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Things Fall Apart: Chapters 14-19
Transcript of Things Fall Apart: Chapters 14-19
When Okonkwo was banished, for seven years for accidentally killing someone, he was sent to his mother's homeland, the village of Mbanta.
Here, he had to start over, and his cousins gave him 1500 seed yams. He also built three huts for himself and his wives.
Okonkwo became very depressed because he didn't have the "vigor and enthusiasm of youth" and had to build his reputation from scratch. Even hard work didn't have the old pleasure for him.
The eldest surviving member of Okonkwo's family, Uchendu, sees Okonkwo's depression and decides to speak to him after Uchendu's son, Amikwu, is married.
Uchendu explains the importance of mothers and wives, and women in general to Okonkwo and says, "A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness, he finds refuge in his motherland." He also mentions that Okonkwo is not the worst off in the village by mentioning his own 22 dead children and 5 dead wives and basically saying that if he could get through those tough times, so could Okonkwo.
1. Shows Heiarchy of Igbo Society
So, Why Is This Chapter Important?
2. Emphasizes Role of Women in Igbo Society
3. Shows Importance of Family in Igbo Society
showed that in Igbo
society, regardless of
wealth or status, every person that has commited the same crime will be given the same punishment. It also demonstrates the responsibility that the oldest member of the
family has through
the character of
also emphasizes that even
in this male dominated,
patriarchial culture, women have a
major role. After Uchendu's son's
wedding, Uchendu explains this role to the reader and Okonkwo. He mentions how although a man is the head of the family and a child belongs to the father,one of the commonest names given to a child is Nneka which means "Mother is Supreme". Uchendu also explains that "a man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your
mother is there to protect you". Which is
very different from the roles mentioned
for women before this chapter,
mainly cooking and taking
care of the house.
This chapter also illustrates the
importance of family. When
Okonkwo is exiled from his clansmen,
he is graciously accepted by his family
members, who, even though live in a
different village, put their differences aside and came to his aid. They provided him with a quite generous amount of yam seeds, supplies and land to start his farm over again. Granted, it was not equal to the amount he had in Umuofia, but for being on exile for a murder charge, that's pretty good. His family
even helps him rebuild his huts for his
First of all,
We meet Okonkwo again in the second year of his exile, when his old friend Obierika comes to visit. He brings two huge bags of cowries with him. Okonkwo takes Obierika to salute Uchendu. The three of them talk of other villages and Obierika mentions that the village of Abame has been wiped out.
Obierka explains to a surprised Okonkwo and Uchendu that a white man had come into the village on an "iron horse" (bicycle) and when the elders of the village of Abame consulted their Oracle, the Oracle told them that "the strange man would break their clan and spread destruction among them." so the village killed the white man and "tied his iron horse to their sacred tree because it looked as if it were to run away to call the man's friends". Many days later three white men and many other men surrounded the big market in Abame, and openly fired at all the villagers, the only people that weren't killed were "the old and the sick who were at home and a handful of men and women whose chi were wide awake and brought them out of that market".
Uchendu asks if the white man had said anything before they killed him and discovers that he said something but only "through his nose" and Uchendu points out that one should never kill a man who says nothing.
Later, Obierka talks to Okonkwo and tells him that the two bags of cowries are from Okonkwo's yams that Obierka sold from Okonkwo's old yam farm. Okonkwo says "I do not know how to thank you" and Obierka says "I can tell you, Kill one of your sons for me" and Okonkwo says "that will not be enough" and Obierka replies "then kill yourself" and Okonkwo says " Forgive me, I shall not talk about thanking you any more"
And Why Is This Chapter Significant?
1. Shows Friendship Between Obierika and Okonkwo
2. Re-emphasizes peacefulness of the Igbo clan
3. Shows beauty of their language
shows the friendship
between Obierika and Okonkwo when Obierika
brings the two bags of cowries from selling the yams from Okonkwo's old farm. Planting and growing yams is very hard work(as shown previously) and even though Okonkwo has
been shamefully exiled, Obierika still feels that
he is worth that
again mentions the
peacefulness of the Igbo.
