Is there any difference between Okonkwo's interaction with specific women and his understanding of women and femininity in general?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, there is a difference in Okonkwo's interaction with women which makes him a more meaningful, three dimensional character. First of all, Okonkwo's youngest wife, Ojiugo, goes to have her hair plaited and does not cook his afternoon meal. It is his anger at her that leads him on the path to his tragic downfall when he beats her during Peace Week against all the rules of the clan. Yet, he shows extreme love and devotion to his wife, Ekwefi and daughter, Ezinma, when he follows them to the Priestess and keeps watch for Ekwefi: " 'Go home and sleep,' said Okonkwo, 'I will wait here' " (Chap.11). He stays and waits so his wife can rest.

Perhaps, most importantly, when Okonkwo is banished from the clan for committing a woman's crime, he must go to his mother's land. It is there that Okonkwo learns the biggest lesson of his life about women: For when "there is sorrow and bitterness he [a man] finds refuge in his motherland" (Chap.14). Thus, Okonkwo learns the power of women and the nurturing only a mother can provide.