In modern society, women are expected to follow and live up to the man’s leadership. The relationship between a lady and a man, or a gentleman, is, traditionally, one of the inequalities. “The gentleman is the leader, the decision maker; the lady is more passive and dependent” (Gagiano 265). On the surface, the idea of ladies and gentlemen is very pleasant, the modern version of the old idea of chivalry. Nevertheless, it is part of an oppressive ideology. “The men in Okonkwo’s culture control women’s lives, but so do the men in other societies, even if only in subtle ways” (Okpewho 217).
Because womanhood is associated with life, sympathy, protection and affection, a woman is looked upon as a final refuge whether she is alive or dead. This function as a mother is institutionalized, and a man is protected from it if he commits an offense and runs to his maternal home. Achebe portrays this role in “Things Fall Apart” when Okonkwo runs to his maternal home when he is banished from Umuofia. Uchendu succinctly captures this feminine role as Okonkwo shows signs of distress in his maternal Uncle’s house.
“A woman without children for her husband is a failed woman” (Onazi 312). Chinua Achebe portrays women as tools for the procreation of her husband’s children and their worth as individuals depends on their success in performing certain functions for their husbands and keeping his name free from blemish.
Understanding the level of abstraction that leads to the establishment of fictive kins allows in-depth examination of an important aspect of the African thought that caters exclusively to development through the extension of the family, the basic social unit. Lack of understanding at this level, for instance, leads Okonkwo to kill the child Ikemefuna, who called him “father.” By killing Ikemenfuna, Okonkwo, intent on concealing the female principal in his life, put a knife on one of the things held Umuofia together.
In conclusion, it appears that all the efforts of males to control females emanate from a deep-seated inferiority complex or fear of this power. Alternatively, men compensate for their weaknesses and insecurity with extreme measures, including control over women. Male dominance is thus not an expression of strength, but of weakness.
Gagiano, Annie. Achebe, Head, Marechera: On Power and Change in Africa. Boulder [u.a.: Lynne Rienner, 2000. Print.
Okpewho, Isidore. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: A Casebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.
Onazi, Oche. African Legal Theory and Contemporary Problems: Critical Essays. , 2014. Print