In Igbo culture, the expectation for men is to display dominance over women, which means that they cannot display any qualities associated with feminine actions otherwise they will be seen as a sissy or a weak-link which will decrease your image, masculinity, and power. In the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe dominance is shown throughout the Ibo village in Nigeria. Okonkwo's actions between personal and social identity is shown throughout the novel and it is focused on social identity , and how he wants to be viewed as the dominant leader whois power and control of everything,and how he doesn't want show his personal identity,which willmaker him seem weak, powerless, and a sissy.
Okonkwo's father, Unoka is an example of someone whom Okonkwo does not want to be known as. Unoku’s mistakes took heart fond into Okonkwo's life, and he did not want to die without a title like his fathers “Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken to title.” In this quote, ¨agbala¨ is considered an insult towards men whom did not have success or died without any titles these unsuccessful men are basically called out as a woman. Unoku was one of the men who has been considered an agbala.
Okonkwo is ashamed of the fact that someone might call him or his success an agbala. In the article, “Freud's Theory of the Id Ego and Superego” it explains the different sections of the unconscious mind. “Freud believe that this part of the human beings is not inborn , and that human beings do not develop the superego part of their mind until the age of five.In other words he believed that human beings are not born with a moral sense, but that they can develop it through the rules and expectations of our caregivers.” This explains why Okonkwo grew up angry with his father because he was improvident which molded him into a violent and angry guy and he did not want to be similar to his father at all. The expectations of the village made Okonkwo into some type of “masculine and dominant” persona. Since he didn’t have a dad to look up to , because unoka was a failure.
Ikemefuna was Okonkwo's adopted son, he loved him like as if he were his real son. Although he loved him he did not show it. His role in society is what caused tragedy come in between Ikemefuna and okonkwo. In chapter seven we can see Okonkwo questioning himself and addressing the fact that his emotions is what is causing him to feel like a “woman” and is guilty for killing his adoptive son Ikemefuna, “When did you become a shivering old woman,” Okonkwo asked himself, “you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed’’ His questions towards himself is basically about him being a “woman” being guilty is part of being a coward and Okonkwo feels that any expression towards your inside feelings can harm your social identity and it shouldn’t be that way. Instead he followed the villages orders and ended up being the one who killed ikemefuna like if he was some type of stranger, without thinking twice about it.
Dominance over his many wives is shown in the novel. It expresses power, dominance , and sets the fact of who’s in charge. In chapter two we can address the fact that he has a very bad temper inside his household. All his wife’s scared of him. “Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper” this explains that all women know who’s in charge , who had the right to get mad, and who’s the one that is more dominant. The fact that they fear of his bad temper shows dominance itself. Aside from his beating to his last wife for braiding her hair shows that even the littlest thing can get him mad. Because as a wife she is supposed to make Okonkwo her first priority rather than herself. For example in the article Self-Concept by Saul McLeod it focuses on how people view themselves in the way they are insecure or how people view them. “A person's self-image is affected by many factors,such as parental influences, friends, the media etc.” This explains why Okonkwo's personality is shaped the way it is, because dominance in society and the fear of looking “weak” shaped him into this violent persona Im his household.
Therefore, the expectation for men is to display dominance over women, which means that they cannot display any qualities associated with womens actions otherwise they will be seen as a sissy or a weak-link which will decrease your image, masculinity, and power. Okonkwo's character throughout the novel shows us the role between men and women play. While men are dominant and woman aren't ,Okonkwo's legacy and toughness gave him power while the wives are just shown as a symbol of power towards men.