Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
It is the occasion of the New Yam Festival, held in honor of the earth deity Ani. All of one’s relatives are invited, and much food is prepared. Because he is a man of action, Okonkwo is always uncomfortable at such feasts. He prefers to be working in his fields.
His anger finds an outlet when he sees that one of his wives, Ekwefi, has cut some leaves from his banana tree. He beats her and decides to go hunting. She murmurs against his hunting skills, and he tries to shoot her with his gun. True to form, he misses his target; Okonkwo is a hand-to-hand fighter, not a hunter.
The chapter continues with a description of the preparation of the meals by Okonkwo’s wives. One of the daughters breaks her water pot after trying to balance it on her head like the adults.
Okonkwo’s daughters converse with him while he eats the dishes his wives have prepared for him. It is a scene that reflects the very reality of native life in the village. The realistic depiction of characters and actions is, of course, what makes the novel so appealing; it presents an exotic setting in a way that is realistic yet relatable to outsiders. Okonkwo appears not so much as a hero but as a human with both good qualities and bad. The drums beat in the distance, announcing the coming wrestling match. The drums fill Okonkwo with intense, passionate desire.
The matches begin with boys of 15 or 16 years of age. One of the boys distinguishes himself for his lightning-like speed. Okonkwo is thrilled to the point of leaping up.
The drummers must pause from their activity. The author describes them as being possessed by the spirit of the drums. The scene is alive with pulsating beats.
The priestess of the Oracle is at the match. Her name is Chielo. She speaks to Okonkwo’s wife, Ekwefi, whom he nearly killed with a gun. The two women are very close. In ordinary life, Chielo is nothing like the person she is while fulfilling her role as priestess. Chielo is fond...Sign up to continue reading Chapter 5 to Chapter 8 >