Investigating Women’s Roles in Tribal Society with Specific Illustrations from Chinua Achebe’s Novels: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah

Keywords: Women's Roles, Tribal Society, Contradictions, Orthodoxy, Igbo Culture, Women Empowerment, Nigerian Integrated Development, Tribal Integration and Development, Feminism, Political Marginalization, New Women, Gender Equality, Eco criticism, Eco feminism



  All of the Chinua Achebe’s novels Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) exemplify good socio-historical fictions. Achebe’s talent as a storyteller lies in his ability to recreate the period of African history and give it life and color. His hundreds of carefully chosen details express perfectly the atmosphere and flavor of precolonial to present Nigeria particularly the Igbo world. Although his attention to authenticity is evident, he smoothly incorporates his research into the stories.




Details of every setting make the events of Achebe’s novels more plausible. Achebe stimulates not only the reader's visual sense but all four other senses as well with his evocations of the smell of kolanuts and old muddy houses, the sounds of street, the taste of a fattened yam and spiced wine, and the feelings of tribal war. Achebe’s pidgins also incorporate language that appeals to the reader's social perceptions. The novels’ historical setting when relating his characters' emotions makes us spellbound.

The episodic plot structure features a series of minor conflicts and ultimately leads a single climactic resolution. Many surprises occur. With major surprises or conflicts, Achebe’s skillful development of characters and setting holds the readers’ as well as critics’ interest. The tapestry of Nigeria through which Achebe journeys captures the imagination and lingers long after the last page of the novels is turned. Again, Achebe simply presents the situation without passing explicit judgment. In this beautiful fictional world women of Nigeria hold a key cultural, societal and political agent.



Among the best known critics who have devotedly investigated the role of the tribal society and feminine identity in Achebe’s novels are Emmanuel Obiechina, Bernth Lindfors, Abiola Irele, David Carrol, G.D. Killam, G-C. M. Mutiso, Peter Nazareth, Emmanuel Ngara, Benedict Chiaka Njoku, Eustace Palmer, James Booth, Kwadwo Osei-Nyame and Shatto Arthur Gakwandi. But no where I find a timeline survey of women’s roles and Achebe’s goal of fictionalization of the journey of Igbo women into much desired New Women. In that perspective, topic for research “Investigating Women’s Roles in Tribal Society with Specific Illustrations from Chinua Achebe’s Novels: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah” is unique as the research on the said field is very restricted. Here is few listed research or publications on the related topics :



 Ref:

Njoku, Benedict Chiaka. The Four Novels of Chinua Achebe: A Critical Study. Peter Lang. New York. 1984.

Lindfors, Bernth. Black African literature in English: a guide to information sources. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1979-1981.

Boehmer, Elleke. “Of Goddesses and Stories: Gender and a New Politics in Anthills of the Savannah”. Ed., Petersen and Rutherford, Chinua Achebe: A Celebration. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990:130-138.

Carroll, David. Black African literature in English: a guide to information sources Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1979-1981.

Innes, C. l. and Bernth.  “Achebe’s Things Fall Apart” in critical perspectives on Chinua Achebe. Washington D C, Three Continents Press, 1978.

 Obiechina, Emmanuel. Nigeria: Imo State Government Publications. Cambridge University Press,  1975.

 Palmer, Eustace.  An introduction to the African novel. Heinemann, 1977.

Irele ,   F. Abiola. The African Experience in Literature and Ideology, Indiana University Press , 1990.

Mutiso, G. C. M., Women in African Literature. East Africa journal Vol. 8 no. 3 March 1997.

Killam, G.D., The writing of east and central Africa. Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks, 1985.

Arthur, Gakwandi, Shatto. Novel and Contemporary Experience in Africa. Holmes & Meier Publishers Inc, 1981.

E. Modupe Kolawole, Mary. “Mutiple Inscriptions and the Location of Women in China Achebe’s Novel”. Chinua Achebe An Anthology of Recent Criticism. Ed. Mala Pandurang, Pencraft International, Delhi, 2010.

Sircar, Rupali. “Masculinity, Femininity and Androgyny: Igbo Culture in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart”. Chinua Achebe An Anthology of Recent Criticism. Ed. Mala Pandurang, Pencraft International, Delhi, 2010.

Pandurang,   Mala. “Chinua Achebe and the ‘African Experience’: A Socio-Literary Perspective”. Chinua Achebe An Anthology of Recent Criticism. Ed. Mala Pandurang, Pencraft International, Delhi, 2010.

Booth,   James. Writers and Politics in Nigeria. Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1981.



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