btcmu.info - essay The-Portrayal-of-Women-in-Things-Fall-P3ENFUQASl
and his relationship with his society, and often the well-intentioned individual is hedged . Fall Apart, for instance, Achebe makes Okonkwo's distraught misapprehension of his .. After Okonkwo beats his wife Ojiugo during the Week of Peace, traditional society, Okonkwo tries to test the limits of his physical strength and. Just an initial demo map, so that you don't start with an empty map list. The test on The Chosen will be next Thursday and Friday. .. Write a front-page newspaper article detailing the events leading to Okonkwo beating his wife, Ojiugo. . Evaluate Victor's handling of his marriage with Elizabeth.
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No more rewordifying the same thing over and over again! You can view, manage and edit all your documents from any computer. Just log in or create a free, safe account and start building your learning library. Here's how to do it. Tutuolais not strikinglyoriginal,but we can then go on to assertthat whereasrealismand originality are expectedof the formalnovel, the tellerof folktalesis expectedto takehis subjectmatterandthe frame- work of his tales from the corpusof his people'straditionallore.
Since Palmerhas alreadysuggestedthat the African novel is supremelycon- cerned with "record,"it is easy to see how his conception of Tutuola's work underprivilegesthe type of mythological discourse that his writing engages in. But more importantly, it serves to institute a subtle dichotomy between realism and non-realism, with the added suggestion that the non-realist is not properlythe staple of the novel form.
All the debates around Tutuola seem to me to adumbratewhat KarinBarber "African-languageLiteratures and Post-colonial Criticism" detects at the center of post-colonial and Commonwealth literarycriticism: Much of the criticism of African literature,she says,seeks to give oral tradi- tion only an originary role in the construction of typologies of the Euro- phone African literatures.
The oral tradition is seen mainly as a reservoirof materials to be exploited by the moder writer. This maneuver forecloses the possibility of seeing oral literatureas vitalizing its own traditionsof writ- ing as expressedin indigenous languageliteratures. It seems to me that, addi- tionally, the elements of oral literatureemployed by writersand elucidated by critics are seen mainly in the role of subservingan essentially rationalist and empiricist realist discourse.
The African novel is made to yield reflec- tions of Africa, and there is often an unconscious urge to read them as recordingan "African"reality that comes without mediation. Thus, when a Tutuola gives full vent to the transgressivepotential inherent in oral literary traditions, his work can only be seen in terms of the problematic. His work This content downloaded from It is perhaps fruitful at this stage to note Hayden White's general scepticism about the definitions of realismto make room for a contextualiza- tion of the relationship between realist and non-realist discoursesin the rep- resentations of Africa: In myview,the wholediscussionof the natureof "realism" in literature floundersin the failureto assesscriticallywhata generally"historical" conceptionof realityconsistsof.
The usualtactic is to set the "histori- cal"overagainstthe "mythical," as if the formerweregenuinelyempiri- caland the latterwerenothingbut conceptual, and then to locatethe realmof the "fictive"betweenthe twopoles.
Literatureis then viewed asbeingmoreor lessrealistic, dependinguponthe ratioof empiricalto conceptualelementscontainedin it. But it is a construction that needs to be interrogated. In the context of Afri- can literature,the myths and legends are importantsourcesfor the construc- tion of an African world view. It is in fact significant that from the very inception of African literature,a tradition that drawsdominantly from oral literature and its modes of perception has grown alongside the more realist tendency.
We can number writers like Soyinka, Awoonor, Armah, and lately Laing, Okri, and Bandele-Thomas in the ranks of those who draw mainly on a mythic consciousness, but it is still disturbing that no full- length study has yet been made in which these writersare seen as together exemplifying a specific mode of literary consciousness. In orderthat African novels, be they realist or counter-realist, are not rapidlyincorporatedinto an anthropological-representationalistreadingof African reality, it is important to regardthem all as symbolic discoursesthat continually restructurea variety of subtexts: It is then fruitfulto regardthe African novel as only partially reflectinga "reality"beyond itself;one reflected in a highly problematicway, forever struggling to be self-sufficient within itself, but always involved in various relationships with its informing matrix.
It then becomes possible to endorse Homi Bhabha'sdesire to see a shift in the criticism of post-colonial literaturesfrom the perception of the text as representationalistto seeing it as a production see Bhabha.
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart | Ato Quayson - btcmu.info
But it seems to me also importantnot to privi- lege the textual as solely generative of meanings. This view of the text permits the recovery of a cultural matrix for the text, and at the same time opens up a space for an interrogationof the assumptionsupon which it is grounded.
