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Presentation of Women in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Hues of African Culture


African Literature with its vast spectrum ranges from oral literature to literature written in colonial languages and interestingly reveals many powerful political and cultural structures that operate to keep segregations intact. Culture as a complex social apparatus dices the norms and regulations and is a stratified concept with hues that light up the disillusionment and dissent. Multiculturalism indeed has appreciated the difference in cultures but has also made avenues accessible to analyze it from queer perspectives. Chinua Achebe, to reorganize the lost confidence of Africans, represents the cultural roots of Igbos in his work Things Fall Apart. Achebe also refers here, how the universal principles vitiate the destructive potentials of this dignified Igbos who “had a philosophy of great depth and value…above all, they had dignity”. In this effective representation of justice and dignity the value of body under the term ‘women’ gets significantly lower. If Achebe is known as the Patriarch of African Literature, then his biasness towards representation of women, in terms of reproduction and fetish beauty is clearly visible. Else than Ndulue, hardly any man in the Igbo culture treats women in equal terms. They, both physically and verbally abuse women. Other than comparing the women with Earth (as earth means soil which can fertilize like a women’s womb) and motherhood, women are treated as no individuals with desires, dreams and future except than marrying someone and serving as a wife/maid. The story revolves around the protagonist Okonkwo and his efforts to keep up his self-pride as that “masculine man”. Presentation of women (particularly Okonkwo’s “wives”) in Achebe’s novel remains that ‘hue’ which gets veiled by this ‘masculine’ tale of Okonkwo’s dignity. Therefore, in my paper I would explore the oppressive treatment and subdued identity of women in Achebe’s presentation of Igbo culture.

Suparna Roy

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