A proverb can be described as a short and wise saying holding great importance and guidance. In the African culture, proverbs convey wisdom and life lessons and is seen with the Igbo culture. The Igbo people uses proverbs in their everyday conversations and is highly regarded. This essay will examine the proverb stated above and discuss the significance of it in the context used in the novel.
“If one finger brought oil it soiled the others” (Achebe, 1958: 118), means that all actions good or bad has consequences.
These actions not only effects the person but others around him like his family. This is seen in chapter thirteen when Obierika mourns Okonkwo’s crime and questions it including his own. Okonkwo’s crime takes place at Ezedu’s funeral, when Okonkwo accidentally shoots and kills Ezedu’s youngest son during the farewell dance. This leads to Okonwo as well as his family to go into exile for seven years in his motherland Mbanta.
The consequence of this action can be seen when Okonkwo’s life falls apart and those closes to him such as Nowye. Nowye is unable to forgive Okonkwo killing Ikemefuna, this leads Nowye to join the missionaries and convert to Christianity, amongst other Igbo members.
This proverb holds great power, showing why proverbs are highly regarded in the Igbo clan. This shows that indeed Okonkwo’s actions did have severe consequences which lead him to his downfall but also for his clan.
Sexism is the discrimination on the basis of one’s sex, generally against women and girls.
Various scenes makes one believe that the book is sexist. Crops are categorized by gender “His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops, like coco-yams, beans and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop”(Achebe, 1958:22). This essay argues whether the book is sexist or not, ultimately this decision is made by the reader.
Femininity to the men Igbo men especially Okonkwo is seen as a weakness, causing him to show his masculinity side by beating his children and wives, “And when she returned he beat her very heavily” (Achebe, 1958:37). The book represents the idea that women are only good enough to bear children and staying domesticated. Other incidents show that women didn’t not have much power and are seen as objects which can be traded for at any time, “The law of Umuofia is that if a woman runs away from her husband her bride-price is returned.” (Achebe, 1958:86). These incidents causes one to think that the text indeed is sexist but one should remember that in the African culture women are expected to be submissive to their husbands. This idea of a sexist text is created by the modern / colonial times as this would not be allowed. This shows how the colonial rule influence many to think that the African culture was wrong. “Mother is supreme” (Achebe, 1958:125). shows that women play an important role, if anything goes wrong women are able to bring comfort.
The role of a female goddess also shows that the book is not fully sexist. The idea of a sexist book should be based on each reader’s perspective as culture and modern ideologies play an important role in shaping these ideas.