Gender Roles In Things Fall Apart And God's Bits Of Wood

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Gender roles are a social construct that has limited the role of women within society for centuries. In recent history, these stereotypes have begun to be challenged, revealing the true impact of women within the community. Illustrating the specific gender roles dictated by African society while explaining why they must be broken is a technique used to validate the importance of women in society. While most African societies are male led or dominated, storytellers craft social commentary to establish the relevance of feminine influence in the success of these societies. Both Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart and Sembene Ousmane in God’s Bits of Wood employ the technique of exploring the defined gender roles while pushing their limits to…show more content…
In the novel, the Senegalese railroad workers went on strike in an effort to gain better working conditions and wages. While the men were the actual strikers, the strike would not have been able to occur if not for the women at home. These women sacrificed having food on the table and an income in order to support their men. Despite their differences, the Senegalese women united for a greater good, doing whatever was necessary to ensure that the children were fed. One of the main characters, Ramatoulaye, went as far as to kill her brother’s ram, Vendredi, to provide food for the children after the ram ate the children’s rice. The police come to take the ram away as punishment for killing someone else’s property, but the women do not back down. Ramatoulaye says, “I know Vendredi does not leave here. He ate our rice; I killed him. The children were hungry; Vendredi ate the children’s rice. I’ll come with you, but Vendredi does not come. Vendredi will be eaten.” (pg. 74). The strength the women demonstrate in continuing to provide for their families by any means necessary confirms that they are the true backbone of society. However, the Senegalese women do not just stand by in support, they also take action. A large group of women made the symbolic march from Thies to Dakar, making their presence known despite the fact that they were starving and desperate. They marched through Dakar carrying banners that said, “EVEN BULLETS COULD NOT STOP US, and others, WE DEMAND FAMILY ALLOWANCES” (pg. 214). The French had dismissed the females as unimportant in terms of the strike, however, the march was what demonstrated the relentlessness of the strikers. Without the women taking ownership, the strike would not have been successful; the resolve of the women led directly to improved working conditions

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