Perhapsthis strategywould satisfysomeone like Chidi Amuta, who is radically opposed to what he sees as a hegemonic traditionalist aesthetic that governs the criticism of African literature. In relation to ThingsFall Apartand Arrowof God, he makes the assertion that they have become axi- omatic reference points for diverse interests and opinions intent on redis- covering and commenting on "traditionalAfrican society"and "the culture conflict" inauguratedby the advent of colonialism, stock concepts which have since been adumbrated into a "mini-catechism" Amuta The "traditionalistaesthetic" can be incorporatedinto a multi-tiered activity of recovering significance for the text without necessarily lapsing either into a febrile essentialism or a constrictive formalism.
We can return finally to addressJeyifo's second formulation of post- coloniality. For him, interstitial or liminal post-coloniality "defines an ambivalent mode of self-fashioning of the writer or critic which is neither First World nor Third World, neither securely and smugly metropolitan, nor assertively and combatively Third Worldist. The very terms which express the orientation of thisschool of post-colonial self-representationare revealing: In short, acutely awareof the antinomies that riddle existence.
It is interest- ing that Jeyifo namesthose he thinks are the dominant figuresof this forma- tion of the post-colonial Gabriel Garca Marquez,Salman Rushdie, Edward Said, Homi Bhabhasuggesting that the consciousness of the antinomic began with them.
This, I think, is mistaken. I agree with him and add that the very choice of the metropolitan languagefor the writing of post-colonial lit- eraturessecretes liminality into the inauguralact of post-colonialist repre- sentation itself.
Furthermore,in the most sensitive of post-colonial writers, the representation is done with an uneasy awarenessof the subtle contradic- tions inscribedin an emergent syncretic culture: And on the other, the ruthlesseco- nomic competition of urbanizationand Westerization is deprecatedwhile an awarenessof the greaterpossibilities for vertical mobility, self fulfilment, and freedom is registered.
In that sense, the condition of interstitiality or liminality is of the very essence of post-colonial writing, though each text establishes a different relationship to this conundrum. Jeyifo's typology breaks down and is particularlysubverted by his own reading of Achebe's ThingsFall Apart in which he emphasizes the novel's productive ambiva- lences and liminality in its continual relativization of doxa representedby Okonkwo as against paradoxaor irony representedby Obierika and those at the marginsof the text, such as osus and women.
This content downloaded from It is, to borrowan aptformulationof Irigaray's in anothercontext,the "spaces that organizethe scene, the blanksthat sub-tendthe scene'sstructuration and yet will not be readas such" Irigaray that have come into accountin the readingsof post-colonialliteratures.
Things Fall Apart | Define: Erin (Noun)
And in the particular context of the criticismof Africanliterature,the requirementthat it move away from the dominant representationalist rhetoric to more nuanced approachesthat will take accountof the hitherto"silentspaces"and the subtle and often problematicrelationshipsbetween text and context becomespatentlyimperative.
II This readingof ThingsFall Apart,then, is offeredas a means of exposingthe gapthatexistsbetweenthe realistAfricantext andthe reality that it is seento represent. The novel isparticularly usefulforthisenterprise becauseof its highlyacclaimed and well deserved literarystatusand the fact that it has been taken unproblematically since its publicationthirty yearsago.
It seemsfruitfulto conceiveof the realismof ThingsFallApartascon- structedon two levels simultaneously. At one level, the novel concerns itselfwith a descriptionof Umuofiancultureandits subversionby the con- tact with Westernimperialism.
This level of the novel can be perceivedas metonymicof an Igboor Africanreality. In Jakobsonianterms,the narra- tive progressesmetonymically,with narrativeelementsselectedfor atten- tion becausethey exist in discerniblecontiguousrelationto one another. Significantly,however,the text frequentlydepartsfromthe overarching narrativeof the fall of Okonkwoand the division of the clan to pursue numerousanecdotesand digressionsthat aredemonstrablynot relatedto the main narrativebut embodysubtle qualificationsof it.
This level subtendsthe metonymictext butgathersarounditselfall the antinomiesassociatedwith metaphor: On the one hand,Umuofia,asa culture,has institutionsgovernedby a viablesym- bolicorder. The This content downloaded from And it is at this strate- gic level of symbolic structurationthat the novel's hierarchizationof gender and the subtle subversion of its proferredhierarchy are played out, showing that the novel's realism,in the characteristicmanner of a writingcontinually produces excessive meanings.
Taking it at face value then becomes inade- quate and problematic. Several critics have rightly pointed out that Okonkwo's downfall is mainly due to a neurotic concern with "manliness. Almost every critic of the novel pays attention to the nature of Okonkwo's tragic character, relating it to the narrowlimits of action defined by his society as "manly"and showing how his character precludes the exercise of the more "feminine" virtues of tolerance, tenderness and patience.
