Chapter 5 of ‘Things Fall Apart’ provides examples of a harmonious polygamous household. Describe this household in terms of the relationship between Okonkwo’s wives and children.

In this chapter, the author attempts to present a realistic portrait of a polygamous household, which is the key unit of agriculture protection in Igbo society. In reality, many children are needed to plant, cultivate and harvest crops. Therefore, most of the men used to marry more than one wife. Historically, many wives enhanced a man’s status and often increased the prestige of the first wife. The senior wife was the head of the household, she shared every title her husband acquired, and she managed her husband’s younger wives. In many cases, the junior wives enjoyed security and prosperity in a large household. The Igbo women lived in their own houses, cooked for themselves, and raised their own children. In some cases women sold their crops in the market place and kept the proceeds. Igbo law also allowed an unhappy wife to leave her husband.

Okonkwo appears to rule his family with an iron fist, even his children are under his control. Okonkwo constantly nags and beats Nwoye his 12 years old son, because he appears to be lazy. In this chapter. Ikemefuna is introduced as a sensitive youth who protects one of his sisters. It is significant that Ikemefuna stops the younger brothers from tattling on Obiageli (Nwoye’s sister) because he is aware of what Okonkwo might do if he gets to know the truth, he wanted to keep the peace. The girls in the family Obiageli, Ezinma and Nkechi, serve their father food in a specific order because they are daughters of Okonkwo’s first, second and third-wives. Ezinma’s father is stern with her, berating her to sit like a woman and telling her that she has little sense, but inwardly, he has a soft spot for Ezinma, which he didn’t want to show her. Ezinma seems to be a model daughter; however, she cannot carry her father’s chair to the wrestling match because that was a boy’s job. These are the examples of a harmonious polygamous household of Okonkwo’s family. The men of Umuofia were very harsh in their behavior. They ill-treated them as slaves.

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