Things Fall Apart

I found it particularly interesting that Okonkwo treats the women in the novel with such disdain. At first I thought that the maybe he had some issues with his mother, but it turned out that his issues were with his unsuccessful father. I thought it was surprising that Okonkwo came to the conclusion that women are silly and weak, because of his father was compared to them. I don’t know why I found this interesting, maybe because I am a girl and didn’t particularly like Okonkwo’s treatment of his wives, especially his reasoning behind it.

After attending yesterday’s lecture, I noticed that although Okonkwo see’s women as weak beings, he is comforted by the memories of his mother. This son Nwoye, who knows that “it was right to be masculine and violent” (53), still prefers his mother’s ‘foolish’ stories to his father’s stories of violence and bloodshed. It appears as though the men act all high and mighty and better than the women, but still they have an appreciation for the women who birthed them.

Okonkwo says that he is worried his children don’t resemble him (66). He says Nwoye has “too much of his mother in him” (66) when we know that that is not the case. Nwoye has too much of his grandfather in him, and yet his father blames his first wife, as if her femininity had made her son less of a man.

Okonkwo wants his sons to be more masculine, but they lack the spirit. But his daughter, Ezinma, who “Okonkwo was specially fond of” (44) “has the right spirit” (66) even though she is a girl. Her father claims, “If Ezinma had been a boy [he] would have been happier” (66). It is ironic how he sees his daughter as possibly being more manly than his sons, although he still holds on to his disdain for the female sex

One thought on “Things Fall Apart

  1. Nice observations here. I hadn’t really paid much attention to how his father was compared to a woman by others, and perhaps this influences Okonkwo’s view of his father to the extent that when he thinks of his father he thinks “woman.” So then, when Nwoye resembles his grandfather then Okonkwo blames it on a woman. That could make sense.

    I also hadn’t thought much about how Nwoye resembles his grandfather, but going back to where the novel says that Okonkwo heard someone calling his father a woman, it also says that Okonkwo came to hate everything his father had loved, including gentleness and idleness (13). Nwoye might be described as gentle, in how upset he is about the twins and Ikemefuna, how much he values love and relationships, etc. And his father calls him idle, though I don’t know if he really was. Still, this would help to show why Nwoye gets compared to a woman by Okonkwo so often. Okonkwo also calls him a woman when he converts to Christianity–I suppose the “gentleness” would fit there too.

    Good point in your last paragraph: when he sees a woman he respects, it doesn’t make sense to him except to think of her as somehow a mistake–she should have been a boy. Ouch.

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