Things Fall Apart

Sexism In Things Fall Apart

The presence of sexism, both individual and institutional, runs rampant in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It is the most constant theme in the story, more intrinsic in the plotline than even racism, and certainly more deep-rooted. The dominance of the male gender becomes apparent in the first few pages. The fact that men are allowed to keep multiple wives is the first sign of a sexually biased culture (2860). The book in its entirety gives no inkling that women are allowed to be involved anything other than a monogamous relationship, and there is no reason to assume it. Indeed, women are generally treated more like a commodity than as partners.

In the second chapter there is conflict between local villages and it is resolved by the weaker village giving a boy and a girl to the stronger. The boy virtually becomes an adopted child and the girl is wedded to a tribesman. Her desires are of no consequence and her virginity is one of the terms of the resolution, making it plain where her value lies to the Igbo people (2864-2865). Another intimation of the cheapening of females’ human worth is present in a line describing Okonkwo’s feelings during the New Yam Festival: “He trembled with the desire to conquer and subdue. It was...

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