Much of the traditional Igbo life presented in this novel revolves around structured gender roles.
Essentially all of Igbo life is gendered, from the crops that men and women grow, to characterization of crimes. In Igbo culture, women are the weaker sex, but are also endowed with qualities that make them worthy of worship, like the ability to bear children.
The dominant role for women is: first, to make a pure bride for an honourable man, second, to be a submissive wife, and third, to bear many children.
The ideal man provides for his family materially and has prowess on the battlefield. The protagonist in the novel is extremely concerned with being hyper-masculine and devalues everything feminine, leaving him rather unbalanced.
Much of the gender theme in the book centres around the idea of balance between masculine and feminine forces – body and mind/soul, emotionality and rationality, mother and father. If one is in imbalance, it makes the whole system haywire.