Things Fall Apart

Who are the judges in the legal case in Chapter 10, and how do they behave? Do you feel the judges decision is fair?

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Umuofia has a great clan gathering. Nine men in the cult of the egwugwu impersonate the nine founders of the villages of Umuofia. During the ceremony, the men are considered to be the spirits of the clan. The transformation is spiritual and complete, in the same way that Catholics believe that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. The ceremony of the egwugwu is clearly one dominated by men. Only men are in the cult of the egwugwu, and so only men are involved in the administration of justice. But for the first case of the ceremony, Achebe chooses a case involving a woman's well-being. Here and elsewhere, he tries to show that a woman's place in Igbo society, though vulnerable, is not unappreciated. Mgbafo, the abused bride, is protected by her brothers. Her case is viewed favorably by the judge. Although Achebe shows us that the Igbo society is deeply patriarchal, he also strives to show that Igbo woman, in at least a limited capacity, are respected and protected. There is an interest in justice and fairness. And to keep perspective on the issue, the reader should remember that women in 19th century England and America did not enjoy any more freedom than their counterparts in Nigeria.