Enakshi Samarawickrama, Hegemonic and Non-Hegemonic Masculinities in Things Fall Apart and Pow!


  • Enakshi Samarawickrama University of Nottingham Malaysia


hegemonic masculinity, toxic masculinity, subordinated masculinity, male femininity, fragile masculinity, stereotypical masculinity, feminised masculinity


This paper analyses and compares the two main types of masculinities presented in the novels Things Fall Apart (1958) by Chinua Achebe and Pow! (2003) by Mo Yan. Both novels offer male characters who display variations of dominant and subordinate masculine behaviour: Okonkwo from Things Fall Apart and Lao Lan from Pow! represent hegemonic masculinity, while Unoka from Things Fall Apart and Luo Tong from Pow! represent subordinated masculinities or even male femininities. Using Raewyn Connell’s theory of gender order and her concept of multiple masculinities, this paper offers a comparative analysis investigating the construction of the stereotypically masculine characters of Okonkwo and Lao Lan with the feminised masculinities of Unoka and Luo Tong, respectively. While both novels distinguish between hegemonic and non-hegemonic masculinities, where non-hegemonic masculinity is coded as feminine, neither form of masculinity is prioritised or considered successful in either novel, as both hypermasculinity and hypomasculinity are portrayed as being harmful.