There Igbo culture gender roles and how it structures

There are millions of cultures around the world. Chinua Achebe’s so called “literary  masterpiece” gives a great insight into the Nigerian Igbo culture in the 1880’s. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Achebe defines the male dominant driving force for the Igbo culture gender roles and how it structures their society through Okonkwo and his family. All  male members of the Igbo society are influenced to act a certain way their entire life.The struggles and expectation of masculinity is often  talked about often and how Okonkwo’s son Nwoye “knew it was right to be masculine” despite his  own personalities and desires of his mother’s less violent stories( Achebe 53). At the beginning of novel the reader encounters the generalization, seemingly introducing the author’s message, that all young men are willingly accepting these prescribed roles  but this statement is then contradicted by the suggestion made later in the text that some men, like Nwoye, are reluctant to this male character given to them.  This opens up a significant inconsistency in the text. It suggesting male gender roles do not have to be necessary to this culture. The novel deals with the balance between men and women and how each should act and keep the balance of their livelihood. With the cultures roles centralized around men Okonkwo “ruled his house with a heavy hand” to celebrate their power as a man and a ruler( Achebe 13). Women serve a position inferior to men, often causing them to live in constant fear. Although Okonkwo’s behavior is not meritorious, he had the suitable right to be aggressive in his home due to the common male expectations. Anything that is necessary or desirable has a manly connotation. Nearly every aspect of  the Igbo culture even the Yam, the staple of their diet, Is considered “a man’s crop”(Achebe 28).This allows men to gain another advantage in their society by letting them be the most important provider in their family and deny the women of any potential. The Nigerian Igbo culture has a carefully structured balance between men and women with men being at the center. Chinua Achebe does a great job on interpreting their gender roles and how they contribute to their society.


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