In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, masculinity plays a prominentrole in Ibo society as it defines a man’s strength and character.
Nwoye struggleswith the idea of masculinity as he wants to please Okonkwo by being aggressiveand violent but ultimately rejects the role of masculinity by joining theChristian movement. Throughout the novel Okonkwo constantly tries to instillmasculine traits into Nwoye. When Okonkwo is telling Nwoye and Ikemefuna”masculine stories of violence and bloodshed” (53). Nwoye states that he, “knewthat it was right to be masculine and violent, but somehow he still preferredthe stories that his mother used to tell (53).
This excerpt demonstrates Nwoyerejection and lack of masculinity. In Ibo culture a man, must embrace violenceand bloodshed, or he is viewed as feminine. Nwoye completely rejects theviolence and bloodshed by stating that “he still preferred the stories that hismother used to tell” (53). His rejection of the stories is further shown, whenhe says, “And so he feigned that he no longer cared for women’s stories” (54).
If Nwoye was truly masculine, he would not have to put on a false front aboutliking his father’s stories. Okonkwo becomes increasingly worried about Nwoyeas the novel continues. When the Christian missionaries come to town, Nwoye ismesmerized by their religion and becomes a Christian without thinking twice.When Okonkwo’s uncle Uchendu says, “It’s truethat a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seekssympathy in its mother’s hut.” (134). Likewise, Nwoye seeks refuge inthe Christian religion after getting beaten by his father.
Nwoye lack ofmasculinity is on full display here as he seeks sympathy in the Christianreligion. If he was masculine like Okonkwo he would have with stood thebeatings from his father and not looked for a way out. Masculinity is how menare defined in Ibo society, Nwoye’s lack of masculine traits cause him to notbe able to fulfill his role of masculinity and thus seek refuge in the Iboreligion.