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16 July 2009 @ 07:45 am
Hi there, how are you doing? I have seen many interesting thoughts about the book we read. I also want to share what I think about Igbo society.

In “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe presents the precise role between men and women in Igbo society. Men function as the head of the family. They carry great responsibility to support not only their family but also their community. There are many activities that verify men’s significant superiority. For instant, the significant meeting in the clan can only allow men to participate. Men are encouraged to join the wrestle to show their physical strength. Women, on the other hand, are dominated by men, and almost every important decision is made by their husbands. This idea can even be seen through the crops that they grow for their daily meal when Okonkwo mentions “His mother and sisters worked hard, but they grow women’s crop, like coco-yams, bean and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was the man’s crops” (Achebe 15). Even the crops they grow manifest the difference position between men and women in Igbo society. Women are extremely inferior that they cannot protect their own rights. This idea brings us to the old tradition when women were given less opportunity to participate in the workplace. They were somehow discriminated and treated unfairly. Igbo society provides excessive rights to men, and obviously they can marry wives as they can. Most ironically, having multi-wives is the culture of high-class Igbo society. Women, in this respect, hold the duty to look after their husbands and children.
Igbo practice of differentiate the role between men and women resembles the culture in some of Southeast Asian countries, particularly Cambodian culture in the 19th century. During that period, women were hardly given the right to be educated and to go to work. Similar to Igbo society, women are expected to be the perfect housewives, who, instead of going to work, should only be responsible for housework. While Achebe does not mention whether Igbo women are given opportunities to be educated, Cambodian culture itself tends to forbidden women from acquiring education since most of the schools were established by Buddhist fellows-monk (mostly men). This lack of opportunity brings to the conclusion women should listen and utterly follow their husbands’ ideas because they are both physically and intellectually stronger than women. Igbo women in “Things Fall Apart” apparently not the mirror to reflect the society in Nigeria itself, but also a depiction of the Cambodian culture (strictly contemplates women behavior) in the 19th century.
The old tradition has faded, and women are given more chances to show their capability and competency, so as to improve the community as a whole. We should support and encourage women to learn and contribute their knowledge to the society as much as they can. We, together, men and women, should work hand in hand to strive for progression and development rather than discriminating.

Dina Ra
16 July 2009 @ 02:13 am
In Things Fall Apart, the gender roles in the Igbo culture that the men, women, and children played by were very strictly set. For example, men were supposed to harvest the yams. "Yams stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on hams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed" (21). This meant a great deal to the men because it showed how well off they could be by supporting there family by feeding them. Okonkwo was very ambitious to harvest many yams to not only support his family, but to show off to the other people how masculine and great he was. The women did the cooking for the men. "Okonkwo was provoked to justifiable anger by his youngest iwfe, who went to plait her hair at her friend's house and did not return early enought to cook the afternoon meal" (19). This shows how women are supposed to their part in cooking and serving the men (head of the household). Okonkwo gets upset because his wife fails to bring him his meal. The children, if it was a boy then would help the father out and try to do manly things, but if it was a girl, then she would help the mother out. I believe this correlates with the American culture (or how it once used to be like). In America, the men typically make the money and makes sure that the family is financially supported. The women, do the cooking and caring for the children, and has a side job if more help is needed. Even in the work field, people usually see the men as doctors, and women as nurses. In today's culture however, women are taking a man's role such as, providing for the family, yet also feeding and caring for the family. Many men are becoming nurses,and women are becoming doctors.

Grace Yi
English 4
16 July 2009 @ 01:14 am
In the story, Things Fall Apart, the Igbo society has a particular way of dealing with their sick. Whenever someone has a certain sickness of swelling in the stomach or limbs they carry the individual out to the forest to die and rot above the soil. “He was carried to the Evil Forest and left there to die. There was the story of a very stubborn man who staggered back to his house and had to be carried again to the forest and tied to a tree.” (Chp. 3, 8th pp) The Igbo culture demands such handling of the sick. From this quote we can see that those once inflicted with the ailment probably begin to question Igbo practices. The benefit, besides following the will of their gods, may be that they don’t wish for anyone else to catch the disease. Their medical practices are much less developed so it’s possible this could be a factor when dragging the sick individual out to the “Evil Forest”.