Innes argues that it is a flaw encoded in the very symbolic orderof Umuofian society and purveyedby its linguistic codes. Okonkwo's attitudes are framed by the culture's language and its implications, and it is this that makes him "unable to acknowledge the mythic implications of femininity and its values" Innes What seems to have been ignored,however, is the fact that in totally focalizing the narrative through Okonkwo and the male-dominated institutions of Umu- ofia, the novel itself implies a patriarchaldiscourse within which women, and much of what they can be taken to representin the novel, are restricted to the perceptualfringes.
In spite of this demonstrablepatriarchy,however, Okonkwo is at various times ironizedby the text suggestingthe inadequacy of the values he representsand ultimately those of the hierarchythat ensures his social status.
It is important to stressthat it is not just Okonkwo's values that are shown as inadequate, but those of a patriarchalsociety in general, he representing an extreme manifestation of the patriarchythat pervades the society as a whole.
Part of the structuration of the male-female hierarchy in the novel derives from what Chantal Zabus, in talking about the use of proverbs in ThingsFallApart,refersto as the "ethno-text. Her focus is mainly on the implica- tions for the demise of orality that the transpositionof traditional discursive elements into the Europhone novel implies, but it is useful to expand the term ethno-text to embrace all the traditional cultural practices that are depicted in a novel, be they linguistically basedor not.
It is the structuration derivable from Igbo culture itself that arguablyoffers the raw materials for the construction of the fictional world of Umuofia. Ani, goddessof the earth, "playeda greaterpart in the life of the people than any other deity" The Week of Peace set This content downloaded from And so important is Ani that all the society's activities are judged in terms of what is or is not acceptable to her; indeed, she is "the ultimate judge of morality and conduct" Killam has been led to suggest,from an examination of the role of Ani in the lives of the people, that "a powerful 'female principle' pervades the whole society of Umuofia" It finds its most powerful expression at the level of the clan's govering cos- mogony.
And, at all times, the female principle alwaysattractssome mascu- line essentiality in its definition. Ani has constant communion with the "fathersof the clan" because they are buried within her. She has a male priest, while Agbala, god of the Hills and Caves, has a priestessas spokesper- son. And in the arena of the traditionally most masculine centred activity, war, the govering principle of Umuofian war medicine is believed to be an old woman with one leg, agadi-nwayi 9. The clan's culturalvalues institute the feminine in a very powerfulposition within the governing symbolic sys- tem, taking care to suggest a subtle interfusion of the two principles of male and female.
In that sense, Umuofia's governing symbolic system suggests a necessary balancing of the two principles, so that the notion of a pervasive single essence "femaleprinciple"requiresqualification.
At the level of the metonymic realist description of the institutional practices of Umuofia, however, the ethno-text yields a completely different reality. Umuofia is a male dominated society, and the narrative reflects this aspect of the culture. The continuing emphasis in the text is on depicting male dominated activities-the oratory of men before the gathered clan, the acquisition and cultivation of farmlands,courageand resourcefulnessin sport and war and the giving and taking of brides.
The text's focus on the patriarchy inscribed in the ethno-text is particularly evident in the por- trayalof the political institution of justice. Since the Umuofians areacepha- lous, their central political power is invested in the ndichie,council of elders, and in the egwu-gwu,masked spirits of the ancestors who come to sit in judgement over civil and criminal disputes.
It is in the attitude of women to the egwu-gwuthat the hierarchy of power is unmasked. The egwu-gwuemerge to sit in judgement with "guttural and awesome"voices. And the sounds of their voices are no less mystifying than the sounds that herald their entry: The ancestralspiritsof the clan wereabroad. The metalgong beat continuouslynow and the flute,shrilland powerful,floatedon the chaos. And thenthe egwu-gwu appeared. The womenandchildrensent up a greatshoutand took to theirheels. A woman fledas soon as an egwu-gwucamein sight.Things Fall Apart Review - Flipped Classroom
And when, as on that day, nine of the greatestmaskedspiritsin the clan cameout togetherit was This content downloaded from Even Mgbafotook to her heels and had to be restrainedbyherbrothers.
Signifi- cantly, the egwu-gwuare described in an idiom of grandeur,the "tonguesof fire"recalling the dramatic events of Pentecost recorded in the Acts of the Apostles 2. And the women's "instinctive"flight at their emergence can be read as the awestruckresponse to these masked ancestral spirits.
A few lines later, however, the women reveal they have more knowledge of the reality behind the masked spirits than they care to express: But if they thought these things they kept them within themselves" The narrative paints the scene with so much detail, objective distancing and humour, that it is impossible not to regardit as of the clearest "realistic"vintage. But the "thoughtful silence" of the women before this all-important masculine institution is ironic.
The narrative works both to reveal the "natural"and "instinctive"female attitude to Power and also to ironize the pretensions of the masculine social instiutions. But it is important to note that the irony does not work to radically undermine the hierarchy at the centre of the power structure because the women constrain themselves to "thinking" their knowledge, but leave it unexpressed.
