Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Things fall apart
Summary of chapter 1 : The location is Igbo village, one of the nine villages in Umuofia. Igbo is a patient and tolerant, conservative yet flexible and accommodating society whose ”Oracle never sends it out, to do battle in an unjust cause”:The main character in this book is Okonkwo, who has 3 wives,8 children and 2 brand full of yam. When he turned 18, he brought honor to his village by defeating Amalinze the cat, who was an unbeaten wrestler for 7 years.
He was called the cat, because his back never touched the ground. Okonkwo has 5 human heads hanging on the walls of his hut to attest to his bravery. Although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest men of his time. Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders opposed, if a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings and so Okonkwo did.His father's name is Unoka, who is lazy and improvident. He could not even feed his own family, was a debtor to many and was a gambler.
Okonkwo never wanted to become like his father, unsuccessful and without a title. One of Okonkwo’s playmates even called his father ”Agbala”, meaning another name for a woman or a man without a title. Although, when his father was young, he was not a failure at all. He was very spiritual and happy. His face was always beaming with blessedness.
He had his own band and dancers Egwugwu and they were always wanted to perform for as long as three or four markets, making music and feasting.
”Unoka loved the good fare, and the good fellowship, and he loved this season of the year, when the rains had stopped and the sun rose every morning with dazzling beauty”. His happiest moments were the 2 or 3 moons after the harvest, when the village musicians brought down their instruments, hung above the fireplace as well as the first kites that returned with the dry season and welcomed them through singing.
Okoye, is a musician presented at the end of the chapter. He came to visit Unoka to get his 200 cowries back, but Unoka who is a great talker sneaked out of the debt by talking about the perpendicular chalk drawn lines on the side of his huts wall. Each line represents 100 cowries. He followed by saying that he has to pay the biggest debts back first.”Our elders say that the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.
Difficult words : Spectators,Stammer,Improvident,Substantial,Stoop,Haggard,Mournful,Leisurely,Piling,Loafer,Reclining,Impending,Intricate,Brisk
Summary of chapter 2 : Just before Okonkwo fell asleep, the sound of ogene swept across the town with the town crier piercing the still night air. The town crier yelled out a message that every man of Umuofia has to gather at the market place tomorrow morning, where the town heard about a daughter of Umuofia being killed in Mbaino’s market. The woman, was the wife of Ogbuefia Udo.
The news were told from Ogbuefi Ezeugo, who was a town orator and was always wanted to speak in these occasions. Umuofia was feared by all its neighbors, because of their priests, medicine-men and their magic in wars. They always won and so Mbaino knew that Umuofia were coming for them. Umuofia gave Mbaino 2 choices, either go into war with Umuofia or lose a young man and a virgin to Umuofia. The second choice was applied. Okonkwo was asked on the behalf of the clan to go to Mbaino and get the young man and the virgin. The young man’s name was Ikemefuna and the virgin was simply a girl who decided by the clan was given to Ogbuefi Udo.
The elders or ”Ndichie” decided to give Ikemefuna to Okonkwo to take care of for 3 years. Okonkwo gave the child to one of his most senior wives to take care of.
Okonkwo’s house is also described in this chapter with each one of the wives having their own huts behind Okonkwo’s obi. Okonkwo’s first son Nwoye, is described lazy as well, which Okonkwo hates and he sees to correct through nagging and beating giving Nwoye a sad-faced youth.
Okonkwo’s fear was very well described in this chapter as well, through deep and proverb technics. His fear was compared with the forces of nature, later proven to be greater than that.
Difficult words : Amiss,Discerned,Sinister,Uncanny,Bellowed,Gleaming,Clenched,Gnashes,Ultimatum,Dispatched,Compensation,Shrine,Imperious,Interim,Perpetual,Capricious,Malevolent,Resented,Fatigue,Incipient,Prosperity,Prosperously
Summary of chapter 3 : Chapter 3 is mostly about how Okonkwo started his life without any inherits, to building his own life. This period of time, is the time where Okonkwo was surprised to have survived as well. This period of time was the hardest period of Okonkwo’s life so far. The story about Okonkwo’s father still lingers around the village, about how Unoka went to the Oracle of the hills and the caves to speak about his bad lucks in farming. At that time the most fearful priest called Chika with the full power of her god met Unoka. Chika told Unoka that he had a bad Chi (Personal god), as well as laziness. She described how neighbors passed 7 rivers to make their farm, while Unoka stayed home and offered sacrifices to a reluctant soil. Chika told Unoka that the was not a man and he should work hard to be one. When Unoka was afflicted with swelling, he was taken to the forest to die. To Unoka’s love, he took his flute with him. Swelling was an abomination to earth, and so the victim could not die in the village, nor be buried in the ground.
So here we can see the difference in Unoka and Okonkwo.
Nwakibie was a wealthy man with the highest but one title. He had 3 barns, 8 wives and 30 children. It was with Nwakibie’s help that Okonkwo planted his first yams. Okonkwo visited Nwakibie with a kola and a pot of palm-wine. Okonkwo took the wine to the middle of the circle and called Nwakibie ”Nna ayi” (Our father). He brought a gift in exchange for support/an offer.
