably admit that they view men as tougher individuals whose responsibility is to protect and put food on the table. This theme of the male versus female power constitutes as prevalent in both Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. These authors intricately weave this idea into their novels through their characters’ specific duties, their characters’ behaviors and emotions, and the way children are viewed and treated according to gender. Both novels are set in the late 19th, early 20th century, but take place in two completely different cultures. Things Fall Apart is set in Nigeria in the village of Umuofia while The Good Earth is set in a little farming village in Anhwei, China. Regardless of location and culture, both novels portray similar viewpoints towards men and women.
“Hey woman, get back to the kitchen!” Every young lady has heard this joking remark before, but to the Ibo tribes that is no laughing matter. In the village of Umuofia, it is understood that a woman’s job is to cook, clean, and conceive children, while men are expected to work hard and provide food and money for their families. Okonkwo, the male protagonist of Things Fall Apart, must grow yams and tap palm wine. Then, at every mealtime, each of Okonkwo’s three wives prepares him a separate meal and serves him before they eat. The women must also clean, “Okonkwo’s wives had scrubbed the walls and the huts with red earth until they reflected light” (Achebe 32). O-lan and Wang Lung, characters from The Good Earth, also have similar responsibilities. On her first night of being Wang Lung’s wife, O-lan cooks a wedding fest for him and his friends, then wakes up and brings him tea in bed the next morning. Even though it is only Wang Lung’s duty to farm, O-lan also...
Cited: Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Atlanta: Holt, 1958. Print.
Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth. New York: Pocket Books, 1931. Print.
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