The novels: “ Things Fall Apart,” “ The Street: A Novel,” and “ Christ in Concrete” shows the poor treatment of women in the society. The characters are true as the social issues in the novels are similar to the social issues that exist in the modern world. Achebe shows that men are cruel to women in many ways as Okonkwo treats his wives poorly. Donato shows that men makes crude jokes about the women in their lives, and Petry shows the lecherous Jones’ advance on Lutie. In essence, women show their strength against the harsh realities that they face in different societies.
Achebe’s novel “ Things Fall Apart” is based on the Western African society been exposed to the European belief to break away the Africans from the Nigerian Culture or Western African Culture. Where by the European was teaching the Nigerian that the Gods they believe in were not real the real God their God, Lord the Savior. Okonkwo a character in the book, his son, Nwoye was one of whom the European had successful adhere their beliefs. They started their mission in the village called Mbanta. These missionaries surprised the Nigerians to a great extent do to the fact that in the novel chapters 17, the missionaries gained a place to build their church in the ‘evil forest.’ Nonetheless, they would die within four days, but fortunately they did not and the elders and clan members were shocked. Okonkwo found out that Nwoye was sneaking out to attend the missionaries meeting.
Okonkwo, one of the main characters that the novel speaks to, committed many crimes against the clan in Umuofia. Njeng believes that the novel “ Things Fall Apart” articulates the “ Occidental wish of the extinction of less sophisticated cultures,” (Njeng, p. 3). In fact, Okwonkwo’s limited characterization shows that he lacks “ insight and flexibility both within his own society as well as against colonialist intrusion,” (Njeng, p. 3). Evidence of this is in chapter 4, for which he had broken the Week of Peace. His third wife, Ojiugo did not prepare his afternoon meal, and he beat her. The fact was that whoever chose to break this Week of Peace committed a great offense to the Goddess of the earth. Also in chapter 13, in trying to find himself, he accidentally murdered Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s son for which Okonkwo was exiled for seven years along with his family. Thats how he ended up on in Mbanta, the home of his mother.
Ononkwo and his family had to start all over again due to the fact that they were in a new clan and also their home in Umuofia. All events all lead up the missionaries arriving in Mbanta and eventually ended up in Umuofia where most elders and clan members with titles fell into the Christian belief of the missionaries. This novel points out that the Nigerian were ignorant to the Christian belief and even though they were evidence that the new religion was proving to be true some clans men refuse to accept the new belief and Okonkwo had thought of this as womanly and weak. Whereby in the end he would have committed one of the most womanly act in ‘his eyes’ for he had committed suicide. This also was against the Nigerian culture this action was a offends and a clans man could not have remove him from the tree where he dangled from, he didn’t get the burial like other clans men but he was left in the evil forest for he was abomination to the earth.
Okonkwo even though he finds tenderness and care as a act of womanliness, he tends not to show it, though three incidences where Chinue had show this behave to the readers, were that when he had murder the young lad of Mbaino, Ikemefuna. For he didn’t eat for two days all he did was drank palm-wine from morning until night. The death of Ikemefuna had affected Okonkwo that much was due to the fact that he was like a son to Okonkwo, he had grown into Ikemefuna. Even that night Ekwefi daughter, Ezinma falls into a sickness, malaria fever (iba), he gathers the medicine for his sick daughter quickly and boil the medicine so she could recover soon.
The following day they go to the Oracle’s of the Caves which had called for Eznima, where Ekwefi had followed Eznima and Chielo who a companied her four she is the priestess of Agbala, unaware Ekwefi wasn’t unaware that Okonkwo had followed behind and Chielo and Ezinma wasn’t aware that Ekwefi and Okonkwo trailing behind. After reaching the caves of the Oracles and waiting for a long time Ekwefi and Okonkwo returned home and stayed up waiting on Chielo to return with their daughter. Okonkwo was worried but nobody was aware of that for he had hidden this behavior.
Similarly, Pietro di Donato looks at the struggles of individuals in the society. He demonstrates the working class in his 1939 novel, “ Christ in Concrete.” Donato graphically shows the working-class Italian immigrants’ attempting to survive the struggles. Donato’s depicts the family and the society and the working situation that the Italian-Americans faced in the society. In contrast, to Achebe’s novel, Donato points to the proletarian and the American migrant literature. During the early 1920s to the 1930s, the use of Proletarian literature helped to show the hardships of the working-class people in the society. Acbebe also shows the story of struggles through his novel.
Okonkwo struggles with his inner demons and his compulsive urge towards extraordinary personal achievement driven by the fear of being impoverished as his father. Okonkwo’s fears consumes him as “ the fear of failure and of weakness,” (Things Fall Apart, p. 9) became “ deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature,” (Things Fall Apart, p. 9). In addition, Okonkwo’s fears stem from the segregation of the social classes in the father. One could argue that Okonkwo had a good life as his father was a part of the hierarchy that gave him the privilege to access ease in his life.
On the other hand, Donato looks at working-class issues. Donato uses language similar to Achebe to assimilate and control the dominant language. One could say that his main idea is to convey the Italian – American experience as individuals try to realize the American Dream. In fact, Donato draws on the language and image as he carefully constructs the timing of the horrifying environments where the Italian-Americans toiled. One of the fundamental issues in the Donato’s work is the ” aggravation,” (Benelli, par. 1), as Donato as the writer and Paul, his protagonist, “ struggle to reconcile traditional religious beliefs and customs with the failure of that very same faith to provide any tangible improvement in the immigrants’ lives,” (Benelli, par. 1). In comparison, Petry looks at the experiences of the characters as the street represents the “ physical presence and the metaphor,” (The Cycle of the Street, par. 2) in the novel. In addition, Petry shows that the novel personifies “ the street as a violent, dangerous place, inspiring a sense of foreboding that permeates throughout the rest of the book,” (The Cycle of the Street, par. 2).