When the white man appears
in the village of Abame, he is not
met with violence. The only reason he was killed was because the Oracle told the elders that he was a threat to their village. Also, the men and women from Abame were not armed at their market, even though, as Okonkwo mentions, "they had been warned that danger was ahead. They should have armed themselves with their
guns and their machetes
even when they went
Okonkwo, Obierika, and
Uchendu, the tale of the Mother Kite
and Daughter Kite was told: "Mother Kite
` once sent her daughter to bring food. She
went, and brought back a duckling. 'You have done very well,' said Mother Kite to her
daughter, 'but tell me, what did the mother of
this duckling say when you swooped and carried its child away?' 'It said nothing,' replied the young kite. 'It just walked away.' 'You must return the duckling,' said Mother Kite. 'There is somthing ominous behind the silence.' And so Daughter
Kite returned the duckling and took a chick
instead. 'What did the mother of this chick
do?' asked the old kite. 'It creid and raved
and cursed me,' said the young kite.
'Then we can eat the chick,'said
her mother. 'There is nothing
to fear from someone
The story picks back up two years later, when Obierika again visits with sad news. Not only have white missionaries arrived in Umuofia and begun converting some clansmen to their faith, but alarmingly, Nwoye – Okonkwo’s eldest son – is one of the converts!
Flashback: Obierika discovers Nnwoye is one of the converts and asks him how his father is, and Nnwoye unhappily replies, " I don't know. He is not my father".
When Obierika visits Okonkwo refuses to talk about Nnwoye and Obierika pieces together the story from Nnwoye's mother (Okonkwo's first wife)
Flashback: 6 missionaries came to the village and tried to tell the villagers about Christianity. Unfortunately for them, their translator was not very good and every time he tried to say myself, he ended up saying my buttocks, which gave the villagers a ridiculous first impression of the missionaries.
As the villagers begin to stop listening to the missionaries and begin leaving, the missionaries burst into song which is described as " one of those gay and rollicking tunes of evangelism which had the power of plucking at silent and dusty chords in the heart of an Ibo man."
Okonkwo is fully convinced that these men are mad and hopes that he can chase the men out of the village or whip them.
Nnwoye, however was completely captivated by the humn that the missionaries sang. Somehow, the song had answered the questions about his own faith that he had not quite understood before.
So Why Does This Chapter Matter?
1. Demonstrates how the Ibo underestimate the missionaries
2. Demonstrates why Ibo would consider converting to Christianity
When the missionaries first come and talk to the villagers ridicule them and laugh at them and say they are mad, until of course, they begin singing.
Nwoye plays an
important role by showing how the Ibo were converted. Members of the clan that already had questions and doubts about their own faith were the first to accept and convert to Christianity.
And Why Does This Matter?
1. Shows Okonkwo's quick temper
2. Shows position of the father in Ibo Society
Okonkwo, without even seeing Nwoye with the Christians for himself from his cousin and when Nwoye comes home, Okonkwo threatens to choke and kill Nwoye.
Page 153 shows that fathers are usually most respected in the family. It is the later generations' job to worship and sacrifice for the father
Why does it matter?
Show tolerance of the missionaries
The outcasts of the Ibo are accepted into the church without much ridicule and page 156 is a very good example of this.
Justice among the Ibo
The Elders did not immediately jump to violence like Okonkwo wanted to. They chose to first outlaw the Christians when they felt their gods had exacted revenge on Okoli by killing.
• Within the first week of their arrival, the missionaries ask the rulers of Mbanta for land on which to build their church. Uchendu agrees, but gives them a section of the Evil Forest. No one in town wants the missionaries to stay, and they assume that any person with any intelligence wouldn’t live in the Evil Forest.
• The villagers expect the missionaries, who are busy clearing forest land for their church, to die quickly. But they don’t. The explanation for the missionaries’ success in the Evil Forest is that the white man with them can see the evil spirits through his glasses and communicate with them.
• When none of the missionaries die, they win their first three converts. During these first few weeks, Nwoye shadows the missionaries and lingers outside their church, but can't muster the courage to enter because of his (justifiable) fear of his father.
• Many of the villagers are still unsure about what the Igbo gods will do to the missionaries living in the Evil Forest. The gods sometimes let men do as they like to see if the humans will continue to defy them. However, the gods always exact revenge within 28 days. The 28th day arrives and Mr. Kiaga and the church are doing fine. They even win some more converts,
• Okonkwo hears Nwoye has been with the Christians and becomes very angry. When Nwoye comes home Okonkwo questions him and beats him until Uchendu comes in and tells him to stop. Nwoye leaves Mbanta and goes to Umuofia to learn how to read and write. Okonkwo is enraged and greatly troubled by Nwoye’s betrayal. Okonkwo blames his bad fortune – his exile and worthless son – on his chi or personal god. Part of the reason Okonkwo is so angry about Nwoye’s new religion is that he considers Christianity weak and effeminate.