What are the differing roles and functions the men and women have in Igbo society?Just by examining the way of family life and living arrangements..

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Ibo society has a communal structure, reflected in families and the larger village itself. The gender roles would probably be considered "traditional"-men are the providers, women are in charge of the domestic sphere. For men, this role involves some sort of physical prowess, as demonstrated by the importance placed upon the wrestling competitions. The ability to provide factors into mens' functions as well, as one who can harvest vast amounts of crops can not only feed his family, but may sell the rest for extra wealth. Thus farming and growing healthy yams is considered part of the male arena in the book. Finally, strength on the battlefield is respected in the culture. A man who brings home the heads of the enemy is considered a hero, and carries the sign of virility. Men also have many wives, another symbol of virility.

Women are in charge of some farming (not yams) & of course, raising children. Children are raised by all wives, sharing the responsibilities among all members of the family. Also, all chores are shared amongst the wives and children. Wives have their own huts, where their children return at the end of the day. The husband has his own hut as well. There may be some advantages to this arrangement: less stress on one person, perhaps. For women, strength is defined in another way. Women who show strength are able to bear children, grow and harvest women's crops, and take care of their husbands without complaint. They suffer blows, guide their children through sickness, and remain steadfast in the face of abuse. Their strength becomes a moral, internal strength, opposed to the brute physical strength of the men.