Everyone brought out they're drinking horns from their goatskin bags. One of Nwakibie’s younger sons, who was the youngest in the group poured the wine for Okonkwo first, because he has to drink it first. Then the group drank starting with the eldest man first. Later Nwakibie called his 8 wives, which 4 of them only appeared with the others gone. Anasi, being the first wife came later, which made the other wives have to wait before begin able to drink. Anasi accepted the horn from her husband, went down on one knee, drank a bit and then gave the horn back saying nwakibie’s name and leaving. After Anasi the other wives did the same and then left. Okonkwo asked for yams, which he got even more than expected. He got 800 yams as well as 400 from his fathers friend Isiuzo. Okonkwo was the only man who Nwakibie gave yams to, because he could tell a good ripe corn by its look. Share-cropping was a very slow way of building up a barn of ones own, which was what Okonkwo had. That year was first too late with the rain and then too much rain without sun, which made Okonkwo lose his own yams, but he did not lose the yams given to him. One man tied his both to a tree branch and hanged himself in that year, which shows how difficult that year was for everyone. Okonkwo was very shocked to be alive after that year. ”He knew that he was a fierce fighter, but that year had been enough to break the heart of a lion.
At the end of the chapter, Unoka’s love and support through that year to his son is shown. ”Do not despair, I know you will not despair. You have a manly and a proud heart”. Unoka was alive then and Okonkwo had to work really hard to provide for his mother, father and 2 sisters. He could not only provide to his mother, 2 sister and exclude his father because a wife cannot eat before his husband. ”It was like pouring grains of corn into a bag full of holes”.
Difficult words : Dogged,Shrine,Beheld,Matchet, Prosperous,Contemptible,Pave,Rafter,Fowl,Mischievous,Dregs,Fend,Withering tendrils, foresight, consolation,Torrents
Summary of chapter 4 : ”Looking at a king’s mouth” said an old man, ”One could think he never sucked at his mother’s breast”. This quote was pointed at Okonkwo who rose from poverty and misfortune to one of the most well known men at that time. The man had nothing against Okonkwo, but he did not really like how Okonkwo dealt with unsuccessful men. A few weeks ago Okonkwo was contradicted from a meeting held to discuss the next ancestral feast. This made Okonkwo angry telling everyone that this meeting was for men, and whoever that excluded him from the meeting was not a man. When Okonkwo called Osugo a women, everyone took Osugo’s side and the oldest man present said ”Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble. Okonkwo apologized but did not agree.
Ikemefuna was not really decided to be in Okonkwo's house that long, but everyone seemed to have forgotten about him. Ikemefuna at the beginning tried to flee 1 or 2 times, but did not know how or to where. Nwoye’s mother tried to comfort him, but he could not stop thinking about his mother and his 3 year old sister. He said several times ”When shall I go home?” and when Okonkwo heard that and brought out his stick. Ikemefuna once vomited painfully behind the hut, but after his illness was over he was no longer as scared and sad anymore.
Okonkwo and Nwoye became pretty fund of Ikemefuna because of his folktales (Even though Nwoye had heard them, the great freshness and local flavor of the different clans made it fun to hear), his knowledge about the birds and how he could make a flute out of bamboo and elephant grass. Ikemefuna got the chance to help Okonkwo several times by carrying and accompanying him to wherever he wanted to go. Ikemefuna calls Okonkwo father as well. Ikemefuna came to Umuofia between harvest and planting, the same year Okonkwo broke the week of peace by hitting his youngest wife Ojiugo. By doing so, he insulted the earth goddess, leading to him having to pay a she-goat, a hen, a cloth and a 100 cowries to the shrine of Ani.
Ikemefuna called a corn-cob with a a few scattered grains eze-agadi-nwayi or the teeth of an old women, which reminded Nwoye of the old lady living near the udala tree. This made Nwoye laugh.
When the rain was over (The week of peace), Ikemefuna and Nwoye didn't help Okonkwo properly with the harvest and got threatened several times. The planting of the yams was only the man’s job and the women were not allowed to be involved. However, the women had their own specific job to plant maize, melons and beans.
Difficult words : Brusqueness, Contradicted, Benevolent, Sternly, Repentant, Spoilt, Valediction, Disquieting, Intervene, Dynamism, Persistent, Thatched, Arduous, Poignant, Splendour
Summary of chapter 5 : In this chapter Okonkwo’s second wife is introduced Ekwefi, with her only daughter Ezinma (10 years old) as well as Obiageli who is Nwoye’s sister.Nikechi was the daughter of Okonkwo’s third wife. The feast of the new yam begins after the planting of all the vegetables as well as yams. According to the tradition, you should offer the yams to the god Ani as well as the ancestors of which have been buried to the ground first. Because Ani is the earth goddess and it was because of her help that the plants grew the way they did and she is the source of all fertility. The ancestors however are offered to because they are buried in the earth.
A man with a strong arm has to invite a lot of people to his feast as well as making a lot of food. Okonkwo has 3 wives which means he invited all their relevant as well, making a big feast. The traditional food is yam foo foo and vegetable soup. Okonkwo is not so fond of sitting and waiting for this feast to begin and be over, because he rather likes to work in his barn, but he is still pretty excited for the food and the wrestling match, which will take place in the ”Ilo”. Ilo is as old as the village. It is a playground where all the matches and feasts take place. The drums start at noon, but the wrestling starts when the sun begins to sink. Okonkwo’s second wife got beaten before the yam feast, because she wanted to cut of a few leaves from the banana tree to have something to wrap the food with. She got beaten and when Okonkwo left for hunting for the first time with his unused gun from a blacksmith the second wife whispered her thoughts and so got threatened with the gun.
Another interesting thing in this chapter is the fact that when people are called they do not say yes, but they say ”Is that me?” in the fear of it being an evil spirit.
Okonkwo is pretty fund of Ezinma, because of how helpful she is as well as in a scene where she asks if she can carry his chair for him even though it was a boy's job.
Difficult words : Deity,Shrivelled, Excitedly, Tentative,Prowess,Clambered,Heaved,Sternly,Throbbed
Summary of chapter 6 : The whole village have gathered around in ilo, leaving the center of the playground free for the wrestlers. Two young men, with palm fronds kept the circle in shape by beating the ground infant of the crown, or if they would be stubborn, their legs and feet. Drummers, lined in order of the size were possessed by the drum spirit. Young boys (15-16 years old) started first, with Maduka, son of Obierika taking the crown with his flash like moves.
