Representations of Masculinity in Things Fall Apart and Wide Sargasso Sea

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2005

10 Pages, Grade: A5 (=18/22)

Abstract or Introduction

From the very first pages of Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is characterised as a hard-working, courageous, aggressive man. ‘He [has] a slight stammer and whenever he [is] angry and [can] not get his words out quickly enough, he [will] use his fists.’ He has over time become ‘well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rest[s] on solid personal achievements.’ Not only is he known for his qualities as a wrestler, he has also ‘taken two titles and [has] shown incredible prowess in two intertribal wars.’ Moreover, he has become a wealthy farmer, who has just married his third wife. As for his appearance, ‘he is tall and huge, and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose [give] him a very severe look.’ In other words, not only does he look manly with his tall, muscular built, it seems like he lives the values that are perceived as manly by Ibo society. ‘Military virtues such as aggression, strength, courage and endurance have repeatedly been defined as the natural and inherent qualities of manhood.’ And his eminence as a warrior is exactly one of the ways in which Okonkwo asserts his manhood. Throughout the novel, readers are reminded of his bravery. It is him who finally throws Amalinze the Cat, a wrestler unbeaten for seven years. He is also the first one to bring home a human head won in a fight in an inter-tribal war. Furthermore, he is, at the end of the novel, not afraid to take on ‘the white man’ singularly, if the clan fails to go to battle with him. Bravery for him is a quality so undeniably and inextricably linked to masculinity and the condition of manhood t hat ‘he mourn[s] for the warlike men of Umuofia, who ha[ve] so unaccountably become soft like women’ during the time of his exile. It becomes clear in this quotation that Okonkwo affirms his manhood, not only by exercising activities which in his eyes are manly, but also by hierarchically placing himself above women. Ibo society, very much like Western society in pre-feminist times, organises its social practice through gendered binaries. Thus, courage, bravery, aggression, activity, are all deemed to be ‘masculine’ features, whereas, in direct opposition, weakness, gentleness, passivity, and submissiveness are regarded as ‘feminine’ attributes.


Representations of Masculinity in Things Fall Apart and Wide Sargasso Sea
University of Glasgow  (Department of English Literature)
Postcolonial Studies - Module T4 - University of Glasgow
A5 (=18/22)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
496 KB
Representations, Masculinity, Things, Fall, Apart, Wide, Sargasso, Postcolonial, Studies, Module, University, Glasgow
Quote paper
Jenny Roch (Author), 2005, Representations of Masculinity in Things Fall Apart and Wide Sargasso Sea, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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