Chinua Achebe's tragic work "Things Fall Apart".

Essay by KDDOBHigh School, 12th gradeA+, September 2003

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Throughout time, women have been oppressed and had to struggle in several

different places and throughout all different time periods; female suffering over time,

has become a hot topic of examination and argument. Both Chinua Achebe's tragic work

Things Fall Apart, as well as the article "Women in Achebe's World" written by feminist

professor and literary critic Rose Ure Mezu, examine the intricate roles both men and

women play in society. While Achebe's novel relays no contentment for dominated and

exploited women, Mezu's work analyzes the complex role women play in Achebe's

novel. The vast differences between the men and women in Igbo culture are seen from

the observable male domination in all aspects of life, the contrasting roles each gender

assumes in the marriage ceremony and the complicated positioning of female deities on

the realm of religious devotion.

The traditional male command of all social characteristics reveal the tremendous

differences between the two sexes in the Umuofia tribe.

The extent of the male complex

is evident through the clan's farming customs. Achebe relates that "Yam stood for

manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a

very great man indeed" (33). This parallel between the chief crop and males is expected.

Mezu relates how "...the yam -- is synonymous with virility." Women are not seen

farming, and rarely outside, far form contact with these important crops; as Mezu

communicates, they are embarking on more feminine activities, rather "tending animals,

[and] nurturing children." It is somewhat comical that this relationship is so extensive

that it is seen even in the field of agriculture, but is a clear validation of the social

strictures. Additionally, the ceremonial village gathering with the egwugwu embodies the

male superiority in the tribe. The egwugwu materialize from...