The parallel to American society that I wish to draw here, however possibly far-fetched, is that the Igbo’s treatment of their sick is similar to our treatment of our elderly. Across the country we have many facilities that house the elderly. It even seems as though we have multiple facilities within each city. I wouldn’t say it’s similar in the sense that we send our elderly to these homes so they can die (although some may go that far). I do think it’s similar in the sense that we have this separate place for people who are no longer considered normal, in this case, those who are not sick or elderly.

To go off on a bit of a tangent, I think the enormous amount of old people homes we have in this country is quite depressing. I know that not every old person is in there because their children don’t wish to have them live with them. But, if that’s even the case for lets say 3 out of 10 elderly people (I suspect it may be even more)… what a sad reflection that is of our society’s view of the elderly. I say these things because one of my best friend’s mothers used to work in one of these facilities and I gained insight from the stories she’d tell me. I sincerely hope that when my mother becomes unable to care for herself that I’ll do whatever is in my power not to outcast her and send her off to our version of the “Evil Forest”.

I realize this sounds depressing and for that I’m sorry lol.

In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe constantly portrays Okonkwo as a rugged man who never shows feminine emotions. Okonkwo never cries, never expresses what he feels through lengthy spiels, and never shows any sign of weakness. However, at the end of Chapter 21, Okonkwo’s will is finally broken. Achebe writes, “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief. 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” (p. 104). Okonkwo could not take any more. He realized the end of his culture was near and inevitable. This was the point of no return for Okonkwo as he was faced with a dilemma. Should he become “womanly” and weak to ensure his survival and longevity, or should he take a stand for his passionate ideals? Okonkwo did not want to become womanly and weak, because if he did, he believed others would lose all respect for him for being soft. For him, there was no ground for compromise. It was one or the other and could not be both.

In today’s society, men are supposed to be the strong, authoritative, dominant figures that they have always been, but are continually bombarded with messages that they need to communicate better, much like Okonkwo. Men are encouraged to be the main provider for the family (a traditionally masculine role), but now are also encouraged to take time to sit down and express themselves through diction and long conversations (a traditionally feminine characteristic). For Okonkwo, becoming more “womanly” would take away all of his masculinity, thus making him lose his entire identity. Some men today are faced with the same problem. Deep conversation and open communication is extremely difficult, and it can take away some of their self respect. Is there a line between being masculine and having womanly behaviors for men today?

Channing White
16 July 2009 @ 12:00 am

In today’s society women are able to fulfill their dreams, goals and careers successfully. As woman who was born and raised in America I feel so appreciative that I had the opportunity to receive a good education and am able to achieve the goals I have set for myself every step I grow into a successful American-Afghan woman. These opportunities are things that my own father and grandparents didn’t get to take advantage of while they lived in Afghanistan. Afghan people my age ask me all the time how cool it must be to have a mother who was also born and raised in America and has maintained been able to get a great education to obtain a job at Hewlett Packard Computer Company. They are in shock that not only an Afghan can achieve that much in America, but also an Afghan woman has the intelligence and ability to actually obtain a job within a real company. Most of the Afghan people’s mothers I have met are immigrants who have not had the chance to obtain such jobs and are unmotivated to push themselves to as well. Sometimes my mother would come home and tell me about her day with some anger in her voice lecturing me on how sexist some of her managers are. Her mangers would play favorites in how the men who were in my mom’s department were more “credible” and “creative” than the women, particularly my mother. She said that she just intimidated the men her department because of the fact that she had just the same amount if not more background information, education and experience within the company and perhaps had bigger paycheck. Roles of women have changed drastically from bad to good, but unfortunately not in every situation, society or work force.
In “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, the women in the Igbo society are looked down upon as almost a completely lower class and gender. They were regularly beaten by their husbands; they were treated unfairly as women, wives and mothers. They were completely responsible for every cleaning and cooking task that needed to be taken care of within the house hold. Not to mention, their husband’s were prohibited to have more than one wife depending on their economic status and nobody had a say in the judgment of it. “He belongs to the clan,’ he told her. ‘So look after him.’ ‘Is he staying long with us?’ she asked. ‘Do as you are told, woman,’ Okonkwo thundered, and stammered. ‘When did you become one of the ndichie of Umuofia?” (Achebe, page 11). Within this quote the aggressive, masculine, intimidating Igbo tribe member, father to eight children and husband to three wives, Okonkwo is speaking to his wife in both a condescending and disrespectful manner. This is an example of how powerless and disrespected the women during the time period this story was set, really were. Another example of a flaw within the society of the Igbo culture, was how women were forced to harvest the “lesser” crops. They aren’t prohibited to be present in meetings in the company of men or to discuss issues. They are intentionally provoked to feel as outcasts. When it comes to farming for example, women plant maize, beans, and melons while men efficiently work on actual farm planting yam mounds. Ironically, when men plant the yam mounds that means that particular man is portraying his manliness. The treatment is sickening to read or even imagine along with the unfair gender roles and responsibilities.