The drummers took some rest before the real matches with the leaders of the top wrestling groups. Chielo the priestess of the oracle of the hills stood right beside Ekwefi and they just noticed each other, because of the heavy crowd. Chielo had heard about Ekwefi getting a beating from Okonkwo and called it ”Challenged by your own chi”. She also asked about Ezinma, calling her ”Her own daughter”. Ezinma is also called Ezigbo ”The good one” from Nwoye’s mother for being helpful. Ikezue and Okafe were the 2 different leaders that played against each other, ending up with Okafo winning with a kick to the head.
Difficult words : Taut, Frenzy, Prophesied, Surge, Seize, Disembodied
Summary of chapter 7 : Nwoye and Ikemefuna did not hang out in Nwoye’s hut anymore, but instead in Okonkwo’s hut listening to masculine bloodsheding stories. Somehow Nwoye liked his mothers stories a lot more, but because of how much it pleased his father to see him masculine, he behaved like women were peasant to rule upon. If a man would ask him to do chores, he would gladly, but he would grumble if a woman asked him to do anything from now on. Okonkwo knew that all of the changes in Nwoye were from Ikemefuna. Locust comes only once in a generation and last time they came was in the cold harmattan season after the harvest had been gathered. They would appear and stay for only seven years and then go back into their caves guarded by stunted men. Now the locusts were finally back in a large mass. People were so happy with this event.
People would catch, roast and eat them immediately, while the elders waited until night time when their wings were wet from the dew and catch them easily. One day the oldest man in this quarter of Umuofia, Ogbuefi Ezeudu approached Okonkwo. Ezeudu was a fearless warrior in his days and now awarded great respect from all the clan. He told Okonkwo that the Oracle of the hills and the caves have decided to kill Ikemefuna in the forest. He also said that Ikemefuna calls you his father and you should have nothing to do with his death ”Do not bear a hand in his death”. Okonkwo still followed along to the forest. Ikemefuna was not afraid, until the man behind him with the loud throat sound growled at him for looking back.
Through the journey to get to the forest, Ikemefuna thought about his mother and now 6 year old sister, wishing for them to be alive. He played the song, which his mother sang when he was younger and if the song ended with his right leg his mother would be alive and if not, she would be dead. First it ended with the right, but the second did not which according to Ikemefuna did not count. The first voice went to Chukwu, Gods house. On the way the group also spoke about which clan the music came from. It was an ekwe, but the men thought of it being an ago dance. No now could for sure say if the song came from Abame, Ezimili or Aninta. They also spoke about their women, the locust and some effeminate man who refused to come.
The throat itched guy rose his matchet and Ikemefuna’s wine filled pot fell. Ikemefuna ran to Okonkwo with fear and tears and Okonkwo did not want to seem weak, so it ended up with Okonkwo cutting his head off.
Difficult words : Tendril, Grumble, Feign, Stunted, Harbingers, Frond, Haze, Copiously, Effeminate, Pestle, Elusive, Sparse, Sheathed, Prosperous, Espied, Rebuked, Harbinger, Counselled, Solitary, Jest
Summary of chapter 8 : Okonkwo did not eat food for 2 days and his eyes were as red as a rat dashed against the wall. On the third day he asked his second wife Ekwefi to roast some plantains for him with some oil-beans and fish, just the way he likes it. Ezinma brought the food in to his hut and sat there to make sure he ate it all. Okonkwo offered some of the fish to her as well as telling her to being some water. He said to himself how much he wished Ezinma to be a boy and how happy he then would be.
Okonkwo later visited Obierika and asked him why he did not come with to the forest. Here Obierika’s opinion about the decision is clear that he would neither disagree to the decision of the clan, nor be a part of it. The same day the suitor for Obierika’s daughter Akueke arrived with his father and uncle is the half-sister of Maduka and she wore a Jigida around her waist and had her arms and stomach painted with ink.
PROVOCATIVE WORDS LIKE SUCCULENT BREASTS OF AKUEKE. Jigida and Fire are not friends, which made Akueke have to carefully remove it. Jokes about white people was made in this chapter, like the white chalk that everyone had to draw with on the ground before eating the kola nuts. Amadi is a white person that passes the village frequently.
Difficult words : Plantains, Valour, Scalded, Coiffure, Succulent
Summary of chapter 9 : For the first time in three nights, Okonkwo finally slept. When he woke up he had already a mosquito bite on his left thigh and a mosquito was buzzing beside his one ear, reminding him about a ”Silly” story his mother told him about mosquitos.
Ekwefi ran to Okonkwo’s hut for help, because of the ill Ogbanje kid, Ezinma who was dying again. Okonkwo ran to get some medicinal roots and leaves, believing that Ezinma only had the Ibo.
Ekwefi was worried over the fact that her ninth child was going to die again. An Ogbanje child, is a stubborn child that dies over and over again, returning to her/his mothers womb and being reborn again. A year ago they asked for help from a very well known medicine-man Okagbue to give advice for Ekwefi’s mourning cycle of dead kids. He tried and found Ezinma’s iiyi-uwa with patience, something Okonkwo did not have during the whole journey as well as telling Okonkwo to make the baby in his own obi from now on.
Ezinma shivering and almost choking from all the steam, was finally drenched in perspiration and slept. Many of Ekwefi’s children have died all named with hope, like Onwumbiko ”Death I implore you”, Ozoenmena ”May it not happen again and so on. Onwumbiko died after 15th month, mutilated by Okagbue, wishing for the spirit to not dare to jump back in Ekwefi’s stomach again.
