There is a considerable difference between the roles that Africanmen play and those played by the South American men. Primarily, thisis in relation to the roles they play in the family, society and thecountry at large. In the Novel, Things Fall Apart, by ChinuaAchebe, the roles of African men in the Umuofian society are clearlystipulated. It is essential to note that some of these roles havesince changed owing to the fact that civilization from the west haschanged African men’s mindsets. It is clear from Achebe’s novelthat the roles of men make them dominant over women and men’sstereotyping in Umuofia oppresses women.
Thesis: Although there are slight differences between the role ofmen in Africa and in America, they are both dominant over women andat times discriminatory and oppressive.
In Things Fall Apart, Achebe has stated that it is the role of mento provide for the family. This means that the man of the family mustgo out and work in order to bring food on the table. Men who fail toprovide sufficient food for their families are considered as weak andare equated to women. In communities where hunting and gathering werethe main activities, men would carry them out as women remained athome looking after the children (Achebe 63). African men are supposedto provide financial support to their families. While this rolecompares to that of the American man, it is essential to state thatthere are slight differences. South American men are not onlysupposed to provide the financial support, but they are also requiredto provide the emotional, spiritual and mental well-being of theirfamilies.
African men are responsible for making laws in the community.Moreover, they are tasked with the duty of deciding the punishmentsfor wrong doers. Essentially, women are not involved in the processand this is an indication of how women are suppressed in the Africanculture. However, it is essential to note that there is a goddess whopunishes men. For instance, Okonkwo was punished by the goddess forbeating up his wife during the peace week (Emenyo̲nu98). It is clear that men have the role of guiding the society anddetermining what is right and what is wrong. In South America, suchroles are unheard of. The duty of establishing the society’s moralcodes is done by all the people including the women.
Security for the family and the community is a primary role of menin Africa. When a family or a village is attacked by enemies, it isrole of the men to protect the women and children. This can beassociated with the fact that men are physically strong and in mostcases the attackers are likely to be men (Das 65). In times ofconflicts or war, African men would go to war leaving the women athome looking after the children. In South America, as much as menoffer security against any threats to their families, theirprotection roles relates to the protection of the woman’sself-worth and self-esteem. It is evident that the American men seekto provide for the emotional needs of the women rather the physicalneeds.
Chinua Achebe has asserted that men in Nigeria and especially in theUmuofia were expected to rule women. A man was valued and respecteddepending on how many women he would marry and rule. The maincharacter in the Novel, Okonkwo has three wives and they all cook forhim and have sired him children (Beere 71). There are instances wherehe beats one of the wives when she arrives home late and does notprovide him with dinner. Furthermore, men were expected to amasswealth through hard work. This would earn them titles andaccreditation from the society. This is contrary to the Americanculture were men are expected to respect women. Furthermore, theculture of siring many children and marrying numerous women a symbolof power is not prominent in the American culture.
There stereotypes both in African and America where men are expectedto be powerful, masculine and leaders of the family. Even currently,most married women are home makers and their duties are restricted tocaring for the children. Men who have acquired immense wealth aretypically respected and are mainly opinion leaders in the society.Typically, men are expected to provide for the family even ininstances where a woman is working and earning just like the man. InAfrica, it is widely believed that the man must work and should neverbe left in the house by the woman (Emenyo̲nu112). This culture is, however, different in the U.S. since morewomen are taking an active role in family life. Another widely heldbelief relates to the role of men and women with regards to kitchenchores. Primarily, women are expected to cook and serve the husband.Men who would cook in their homes were considered weak and feminine.This is a duty that is reserved for women. Again, this is not awidely accepted culture in America. Men are active in the kitchen asthey assist their wives in cooking or washing the dishes.
Suicide is more prevalent among the males than in females. This isbecause men have many expectations and needs to meet than women.Surprisingly, some of the needs that men have to meet are for theirwives. The pressure to provide for the family and conform to thesocial male stereotypes can make men to consider suicide. Notably,suicide is considered as a taboo in most African communities. Forinstance, when Okonkwo committed suicide in order to avoid facing thecolonial court, he was termed as an outcast for committing anabomination. However, the American culture views suicide as illegaland immoral, but not as an abomination. Failure is a significant riskfactor for male suicide. The psychology of men determines their rolesand expectations in the society. This puts immense pressure on themto meet these needs.
While concluding, the roles of men in African as exemplified inThings Fall Apart and the roles of men in South America are similarin many fronts. Men are expected to be the providers, protectors andleaders in their families and in the society. There are stereotypesthat make men to follow certain directions and perform certainduties. Whereas men in Africa are dominant over their wives, it isclear that American men have allowed women to participate fully inthe affair of the society. Men are placed under immense pressure fromthe society to acquire wealth and provide for their families. Thismay lead to men contemplating long term solutions such as suicide toshort term problems.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Oxford: HeinemannEducational, 2011. Print.
Beere, Carole A. Gender Roles: A Handbook of Tests andMeasures. New York: Greenwood Press, 2014. Print.
Das, Man. Gender Roles and Family Analysis. New Delhi:M.D. Publications, 2015. Print.
Emenyo̲nu, Ernest. EmergingPerspectives on Chinua Achebe. Trenton NJ: Africa World Press, 2013. Print.