NAHIL SHERZOY English 4 summer 2009
Current Location: Living room
15 July 2009 @ 11:56 pm
The aspect of Igbo culture that I found most interesting is the heavy reliance on religion, beliefs and superstitions that serve as the foundation of the Igbo identity. One particular practice, the killing of twins, was most alarming, especially to someone from our American culture. When Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son realizes that his brother has been murdered, he remembers a time when he felt the same sort of pain. “They were returning home…when they had heard the voice of an infant crying in the thick forest….Nwoye had heard that twins were put in earthenware pots and thrown away in the forest, …A vague chill had descended on him and his head has seemed to swell, like the solitary walker at night who passes an evil spirit on the way. Then something had given way inside him. It descended on him, this feeling, when his father walked in, that night after killing Ikemefuna.” (38)
However horrifying, infanticide has been a predominant part of world history. Archeologists have discovered physical evidence of child sacrifice at several locations including ancient Greece, Rome, Russia, China, India, Japan, Australia, Hawaii, Canada and North and South America. While the practice of infanticide is still committed in rural parts of the world, it is not a prevalent part of today’s leading cultures. Chinua Achebe includes a passage about abandoned twins, not to demean or condone Igbo culture, but to give readers an insight to a culture that believes in old superstitions. In Igbo culture, twins are thought to cause bad luck. For an agricultural society, symbols of bad luck are especially dangerous to the wellbeing of the community. Perhaps twins would cause the rains not to come, which would lead to a bad harvest which could ultimately lead to a time of starvation for the tribe. When survival is based solely on what a man can bring forth from the ground, having strong faith in what your society believes to be true can be the difference between life and death – spiritually and physically.

Gina Ferreyra
15 July 2009 @ 11:32 pm
In the novel Things Fall Apart, religion was one of the reasons that led Okonkwo to commit a suicide towards the ending. Gods made out of stones and woods were worshipped by the clans of the Igbo society. They had a representative for each of their goddess, such as the Oracle of the Hills. However, the main god that they worshipped was Chukwu. They had believed that this god had created heaven and Earth. In the Igbo society many who doubted his or her own religion were willing to convert to Christianity to learn new beliefs and to be a part of a new religion; and that is what they did. Because many didn’t feel very strong and connected with their own gods, they decided to change their religion. A good example is Nwoye. Nwoye, Okonkwo’s own son decided to convert his religion because he did not feel very strong about the culture and the religious customs of his own society. "He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart." (Page 176) In this statement, Achebe symbolized religion as "the things" because as the clans found a new and accurate teaching, they began to doubt their own religion and the Igbo society was no longer acted like one. On the other hand, Okonkwo was very close and connected to his society and his culture. He couldn’t see that the white men were taking over his society. The traditions and the customs were all falling down the drain. People stopped believing in themselves and no longer felt connected with their gods. Therefore, Okonkwo committed a suicide because he no longer wanted to see the sins his people were committing by betraying their own religion.

Jagandip Singh
15 July 2009 @ 10:35 pm
Behind skin color and language, there are individuals from different cultures that hold their own traditions. In Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, one see’s how Okonkwo, a main character, tries to resist against cultural change due to his fear of losing the Igbo village cultural values. In our society it can resemble the same because many of us in our society belong to different religions that portray our beliefs and our customs. At times when we move to different places or when people of other beliefs approach us, we become fearful because their customs are unfamiliar to us. But what we do not realize is that change is not always bad because if it were not for change there would not be any progression.

Just like there is competition in Things Fall Apart between the Igbo village and the Christians there is competition for everything we can imagine in our society today. If competition did not exist, there would be a monopoly where one individual would control everything. However, if new ideas were to not be exchanged, changes and improvements would never take place because there would be incentive to do so.