Nwoye’s mother on the other hand was very happy about her strong kids and celebrated, while Ekwefi was sad about her own chi. This made her misunderstand Ekwefi’s mourning to envy of Nwoye’s 3 sons.
Naming a child accused in the market.
Difficult words : Kenner, Rebuke, Conspiracies, Resignation, Elude, Resignation, Listless, Manifest, Sprightly, Perspiration, Agility, Astride
Summary of chapter 10 : A court like ceremony was held by the 9 evil forest men ”Egwugwu” . Egwugwu’s house faed the forest, from which they emerged from. The elders sat in behind the Egwugwu, on their stools. The women were allowed to be present, but it was clear from the way the people stood or sat that the ceremony was for men. The women looked on from the fringe, like outsiders. Any thoughts that the women would have, they would have to keep for themselves. Like the way all of Okonkwo’s wives thought of how he did not sit with the elders and how the second Egwugwu’s springy walk looked just like Okonkwo’s.
Uzowulu and his relatives stood on one side, with Uzowulu’s wife, Mgbafo with her brothers on the other side. The two sides spoke, starting with Uzowulu, bowing down with the right hand touching the ground showing submission. He spoke about how Mgbafo’s brothers took her away from him one day, without paying the bride-price back. Mgbafo’s spoke as well about how she got a miscarriage after Uzowulu heating her heartless. He regularly hit her and two witnesses agreed from Uzowulu’s neighborhood. Egwugwu told Uzowulu at the end, that he should beg his wife to come back with a palm wine and the brothers of Mgbafo should allow her to go back.
The next group approached and the court started all over again.
Difficult words : Fringe, Stampede, Pandemonium, Esoteric, Restrained, Subsided, Approbation, Dispute, Trifle
Summary of chapter 11 : The moon was rising later and later, by each day. Ezinma and her mother, Ekwefi sat on a mat after their supper eating soup, with a palm-oil lamp giving a yellowish tone the environment. Ezinma and Ekwefi would take turns on being stories. Ekwefi told about Tortoise and his sneaky move of convincing the birds to borrow him a feather each to fly to the sky, getting the whole meal for himself using the trick of calling himself ”All of you”. Ezinma started to tell her story, until Chielo came to Okonkwo’s hut, knocking on the door and being possessed by the god. She took Ezinma away first walking al the way to a far away village Umuachi, then turning back to the cave. Ekwefi could not resist but to follow her all the way, but keeping distance.
Okonkwo did also follow along, but could not find them until the fourth try. While Ekwefi and Okonkwo were waiting on the hill outside of the cave's mouth, Ekwefi could not help but to think of the time she left her husband Anene for Okonkwo, having a sensual night in his hut with him around her waist.
Chielo came out of the cave after a while and brought Ezinma back to her bed with her still sleeping on her back.
Difficult words : Impenetrably, Forsook, Mortar, Notorious, Famine, Voluble, Eloquent, Plumage, Delectable, Consolation, Vigour, Profound, Sullenness, Incipient, Trudged, Looming, Mocked
Summary of chapter 12 : The following morning, Obierika was celebrating his daughter Uri. The day in which the girls suitor, having already paid the bride-price, being palm wine to not only the relatives, but to the kinsmen (Umunna) as well. Okonkwo and his wives were invited to help Obierika’s mother and the girl Akueke with the celebration. The whole village would be invited, the women would bring goods and all the stoves would be busy, boiling the soup and the fish.
This is known for being the women celebrations. Ibe was Akueke’s suitor and he and his relatives brought 50 palm-wines. Obierika had sent Nwankwo too buy a goat from Umuike’s market. The men sang, followed by the women dancing around the too relatives forming a circle. Then it all ended with Akueke leaving to live with her suitors family for seven market weeks. ”If I hold her hand, she says don't touch. Ig I hold her foot, she says don't touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretended not to know”.
Difficult words : Hastily, Beckons, Maidens, Coiffure, Prominent
Summary of chapter 13 : An announcement spread out from the Ekwe. Ezeudo, a great and beloved man from the village had died. This message was specifically sent to Iguedo of the yellow grinding stone, where Okonkwo lived. Everyone from the clan attended to his funeral. Guns were shut, cannons fired and everything was cut down on the way from plants to animals. Egwugwu, ancestral spirits would appear from time to time with machetes running insanely. They would only be restrained with a rope held around their waist. Men would dance around on from the ground to the top of their houses. It is a belief that a man’s life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors.
Speeches were held as well as drums and dances. Ezeudo’s 16 year old son, got accidentally shot by a piece of iron from Okonkwo’s gun. It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clansman. There are two kind of commitments, female and male. He had committed the female ”Ochu”, because of it being inadvertent. He had to leave the land, which he did with his family to his motherland Mbanta, jut beyond Mbaino leaving some resourced of his yams in Obierika’s house. After Okonkwo and his family left, the other neighbors and Obierika burn down his house, not because of anger, but to cleanse the wrath that was loose on the land by the earth goddess. As the elders said, if one finger brought oil it soiled the others.
Difficult words : Lamentation, Frenzy, Rend, Befitted, Tumult, Gutteral, Clanging,
Summary of chapter 14 : Okonkwo, his 3 wives and his 11 children arrived to his motherland, Mbanta. His mother had died 30 years ago, so Okonkwo and his family decided to live in Uchendu’s house. Uchendu was his mother's younger brother, who received Okonkwo’s mother 30 years ago and buried her, right in her own land. Okonkwo had arrived to Mbanta, during the time when Uchendu’s youngest son, Amikwu was about to get married. Amikwu had already payed the bride-price and the only thing left was the ceremony/confession. It was a full gathering of Umuada, of which everyone one from both of the families had gathered for the confession. The bride sat in the middle with Uchendu by her side and a hen in her right hand. Njide, Uchendu’s eldest daughter who had just arrived from a Obodo which is nearly a half a day's journey asked the questions to the bride. ”How many men have lain with you since my brother first expressed the desire to marry you?”. ”None”.
