Gender Roles in Things Fall Apart

Gender Roles in Things Fall Apart
Being of woman; or of man.
Masculine vs. feminine
Language can be gendered
What are some things that we refer to as
“him” or “her” but are inanimate objects.
The Role of Man in Igbo culture
A man in Igbo culture is expected to:
• Provide food and shelter
• Rule over his “clan”
• Take several wives
• Gain “titles”
Role of Man in American culture
Role of Woman in Igbo culture
Women in Igbo culture are expected to:
• Take care of the children
• Cook for their husband
• Clean and take care of the grounds and
• Matriarchy
• a form of social organization in which the
mother is head of the family, and in which
descent is reckoned in the female line, the
children belonging to the mother's clan;
matriarchal system
• a form of social organization in which the
father is the supreme authority in the family,
clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the
male line, with the children belonging to the
father's clan or tribe.
Is Igbo a matriarchal or patriarchal society?
Important passages Relating to Gender
in the book
Page 13
• Okonkwo rules his household with a heavy
hand. His wives, especially the youngest lived
in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so
did his little children.
• How does this quote show Okonkwo’s attitude
toward gender?
Page 53-54
• Nowye knew that it was right to be masculine and to
be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories
that his mother used to tell, and which she no doubt
still told to her younger children….That was the kind
of story Nowye 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. And so he
feigned that he no longer cared for women’s
stories…” What does this passage tell us about the
conflict between father and son? How does it
foreshadow Nwoye’s later conversion?
Page 89
Women never saw the inside of the [Egwugwu
house]. No woman ever did. They scrubbed
and painted the outside walls under the
supervision of men. If they imagined what
was inside, they kept their imagination to
themselves. No woman ever asked questions
about the most powerful and the most secret
cult in the clan”. How does this show the
different social roles in Igbo society?
Page 133-135
• Read about Okonkwo’s answer to why he has
been banished to his motherland.
Page 68
• Read passage about the couple Ndulue and
Ozoemena and their coinsiding deaths.

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