That Africans and the American immigrants’ faced the problem of colonialism and adjusting to the new experiences of the Europeans and their ways. They fight the issues of colonialism in their society. One of Achebe’s aims in the novel is show the Ibo culture in an honest and vivid way. Unlike Donato, Achebe “ explains intricate customs, rituals, and laws and develops individual characters,” (External and Internal Causes of the Downfall of the Ibo, p. 1). The society in the novel functions fully as “ Achebe maintains his objectivity and avoids giving the Ibo any undue sympathy,” (External and Internal Causes of the Downfall of the Ibo, p. 1). It is quite easy for the readers to visualize the political correctness in the novel and the impact of multiculturalism on the Ibo people.
Still, “ for American immigrants, survival hinged on obtaining work, yet the work available to them subjected these immigrants to a systemic violence widely accepted,” (Boyd, par. 5) as the readers see throughout Lutie’s experiences in the novel. Similar to Donato work, a reader can easily blame the white man for the downfall of the natives. Achebe, however, shows that “ it is the acquiescence of his comrades, not the intrusion of the Europeans, which eventually causes Okonkwo to take his own life,” (External and Internal Causes of the Downfall of the Ibo, p. 1). As a result, it is hard “ to place the Ibo and the white men into traditional categories of good and evil, for each exhibits positive and negative qualities,” (External and Internal Causes of the Downfall of the Ibo, p. 1). Similar to Donato, the people were stable in their respective society long before the aliens arrived and disrupted their way of life by adding undue stress to the way lived their lives.
Petry shifts between a number of perspectives in the novel, “ The Street” and makes use of widespread flashbacks to bring across the plot. Again the themes of external forces and the impact on the individual come to the forefront in Petry’s novel. Boyd writes: “ Emerging during the 1920s and 1930s, Proletarian literature portrays the struggles of working-class life, with a specific focus on revealing class inequalities,” (Boyd, par. 1). Petry shows the issues of the Lutie, a working-class woman, as she grapples taking care of her son, Bub. Lutie believes that the ruination of her marriage stems from her husband’s, Jim, inability to find a suitable job and her choice of working with the wealthy white family.
Similar to Achebe’s “ Things Fall Apart,” relationships play an integral part in the way the characters develop. Okonkwo beats his wife, but she remains with him, but Lutie separates herself from Jim because he cannot provide the financial benefits for her family. While the males in “ Things Fall Apart” have a number of wives, Lutie becomes angry by Jim’s infidelity. The fact is that the two societies are different in regards to the structure and practice within the family, but they are similar in the poor qualities that exist within the males in the families. In reviewing the novel, Robertshaw postulates “ The Street follows the life and memories of Lutie Johnson and her son, Bub, as she seeks stability and independence in a predominantly black, poor Harlem,” (Robertshaw, par. 2). Despite Lutie’s strength and beauty, she struggles against the harsh conditions of the times. Robertshaw further adds “ Petry doesn’t treat these issues independently but rather highlights their intersection and shows the reader what challenges exist within that convergence,” (Robertshaw, par. 2).
Sex and sexual obsession is common to Achebe’s and Petry’s novels. The superintendent in the building becomes obsessed with Lutie after she moves into the apartment in Harlem. She strongly dislikes him, but still she needs to provide for her child. Jones reminisce on his past in the navy and the loneliness and frustrations he feels while he was onboard the ship. His condition gets worse when he begins to work and live in boiler rooms and basement apartments. Jones does not like his girlfriend, Min, even though she lives with him. Min lacks physical attractiveness and Jones is aggressive towards her just as Okonkwo exerts his aggressions on his wives. Children are integral to both Jones and Okonkwo. Jones becomes friends with Bub as he hopes that he can have Lutie’s attention. On the other hand, Okonkwo takes the captive boy, Ikemefuma, into his home and life as a kind gesture.
Jones and Okonkwo show that men are prone to aggression and violence and this impact the other characters in the story. Arguably, both men are aggressive for trivial reasons. Okonkwo beats his second wife and threatens to shoot her in Chapter 5 because she makes a mockery of his gun. Min refuses to tell Jones where she went after her visit to The Prophet. Both women fear the male characters in their lives as Min sought the help of The Prophet because of her fears. As a result, Jones, in his anger, advances angrily on her before he sees the cross above her bed. His superstitious beliefs surfaces when he sees the cross over her bed.
In concluding, the novels” “ Things Fall Apart,” “ Christ in Concrete,” and “ The Street” look at the way the characters impact on each other. In addition, the writers show the ways that the society changes as a result of outside influences. “ Things Fall Apart” is a reflection of the European colonizers on the practices and beliefs of the African people. On the other hand, “ The Street” shows the struggles of one woman as she tries to take care of her child in a male dominated world. The main character, Lutie, resorts to murder when she realizes that she can do nothing more to help her child. “ Christ in Concrete” shows the demeaning way in which men make jokes about the women in their lives. The direct references to the act of sex, shows the warmth and rough affections in these relationships. One could argue that men treat women in the same way throughout all the three novels and that the women deal with their situations in different ways.
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