By holding the staff in Uchendu’s hand, she promised what she said was the truth. After the ceremony, Uchendu called for his sons, daughters and nephew. His desire was most to speak about the exile to Okonkwo. He asked him why the most common name we give out children is Nneka ”Mother is supreme” and why his mother was buried in her own motherland and not in the fatherland or in her husband's land. ”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. She is buried there. And that its why we say that mother is supreme”. Uchendu continued speaking about the amount of children and wives he has lost and buried and how Okonkwo is not really the most sad man alive. 6 wives and 22 kids gone!
Have you not heard the song they sing when a woman dies?
For whom is it well, for whom is it well?
There is no one for whom it is well.
Uchendu told all his kids to become Okonkwo’s kinsmen from their on. Okonkwo got a plot of ground to build his hut on as well as 3 pieces of land to farm on. He built his wives huts, his own, a shelter of his ancestral fathers and symbols of his god. Okonkwo also got 300 yams from each of Uchendu’s sons to start farming. It had been a long time since the rain had come. The land was torched and as soon as the ice rain poured down from the sky a joy flourished through the village.
Okonkwo did not have as much joy to work anymore, because it was like beginning a new life without any vaguer and enthusiasm of youth.
Difficult words : Requisite, Crest, Chirped Merrily, Fluttered, Affirmed, Affirmation, Deliberately
Summary of chapter 15 : Obierika and 2 young men brought enormous bags of cowries to Mbanta to Okonkwo. The cowries were all the money gained from selling the yams that Okonkwo had left eight Obierika. You can see the bond between Okonkwo and Obierika with the jokes they make at the end of the chapter about how Okonkwo can repay Obierika’s kindness, through killing one of his sons or himself. Obierika and the 2 young men visited Uchendu’s hut, where he spoke about the Abame clan wiped out after the white men attack. A white man with an iron horse was found in the village, got killed by the people and his horse got tied up by the holy silk-cotton tree, so that he won't go back to the white people and guide them back. It was at the day of Eke that the abate people fled to Umuofia for protection. Uchendu called the Abame people fools for killing the first white man before even letting him speak. Because at the day of Afo, where the whole clan surround the market, white men shot everyone down leaving barely anyone alive.
Difficult words : Beckoning, Woeful, Terrain, Ominous, Strayed
Summary of chapter 16 : After nearly 2 years, Obierika visited Okonkwo again to ask why Nwoye was on the missionaries side who had come to Umuofia. There was 6 men, with one white guy who spoke about their new religion, how there is only one god and how everyone should stop praying to false gods who make you kill your own children. Okonkwo didn't answer Obierika and obierika only got some scraps of information of Nwoye’s mother. Nwoye was not really on the missionaries side for because of how he no longer saw his Okonkwo as his father. But for the amount of questions he had of everything that had happened in his life. The new religion and its hymn was like a drop of frozen rain melting on the dry plate of the panting earth.
Okonkwo and the others sat the missionaries as fools, who dared to talk ill about the plans gods and ancestors. It was not the mad logic of the trinity, but the poetry of the religion that had captivated and puzzled Nwoye’s full mind. The missionaries were known as efulefu men, who did sold their mattes and wore the sheath to battle, a man without title.
Difficult words : Evangelist, Heeded, Deceit, Enthralled, Evangelism, Derisive, Marrow, Hymn, Callow, Parched, Benevolently, Interpreter
Summary of chapter 17 : The missionaries asked to talk to the king of the clan, which the clan did not really have. The clan had men with title instead. It was really difficult to gather all the elders together after the excitement of the first
day. The elders finally gathered around and heard the missionaries wish. They wanted their own ground to build the church on. Uchendu felt like tricking the missionaries by giving them a land, but from the Evil forest where all the badly diseased men and women were dumped in. The missionaries accepted with gratitude and staring building their church. The clan expected them to die in about 4 days, but after 3 days they all were still alive.
This shocked the clan severely. Nneka, the wife of Amadi joined the church, because she saw the church be more accepting of her. She had been 4 times pregnant before, each time with twins and they had been thrown away. One day Okonkwo’s cousin saw Nwoye among the christians and he immediately sent the message to Okonkwo. Okonkwo was very silent and at afternoon, when Nwoye returned home he got strangled by Okonkwo threatening his life. Uchendu told him to release the boy and Nwoye left without looking back. He left to Umuofia, where Mr.brown had built a school where they taught young christians to read and write. Okonkwo’s emotions were all over the place, from thinking of wiping the whole missionary out with his matchet to him thinking his wife cheated on him and that's why he has such a disobedient of a son.
Difficult words : Impudent, Riddance, Unduly Perturbed, Intoned, Miscreant, Annihilation, Vile, Impotent, Dispersed, Impudent, Effeminate, Degenerate,
Summary of chapter 18 : Stories went around that the white people had not only brought a new faith to the clan, but a new government as well. People who had killed anyone from the missionary were executed and they had also built a place of judgment in Umuofia. But Mbanta did not really feel affected by the relationship it had between itself and the church. Even though Mr Kiaga, the interpreter who was now the one responsible of the infants congregation.
One occasion the missionaries over stepped their boundaries by heating people for their fake god believes until streams of blood flooded around. A new man called ”Osu” was presented in this chapter. A man dedicated to god, an outcast living in a special area away from the other.
