Studying The Lgbo Tribes Division English Literature Essay

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If ever there was a major division between men and women, it was in the Igbo tribe. The Igbo tribe was a tribe which did not see the division between men and women as a gender division, but rather as a division between two species. Men and women were treated so differently that it would be fair to say that men and women were two entirely different creatures. One creature, being the men, dominated the women and denied them their freedom, and yet the species of men were nothing without its women.

In Things Fall Apart we see a great division between men and women; it is almost as if there is a great wall which divides the genders into two parts. Men are seen as the rulers of the land and whenever a link is drawn between a man and a woman, its intention is to insult the man. Everything in the Igbo's daily life has a link with gender, even something as simple as food symbolizes a man's power or lack thereof, "…but they grew women's crops, like coco-yams, beans and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man's crop." Yams are given great importance in the novel; they symbolize a man's success and a man's ability to care for his family. If a man were to grow a women's crop, he would be considered weak and a failure. A woman is seen as a person who has only one goal in life, that is to care for her family, she cannot gain any title or ever gain the respect of her male tribe members. A woman is born destined to achieve nothing; she has no say in important matters and will always be regarded as inferior to men. "'This meeting is for men.' The man who had contradicted him had no titles. That was why he had called him a woman. Okonkwo knew how to kill a man's spirit." This part of the novel reinforces the idea that women are seen as nothing significant. Women can receive no titles, no matter what they do in their lives, and thus calling a man a 'woman' is considered to be a major insult in the Igbo tribe, so major that it is like killing a man's spirit.

In the Igbo tribe, men gain respect from their fellow tribe members in several ways, one way is by gaining titles, another way is by the amount of women he marries. It is very rare to see a man married to only one woman, the more women a man can marry and care for, the more respect he gains. If a man can care for all his wives and children, by feeding them Yams throughout the year, then he is truly a great man. A man is also looked down upon if he is unable to control his women." No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man." This quote shows that it does not really matter what a man achieves in his life, if he is unable to control his household, all his success is worth nothing. This shows that having control on the weaker women is what forms the core of a man. A man cannot be identified as a true man unless he has power over his entire family.

I believe Okonkwo takes the division which already exists in the Igbo tribe and exaggerates it because he is afraid of becoming like his father. Women are considered to be weak and foolish, so whenever Okonkwo feels an emotion which may be seen as weak, he brushes it off, as he fears that he might be compared to a woman. "When did you become a shivering old woman," Okonkwo asked ... himself, "you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed." Okonkwo convinces himself that he is being foolish and cannot acknowledge what he is feeling. He worries too much about being seen as a woman that he ends up hiding many emotions which he feels but is afraid to acknowledge.

In the novel, Chinua Achebe suggests the fact that not all women want to be treated as women, and not all men want to be treated as men. This is very clear in the case of Okonkwo's two children, Nwoye and Ezinme." That was the kind of story that Nwoye loved. But he now knew that they were for foolish women and children, and he knew that his father wanted him to be a man."Deep down Nwoye enjoys his mother's stories more than his father's stories. Nwoye only chooses to convince himself that he only wants to hear his father's war stories because he wants to gain his father's approval. Nwoye is however unhappy with his father's ways and this is the key reason to why Nwoye becomes Christian later on in the book. He does not want to be the man his father wants him to be; he wants to develop his own character without anyone's approval. Ezinme is also very limited by the Igbo culture, she yearns