So, in the Igbo culture, when Christianity arrived, it easily recruited new members because it opened up new doors to people that had no status and place and gave them importance. After all the years that they had been living in the Igbo village, many were never acknowledged, which lead to many in the Igbo village to convert into Christianity as well as those who had high tittles. When the other villagers such as Okonkwo began to notice how many people from their clan were being converted, they grew concerned. “They broke the clan and gone their several ways. We who are here this morning have remained true to our fathers, but our brothers have deserted us to join a stranger to soil their fatherland” (115). When Okonkwo saw that the villagers where being draw in by the Christians, he along with the others began to worry. He became preoccupied because he saw how the villagers where becoming embraced by the new opportunities and ideas they were offering and introducing to them. He saw how the Christians where beginning to influence his culture and he did not approve of it because he knew that if everyone began to concede, all the traditional methods that his ancestors had worked hard to maintain would soon be destroyed and forgotten.

In our culture, we can also be fearful of new things that are presented to us, such as a new discoveries or technology. At first people might be afraid and unable to understand it, but overtime they learn to accept it. If new changes were not to occur daily, our society would not be able to ameliorate, but because new ideas arise, our community slowly transforms along with our knowledge of the world that we live in.

15 July 2009 @ 09:41 pm
While reading the book, I noticed the similarities between “Things Fall Apart” and “A Bright Room Called Day.” While reading about Okonkwo I found myself comparing him to Agnes. One of Agnes’ big flaws was resisting change, and this eventually lead to her downfall of losing what she valued in life. I could say the same for Okonkwo. Okonkwo was so attached and prideful of his life in Umuofia, that any sort of change was difficult for him to deal with. “He was determined that his return should be marked by his people. He would return with a flourish, and regain the seven wasted years. (171)” Okonwko expected to come back to a great life, where he would make up for the “wasted” years. Sure he somewhat adapted to life in Mbanta, but as soon as the seven years were up, he was ready to go back to his old life. After the seven years were up, Okonkwo showed great disappointment upon arriving back to Umuofia. Okonwko resisted change so much. It seemed as if he glorified his former life. Because of the change of environment, people, thought, etc, Okonkwo ended up committing suicide. Okonwko was too stubborn to adapt to the changes, and instead found it easier to take his life. Agnes is similar in that she resisted change, and was ignorant about her surroundings. Okonkwo put his former life up on a pedestal, while Agnes put her apartment up on a pedestal. Both of them resisted change until the end, and chose the hard way out. Okonkwo and Agnes were so comfortable, that changing their lifestyle was out of the question.

Many people in American Society are like this. Many people fear change because they are so comfortable with their lifestyle. An unchanging lifestyle seems to be unhealthy, because it does not produce room for growth. These are the ones who find themselves at the end of their life, looking back, and regretting.

Esther Choi
15 July 2009 @ 08:10 pm
I felt there were actually quite a few similarities from the novel Things Fall Apart to our American culture today. More specifically I found it interesting that as soon as Okonkwo’s son Nwoye could get away from his father he did. They never saw eye to eye in different situations and Nwoye was definitely not Okonkwo’s favorite child and that was quite apparent. When the missionaries came into the Igbo’s territory Nwoye found it to be his way out and jumped at it. It was Nwoye’s first and possiably only chance to get away from his father; his one opportunity to have a different life in which he took. Running full force away from his tribe and into a whole new world of endless possibilities and who can blame him after the way he was constantly treated?
As soon as Nwoye had returned and Okonkwo found out where he had been going Okwonko was furious
“Where have you been? he stammered.
Nwoye struggled to free himself from the choking grip.
Answer me, roared Okonkwo, before I kill you! He seized a heavy stick that lay on the dwarf wall and hit him two or three savage blows…[Okonkwo’s uncle came in and demanded he leave Nwoye alone] Okonkwo did not answer. But he left hold of Nwoye, who walked away and never returned.” (87-88)
The way Nwoye left his tribe, taking the first opportunity he could to get away from his home life is much like the way children do it in our American culture today. Now not everyone leaves but I know many different cases where as soon as a child turns eighteen years old, or even has the first opportunity to get away they take it. They want to get away from either their birth parents or whoever their parental guardians are, especially in the cases where they don’t get along with one another. In any case children sometimes just want to get away from their current living situation either because of the disagreements, fighting, beatings, or maybe just to go out on their own to learn whom they are. To develop into the person they feel they should be or the person they want to be.

Tiffany Schultz English 4 Tues & Thur 8am