Okoli killed the python ”Our father”, the most revered animal in Mbanta. If anyone killed a python, they would have to assemble an expensive funeral and make sacrifices of atonement.
A group with Uchendu and Okonkwo decided to Ostracize the missionaries first before attacking the, so none of their sins falls on the clan.
Difficult words : Derision, Lepers, Heathen, Adherents, Emanation, Python, Zeal, Prevailed, Blasphemes, Defaecates, Ostracize, Thenceforth, Quarry, Hath Wrought, Debar, Perplexed,
Summary of chapter 19 : After the last big rains, it is time for treading red earth with which to build walls. This needs to be done on time, not to early or the rain will wash it away and not to late because the harvest season will dry it up to fast. This was Okonkwo’s last year and he sent money to Obierika to build his hut for him. Okonkwo could not return a year earlier to build his hut himself, because then he would take some of the 7 year penalty again. He would have to wait until the dry season would come. Okonkwo and his 3 wives prepared a big feast as a thanks, as well as gathering all the kinsmen together. The feast ended with Uchendu breaking the kola nuts, praying to the ancestors and giving a speech to Okonkwo. Uchendu wished him health and children. Not wealth because with health and children comes wealth. Okonkwo explained as well that this feast is not to pay back for all the things he has got from the clan. A child cannot pay back for his mothers milk. It is to gather all the kinsmen together. Uchendu expressed his emotions, telling the clan that the next generation needs to know how important this tradition of gathering all the kinsmen together is.
• It was in fact one of them who in his zeal brought the church into serious conflict with the clan a year later by killing the sacred python,
• Mr. Brown preached against such excess of zeal.
Difficult words : Seizable Heap, Slanting, Wherewithal, Spittle
Summary of chapter 20 : Ugbuefi Ugona, a man with two titles joined the Christians and cut of his anklet as a symbol. The white men had built a court where the district commissioner judged cases in ignorance. That had court messengers who were also soldiers to the court called Kotma. They kept an eye on the prisoners, hit them as well as made them do all the dirty work. The prisoners called them Ashy buttocks, because of their ashy colored shorts.
They made a song for them as well. ”Kotma of the ash buttocks, he is fit to be slave. The white man has no sense, he is fit to be a slave.” It was not going so well for Okonkwo either. When a lizard loses its tail, a new one grows back out. Which meant that Okonkwo’s new house was not empty anymore. Okonkwo made Ezinma and her half sister Obiageli to make a promise and not get married until they would get back to Umuofia. Ezinma understood completely, which gives us another hit of how similar Ezinma and Okonkwo are. Obiageli and Ezinma had the same relationship as Nwoye and Ikemefuna had. Ezinma was like a role model to Obiageli and wielded a strong influence on her. Ezinma had to explain her father's meaning behind his request to Obiageli, which shows that Ezinma is the only child which has the closest bond with Okonkwo.
Another man from the clan named Aneto got killed by the Kotma after he killed Oduche and fled. Oduche died 7 nights later. Kotma caught Aneto and hanged him in the court.
Difficult words : Irreparable, Resilient, Buoyant Maiden, Wielded, Sacrament, Astray, Indignity
Summary of chapter 21 : Nze na Ozo Society is a traditional patriarchal institution that confers the Ozo title to deserving, qualified men; generally these men and boys derive from wealthy families. People are getting more and more attracted to the missionary. The missionary contributed to the village of Umuofia by building a trade store starting to export palm-oil and kernel. In doing so the village flourished in wealth. Mr Browns calm and restrained personality, holding back any sort of a rath against the clan builded up a growing feeling among the people. He spoke very energetically but was not expedient. Enoch, a member on the christian side on the other hand was not easy to restrain. Enoch’s father was the priest of the snake cult. The new story of Enoch killing and eating the python went around. Mr brown builded more trust by preaching against such excess of Zeal.
Okonkwo from his first year of exile prepared himself for his return, building 2 new huts for his 2 new wives, twice as big of a hut and barn, stronger than ever.
Akunna was one of the great men in the clan who had build a great relationship with Mr brown. Akunna also sent his son to Mr brown's school to learn about the new path. Mr brown paid a visit to Akunna’s obi every time he went to the village and they spoke about their own faith, but never succeeding in converting each other. Akunna spoke about how their god Chukwu made the earth and all the other smaller gods. The smaller gods are like his messenger and the people worship and worry the smaller gods more than the main god out of respect. People fear Chukwu for doing not knowing his will, who knows his will, it is to great to be known. While in Mr brown's religion no one fears the god as long as they do as the god says. In Akunna religion there are smaller gods, like messengers of the god, just like how Mr.brown is a messenger from England. Mr browns new administration earned a new social prestige. Mr brown ignored the hints of sickness until he broken and sad left his flock.
Okonkwo returned with his two young adult daughter and 2 new wives to Umuofia, but he did not get the reaction he expected. The village was different now, of course the girls got some attention and proposals came, but no one was really excited of their great warriors return. Okonkwo mourned of how the people had changed and the new religion had created a destruction among the peoples beliefs.
Difficult words : Dispensation, Vaguely Akin, Restraining, Expedient, Rafters, Trod, Prophesied, Singlet, Grieved
Summary of chapter 22 : Mr brown's successor, James Smith came to the village to replace Mr brown's throne. James smith is the opposite of Mr Brown. He condemned Mr brown's compromise and accommodations. He sees black and white, and black in Mr Smith’s eyes is bad. He believes the kingdom of god does not depend on large numbers. He completely dislikes the believes of the clan, like Ogbanje child and mutilating bodies.
