What is the role of women in Anthills of the Savannah?

The role of women in Anthills of the Savannah is to provide a voice of reason and to show that even though they are still vulnerable, the old patriarchal ways have drawn to an end. Women are beginning to get more societal power, and their rise shows changes in traditional culture.

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Women are portrayed in Anthills of the Savannah as being capable of escaping the subordinate roles assigned to them by traditional culture. In the figure of Beatrice Okoh we have a particularly good example of the vision of emancipated womanhood that Achebe seeks to promote. Educated, articulate, and independent, Beatrice...

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Women are portrayed in Anthills of the Savannah as being capable of escaping the subordinate roles assigned to them by traditional culture. In the figure of Beatrice Okoh we have a particularly good example of the vision of emancipated womanhood that Achebe seeks to promote. Educated, articulate, and independent, Beatrice is able to give Ikem Osodi an insight into a feminist concept of womanhood.

The notion of a woman as an educator is particularly striking here; though Ikem is an intellectual and a firm believer in modernizing Nigeria, he still doesn’t fully understand the issue of women’s rights. In order to do that, he needs to rely on Beatrice. In a remarkable reversal of traditional gender roles, Ikem needs Beatrice, not the other way round.

Beatrice has always believed that the notion that a woman needs a man is nothing but male chauvinist nonsense, or words to that effect. What's more, Beatrice developed this emancipated attitude long before she'd even heard of women's liberation, indicating that there is something in the native Nigerian tradition, even amidst all the chauvinism and male oppression, on which women can draw to help them live independent lives.

Beatrice provides in miniature a possible example for other Nigerian women to follow in what is still, after all, a very traditional society as far as gender roles are concerned.

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The women of Kangan — a fictitious African nation invented by Achebe — are portrayed as intelligent and insightful, but still vulnerable to the actions of the Kangan’s men. The men prove at times to be hot-headed, irrational, and dangerous.

I would argue that the women’s role in this great novel is to provide a voice of reason. On a backdrop of political turmoil, characters such as Beatrice Okoh retain a progressive way of thinking. Beatrice wants to make something of her life despite prevailing cultural attitudes which would have her believe that, as a woman, she is inferior to men. Beatrice is intelligent and very good at her job. At the end of the novel, at the naming ceremony for Ikem and Elowa’s baby, it is Beatrice—rather than a man, as tradition would have it—who performs the ceremony.

On a sad note, it must be pointed out that the story of Chris’s death points to the existence of patriarchy and the belief that men can treat women as they please. This belief seems to be true of only a small number of Kangan’s men. Chris loses his life after coming to Adamma’s rescue after she is dragged off by a soldier to be raped.

While women are not main characters in this tale of political upheaval, their role is to be forward-thinking, modern, and empathetic.

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In Achebe's novel, women are more moral than and, in some senses, superior to men. Beatrice Okoh is the heroine of the novel. She detests some of the traditional ways of her African country, a fictitious nation called Kangan. For example, Beatrice regrets the way in which her mother resented her because she was the fifth daughter born in the family. Beatrice also senses the potential for women's progress. Her parents gave her the name "Nwanyibuife," which means "a female is also something," and she wants to live up to the promise of her name. Beatrice is determined to make something of herself and says, "That every woman wants a man to complete her is a piece of male chauvinist bullshit I had completely rejected before I knew there was anything like Women's Lib." Though she is dating Chris, she is committed to her job and rejects the notion that men define women; in addition, she understands the limitations of the men in the novel, who are portrayed as arrogant and flawed. As Beatrice tells the three main characters, Sam, Ikem, and Chris, "Well, you fellows, all three of you, are incredibly conceited." It is only Beatrice who has the foresight to see that women must be given a role in the government if their country is to make progress. She says, "But the way I see it is that giving women today the same role which traditional society gave them of intervening only when everything else has failed is not enough." She sees the flaws of the men running the country and knows that they have failed because they are not providing the people with what they need or embracing the power of women. Beatrice is an intelligent and perceptive character who represents the promise and morality of women in the novel.

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Women play an important role in Anthills of the Savannah. The author, Chinua Achebe, is notable for portraying women as  strong, believable characters.  Women are instrumental as keepers of tradition in the tribe, even as the role of tradition is changing in the face of modernity, a history of oppression, and corrupt governments.  It is also the women especially who maintain a sense of morality and humanity during times of difficulty.

Beatrice Okoh is the most completely developed woman character in the novel.  She is the fifth daughter in her family, and it is significant that her father, having wanted a son, named her "Nwanybuife", which means "A Woman Is Also Something".  Beatrice is well-educated, intelligent, and independent.  Although she navigates the modern world with confidence, she is attuned to her culture and the common people of her tribe.

Through Beatrice and other strong women characters, Achebe develops the theme of the importance of women in the future of Africa.  Ikem tells Beatrice that women, who have always been oppressed, play a crucial role in "the future of nations".  At the end of the narrative, it is significant that, at the naming ceremony of Ikem and Elowa's baby, Beatrice does the naming, even though that role is traditionally fulfilled by a man.  Even more significantly, she gives the girl child a boy's name, "Amaechina", which means "May the Path Never Close".

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