Some aspects of the narrative can be construed wholly as fictional constructions and not as trajectoriesof the ethno-text. Here it is the narra- tive, in terms of its own discursive strategies, that is responsible for any impression of patriarchy that comes across.
In the relationships in Okonkwo's household, for instance, we find a subtle definition of his mascu- linity that depends on a particularview of the women in his domestic set-up.
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Twice we are told Okonkwo beats his wives. The firsttime, it is Ojiugo, his last wife. The narrator'spreface to the incident must be noted: Okonkwowasprovokedto justifiableangerby his youngestwife,who went to plait her hair at her friend'shouse and did not returnearly enoughto preparethe afternoonmeal.
And it is significant that the text does not bother to let Ojiugo explain herself on her return. It is just reported that "when she returnedhe beat her very heavily" In Okonkwo's anger he forgets that it is the Week of Peace, and even when he is reminded, he does not stop because, as we are told, he "wasnot the man to stop beating somebodyhalf way through, not even for fear of a goddess" In earning a severe reprimand from Ani's priest for flouting the rules governing the observance of the Week of Peace, his "manly"values are clearly shown as inadequate, but his character as derivable from this scene is as significant in terms of his attitudes to his wives as it is in his attitudes to the culturalmoreshe violates.
In this segment This content downloaded from At another time it is Ekwefiwho is to sufferthe brunt of her husband's violent temper. In this instance it is only to satisfy his suppressedanger at the enforced laxity that precedes the New Yam Festival Both these instances are explications of what the text has alreadytold us earlieron but only now depicts: Hiswives,especially the youngest,lived in perpetualfearof his fierytemper,andso didhis little children.
And it is a binar- ism that frequently takes him as the primary value. When the binarism works to undermine Okonkwo and his relative values, it regularly fore- groundsother men-folk around whom alternative values in the text can be seen as being organized. Obierika and Nwoye are important nuclei of alter- native values in this sense.
In relation to his wives, however, the binarism implies a secondary role for them. Whatever significance is recovered for them must be gleaned from their silence, for they are not portrayedby the narrativeas contributing to the actionand its outcome. The essential discursive operation of containing the significance of the women is most evident in relation to the handling of Ekwefiand Ezinma.
The text builds them up till they seem to be alternative centres of significa- tions, but it frustratesthe completion of these significations by banishing them out of the narrative at some point. Ezinmaand her mother Ekwefiare the only female characters developed by the narrative.
We are told that Ekwefiran awayfrom her firsthusbandto marryOkonkwo By focusing on the relationship between her and her daughter,the narrativereveals the joys of motherhood and the closeness that mother and daughterenjoyed: Ezinmadidnot call hermotherNne likeall children. She calledherby her name,Ekwefi,as her fatherand other grown-uppeopledid. The relationshipbetweenthem was not only that of motherand child. Therewassomethingin it likethe companionship of equals,whichwas strengthenedbysuchlittle conspiraciesaseatingeggsin the bedroom.
The significations, how- ever, seem to be limited to a definition of maternal and filial instincts only. The episodes around Ekwefi'spursuitof Chielo when her daughter is taken on a nocturnal round of the villages by the priestess are significant in that respect And when she stands with tears in her eyes at the mouth of the cave into which Chielo has entered with her daughterand swearswithin This content downloaded from Indeed,the sceneeven gainswidersignificanceif perceivedin contrastto Okonkwo'shandlingof Ikemefunawho called him "father.
In Ekwefi'scaseas in Okonkwo's,an ele- mentof eerinessgovernsthe atmosphere,with Ekwefi'ssituationbeingthe more frighteningof the two.
And both episodesinvolve the enigmatic injunctionof deities, but whereasEkwefiis preparedto defy the gods in defenceof herdaughter,Okonkwosubmitsto cowardiceandparticipatesin Ikemefuna'sritualmurder. Ekwefihas been given admirablebut limited statureby the text, and this is partlybecause it refusesto lend her a more cru- cialrolein the action.
InEzinma,we see a tough-mindedandquestioningpersonality. When her mothertells her the tale of the Tortoiseand the Birds,she is quickto pointoutthatthe taledoesnot havea song She joinsthe ranksofother male characterswho posequestionsof varyinginterestin the narrative: Interest- ingly, her questions areposed in relation to what is not of great consequence in the narrative,the talesof womentold in theirhutsat night to children,a contextwhichOkonkwothinkshis sonsshouldbe excludedfromthe better to ensurethe growthof their"manliness.
And whenshe sits,she oftenfailsto adoptthe proper sittingpostureprescribed forhersexandhasto beforcefullyremindedbyher fatherin his characteristic bellowingcommand