Enoch caused a huge conflict between the church and the clan when he allowed that Egwugwu shall not touch the church and removed one of the Egwugwu masks. By doing so he revealed the mortality of the person behind the mask, causing disbelief among the people. Enoch was restrained and imprisoned in the church, although he disapproved believing that the holy war was imminent. That same night, the mother of the spirits walked the length and breadth of the clan weeping, eerie voices of countless spirits, bells clattered and matches clashed. The next day Egwugwu gathered in the marketplace, Otakagu from Imo and Ekwensu, dangling a white cock from Uli. Elders with charms and amulets around their neck came together as well. They were men with strong arms in Ogwu, medicine. Mr Smith feared the gathering, wondering what the clan was planning. Mr smith was in the church when the masked spirits arrived. Okeke was also in the church and he was not on Mr Smith’s kind side, because he wished Enoch to die. By Enoch being prisoned he would only bring more wrath against the church. Okeke was an interpreter and e translated the masked spirits words. The maskers wished no harm and only wanted Mr Smith to leave. They did not wish him harm because they likes Mr brown and his foolishness. The masked spirits wanted to compromise, speaking about how they both did not like each other's religions and just wanted Mr smith to go home. Mr Smith wanted to stay in god's house and not leave the church in danger. The masked spirits left the red earthed colored church and the spirits of the clan were briefly pacified.
Difficult words : Deity, Deterred, Bereaved, Idolatrous, Clamouring, Desecrated, Personage, Discordant, Tremors, Profane, Imminent, Desolate heap, Rebuked, Pacified, Reverend, Accommodation, Compromise,
Summary of chapter 23 : For the first time in many years Okonkwo was kind of happy again. People were listening to him, making amends of turning false on him. Okonkwo had spoken vigorously to the clansmen in the market and they all had listened. It was like the good old days, when warrior was a warrior. Although they had not agreed to kill the missionary and drive the new religion away, they destroyed the church. 2 days after the destruction of the church, the district commissioner’s interpreter with his sweet mouth invited 6 clans men, including Okonkwo and Uchendu to the headquarters. Okonkwo told all the men to be armed with matchets. Ogbuefi Ekwueme started to explain Enochs story and their anger toward his behavior while the commissioner and 12 other men listened carefully. After the story they were immediately handcuffed and taken to the guardroom. The commissioner told the elders that he is treating them as his queen would towards people that would molest, hurt people and burn people's worship houses. They asked the 6 elders to give in 200 cowries to be released, otherwise they would be hanged in Umuru. The 6 elders did not get to eat, drink or urinate for 3 days. They sat quietly until the third day came along and they could not bare their hatred and hunger anymore. Okonkwo spoke about how they should have killed the white man when they had the chance when the court messenger came and hit them all on the head. The village was quiet for days, rumors went around of what was happening to the 6 elders in the headquarters. Women did not gather around to learn new dances and men stayed home. Finally the village crier’s appeal the men of Umuofia met in the market place and decided to collect 250 cowries without delay. The court messenger was the one who added the 50 cowries.
Difficult words : Palavers, Substantial, Scuffle, Sheathed, Dominion, Pauper, Sullen, Snarled, Taunt, Sonorous, Homestead, Appease
Summary of chapter 24 : The prisoners were set free after the fee was paid. The commissioner spoke about his queen but none of the 6 elders listened. They were given back their matchets and goatskin bags to go back to Umuofia. None of the elders spoke to each other, and no one on the patch that met them welcomed them (Nne) because of their fearsome and heavy faces. The path led to the steam as it also did to the headquarters, which made many women and children with pots on their heads see the elders. Ezinma who had broken the 28 day tradition to stay in her husband's family had cooked some food for Okonkwo, which he without hunger ate to please Ezinma. Okonkwo barely rested on his wounded/whipped back and the only thing he could hear was the town crier passing by his compound telling the people to gather at the market place tomorrow. The only thing Okonkwo could think of was to condemn Egonwanne and his sweet tongue that can change fire into cold ash. The people gathered around in the market place the next morning with Onyeka collecting attention through the traditional ”Omuofia Kwenu, Yaa” and Okika spoke about the disaster upon them from the white man when the head messenger and the court messengers approached the market place telling the people : ”The white man whose power you know too well of has ordered the meeting to stop”. Okonkwo drew his matchet and killed the head messenger. The other messengers managed to flee and a fear spread among the people wondering why Okonkwo did what he did. Okonkwo knew the people were to weak to fight back, wiped his matchet on the sand and left.
Difficult words : Astir, Suppressed, Vengeance, Impotence, Sacrilege, Perching, Twig, Bale, Boast, Crouched, Tumultuous
Summary of chapter 25 : The district commissioner arrived at Okonkwo’s compound finding several other men in his obi. They asked the men to get out of the obi and asked for Okonkwo. Obierika answered that he is not here, but if he shows them where he is they may be able to help him. The commissioner was confused of what they were supposed to help with. They had to go around the compound and found Okonkwo’s body dangling, tied to a tree. The clansmen could not touch or bury him, because a man who kills himself is an offense to the earth and an abomination. The strangers could bury him and they would be payed for it as well. The district commissioner returned with 4 other soldiers to his home, thinking that he should never involve himself in such an undignified action as cutting down a man from a tree. Such attention could bring poor opinions about him from the natives. He also thought how much of an interesting book it would be to write about man who had killed a messenger and then hanged himself. He had already named the book ”The pacification of the primitive tribes of the lower Niger”.
Difficult words : Superfluous, Infuriating, Skirted, Fowls, Instantaneously, Undignified
Log 1 :
The book's title definitely influences the expectations one has on the book and its story. Based on the title, I as the reader await big conflicts ahead of me. The first chapters starts off directly introducing the main character (Okonkwo), how his fame rests on solid personal achievements as well as how he conquered the great Amalinze. Physical power seems to mean a lot in the village with men of title and sexism in each corner. Women are already introduced as less worthy than men. The culture has specific morals and beliefs of how a women needs to behave around men and what position they have in the society :
The planting of the yams was only the man’s job and the women were not allowed to be involved. However, the women had their own specific job to plant maize, melons and beans.
