Western Influence in Family and Arrow of God

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Travis Patno
History 422
Essay 2

Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God and Pa Chin’s Family both tell the story of two very different communities dominated by the presence of western influence. The nature of traditional life and customs in the Nigerian village of Umuaro differ greatly from those of the western world. The Igbo people worship a very different system of beliefs than those of which other cultures are familiar with. They pray to several gods, including Ulu and Idemili, and believe animals, such as the royal python, to be sacred. The people of Umuaro conduct celebrations in relation to the harvest, including the Festival of Pumpkin Leaves and the Festival of the New Yam. According to the Igbo, yams are the most important crop and also represent qualities of manhood. Yams are heavily relied upon as a major food source of these people. In Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God, Oduche, Ezeulu’s son, is heavily attracted to the Christian religion. This is especially shown to be true when he attempts to deliver upon a request to kill the sacred python. Oduche’s attraction to Christianity is due to him being sent to the Christian church upon request. The python is one of the most sacred symbols of the traditional religion of Umuaro. Although they have embraced Christianity, all others refuse due to the religious devastation of such a sacrilegious act. Oduche does not kill the royal python, but instead captures it in a box. “Ezeulu waited for it to calm down a little, bent down and carried the box outside” (Achebe 44). Upon discovering what Oduche has done, Ezuelu is shocked that his son could commit such an abomination unto the Igbo religion. “Before midday the story had reached the ears of Ezidemili whose deity, Idemili, owned the royal python” (Achebe 45). After learning of this, Ezidemili demands Ezuelu to purify his household for the actions of Oduche.
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