Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
With two beautiful grown-up daughters his return to Umuofia would attract considerable attention. His future sons-in-law would be men of authority in the clan. The poor and unknown would not dare come forth. (20.14)
Okonkwo in part values his daughters because they are beautiful and can therefore attract the most respected men, which will in turn bring Okonkwo more honor and status in the community. Though we know Okonkwo cares about Ezinma, he does still objectify all his daughters, seeing them as vehicles to further his reputation.
Okonkwo was deeply grieved […]. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountably become soft like women. (21.25)
The breaking apart of the Umuofia people is a signal to Okonkwo of their developing weakness and femininity. He greatly valued his people because they epitomized masculinity, and thus he mourns his clan and considers it of less value by seeing his clan as feminine.
“Worthy men are no more,” Okonkwo sighed as he remembered those days. “Isike will never forget how we slaughtered them in that war. We killed twelve of their men and they killed only two of ours. Before the end of the fourth market week they were suing for peace. Those were days when men were men.” (24.8)
Because his Umuofia people will not fight a holy war against the Christians, Okonkwo considers them weakened to the point of womanliness. His vision of masculinity seems to have no place for anything but rash and aggressive action. Only in the old glory days when the Umuofia fearlessly fought wars and killed other tribes were they really men.