”If I hold her hand, she says don't touch. Ig I hold her foot, she says don't touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretended not to know”.
Other disrespectful names for women like “Agbala”.
Chapter 1 to 6 is very much focused and detailed about Okonkwo’s life as well as the new member in the family, a young boy named Ikemefuna who eventually became Okonkwo’s favorite son as well as Nwoye’s role model.
Log 2 :
In chapter 5 Okonkwo’s second wife is introduced who is called Ekwefi. Ekwefi and Okonkwo have a history of hate and love together. They have gone through the pain of the curse (Ogbanje child) as well as their strong love for eachother that led to Ekwefi breaking the rules and leaving her current husband for Okonkwo. Okonkwo is not only fund of Ekwefi but also of their child Ezinma, whom he repeatedly wished to have been born a boy instead because of her personality and strength.
Chapter 9 : Ekwefi ran to Okonkwo’s hut for help, because of the ill Ogbanje kid, Ezinma who was dying again. Okonkwo ran to get some medicinal roots and leaves, believing that Ezinma only had the Ibo. Ekwefi was worried over the fact that her ninth child was going to die again. An Ogbanje child, is a stubborn child that dies over and over again, returning to her/his mother's womb and being reborn again.
Overall Ekwefi and Ezinma are involved a lot more often (Nwoye is also involved but mostly through Okonkwo and his opinions about him) than the other kids and two wives. The book made me really believe that Okonkwo is fund of Ekwefi and Ezinma the most in his big family, thus me picking them as my favorite characters.
Ikemefuna’s life story and his role in the novel was so sad and heartwarming as well considering how much he changed Okonkwo’s family by just being there. Ikemefuna became Nwoye’s role model, thus turning Nwoye into a better son which Okonkwo appreciated as well. Okonkwo's and Ikemefuna’s bond together became very strong over time as well to the point of Ikemefuna calling Okonkwo “Father”.
Log 3 :
The author has truly done a great job, because I infact can visualize each scene and I still remember them. I enjoyed the scene in chapter 11 the most, because the environment, colours and the moment in general was explained in details. How the time of the year was described (moon rising later and later by each day) and how Ezinma's and Ekwefi's yellowish environment was described with the palm-oil lamp made me feel warm in the cold climate of sweden.
Chapter 12 was mostly about the marriage and how it is performed step by step in the Igbo village. It was pretty interesting to read about how specific and focused everyone are in that society when it comes to marriages. It was apparently very important for the women to be coloured all over her body with a waist chain as well as the bride-price and the 50 palm-wines that HAD to be brought in by the suitor. The importance of marriage was very loud and clear, considering the whole village being invited and the many stoves of fish and soup being cooked.
”If I hold her hand, she says don't touch. If I hold her foot, she says don't touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretended not to know”.
Guns were shut, cannons fired and everything was cut down on the way from plants to animals. Egwugwu, ancestral spirits would appear from time to time with machetes running insanely. Speeches were held as well as drums and dances. I can imagine the loud noises and the intense crowded environment, until a piece of Okonkwo’s gun hits Ezedue’s 16 year old son, which burns the sound and creates tension! There are two kind of commitments, female and male. He had committed the female ”Ochu”, because of it being inadvertent.
This is first climax of the story, which also made me look back at the title “Things fall apart. Things did really fall apart, considering Okonkwo had to leave after his inadvertent female crime “Ochu”. This part of the story is mostly about the meaning of each action that happened next and the morals/beliefs. Okonkwo having to leave to Mbanta (motherland) with his house burnt down for belief purposes (cleansing the village) shows physical pain as well as mental pain in Okonkwo, counting everyday until he will be able to come back from his 7 years of exile.
Log 4 :
The external conflict would be the conflict between the village and the White missionary with their new religion (Christianity). An example would be the scene in which Okonkwo raises his matchet and kills one of the White missionaries messengers even though he knew that Umuofia would never go to war. After he killed the messenger, he even heard voices on why he did what he did. Okonkwo saw Christianity as a sign of weakness in Umuofia, thus hanging himself.
One internal problem would be the scene after Ikemefuna's death, where Okonkwo fights to forget about Ikemefuna, but the more he fights the more he thinks of Ikemefuna. Ikemefuna’s death hit Okonkwo so hard that he could not eat or sleep for two days.
Another example would be Okonkwo wishing for Ezinma to have been a boy instead, because of her strength and personality. “If only she was a boy, sigh”.
Log 5 :
The book did not end the way I wanted it to or the way I expected it to. I wanted the book to end with Okonkwo fighting and winning over the White missionary with the help of Obierika, his motherland and even Ezinma. They all had the strength/ability to win over their land, but Okonkwo decided to hang himself instead and give up. That was very unexpected considering how Okonkwo’s fear against weakness is so repeated throughout the book and so Okonkwo should not have given up. In a way or another unexpected endings are interesting, but this time it felt like the book ended in the middle of the story and was simply just not finished!
Anger ran through me while I read the last page of which Obierika and the clansmen find Okonkwo dead. How could Okonkwo do this when he also knew that his action would be an abomination to the earth goddess? Even though he was a strong believer to his religion, he still decided to leave the world in this way. I thought he would do whatever he can to not repeat the same mistake he did last time with the accidental gun shot which made him lose respect. He had Ezinma, his wives and his strong beliefs to live for but he gave it all up by the one thing he fought against his whole life, weakness. A man with a title was Okonkwo and he was determined to die the same, but instead died as an abomination.