Things Fall Apart Precis Chapter 1-13
Okonkwo is the wealthy and respected warrior of the Umuofia clan. He defeated Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling match and brought honor to his village. Amalinze was undefeated for 7 years, so the win caused some attention towards Okonkwo. The thing was that Okonkwo’s father Unoka, was the total opposite. Unoka feared the sight of blood; however he was a skilled flute player, and had a love for language.
The town crier rings the ogene and asks for all of the clansmen to gather in the market in the morning. At the gathering Ogbuefi Ezeugo announces that someone from the village of Mbaino murdered the wife of an Umuofia tribesman. Everyone was as mad as can be. So Okonkwo travels to Mbaino and delivers a message saying that they must hand over to Umuofia a virgin, and a young man. If Mbaino doesn’t cooperate, the two villages must go at war. It sounds good for Umuofia, knowing that they have a good reputation for its skill in war and magic. Mbaino later agrees to Umuofia’s terms and hands over what they want. Since Umuofia didn’t know what to do with the fifteen year old boy, so they handed him to Okonkwo. Okonkwo has three wives and eight children, an obi (a hut) and can support all of them. Okonkwo fears weakness, which he associates with his father and women. He also constantly beats and nags his son, Nwoye because he finds him lazy.
Okonkwo talks about his childhood, and on how he was never able to have a successful harvest. Unoka, his father had bad fortune and died of an illness which caused swelling of the limbs and stomach. Ani the earth goddess didn’t find that death acceptable so therefore his body could not be buried and was sent to the Evil Forest to rot, making Okonkwo more ashamed. People donated many seeds to Okonkwo when he was preparing his first farm in yams, but the growing season later turned into a disaster as well as for other farmers in the village. The village suffered first a big drought, then next endless rain and floods.
The clan decides that Ikemefuna will stay with Okonkwo. Ikemefuna is homesick and wants to go back at first, but Nwoye’s mother treats Ikemefuna like her own, and gets popular with Okonkwo’s kids. Ikemefuna knows many stories the children didn’t know, and has a talent for making flutes out of bamboo sticks, and setting traps for bush rodents. Ikemefuna becomes comfortable enough to call Okonkwo “father.” Okonkwo also beats his youngest wife, because she got her hair braided without cooking. The priest demands Okonkwo to pay a fine and sacrifice a nanny goat and a hen for his actions. It was the Week of Peace when that happened and after that villagers began to clear the land in preparation for planting their farms. Nwoye and Ikemefuna help Oknonkwo with the deeds but are criticized in doing so.
Before the harvest, the village holds the Feast of the New Yam to give thanks to the earth goddess (Ani). All the old yams left over from the old year must be thrown away. Okonkwo invites his wife’s relatives. While everyone seems happy about the coming festival, Okonkwo knows he will get tired of it and would rather stay on his farm. Ekwefi, Okonwo’s second wife admits to taking some leaves from his banana tree, so Okonkwo beats her also tries to shoot her but misses.
Second day of the festival and everyone gathers at the village playing field to watch the wrestling match between men of the village and neighboring one. The wrestling ends with a rematch between Ikezue and Okafo, just when people thought that it was going to be another draw a second year in a row, Okafo throws him and wins. Then the villagers sing a song of praise to Okafo.
Nwoye and Ikemefuna spend all their time together like brothers. During the evenings, they both sit next to Okonkwo in his hut and listen to stories of violence and bloodshed. Nwoye still likes his mother’s stories, but he acts like he doesn’t like them, so it can show Okonkwo he’s masculine. Ogbuefi Ezedu, the oldest man in the village, needs to have a talk with Okonkwo. He needs to speak to Okonkwo privately. Ogbuefi Ezeudu talks about how Ikemefuna needs to be killed as part of retribution to the killing of a woman three years back in Mbaino. Ogbuefi tells Okonkwo not to kill Ikemefuna, since the boy calls him father, but eventually Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna with his machete to make him not appear to be weak.
Okonkwo now goes into depression mode. He feels pretty weak, and can’t really sleep or eat. Okonkwo doesn’t eat anything for two days and just drinks palm wine. Nwoye is now scared of his dad, because of the killing and now tries to avoid him. Okonkwo asks Ekwefi to make him a dish, and does it in his favorite way and has Ezinma bring the food to him. Okonkwo repeatedly wishes that Ezinma was a boy, because she has “the right spirit.” Okonkwo wants some work to distract himself, but he’s out of luck because the down farming season. When Okonkwo meets his best friend Obierika, he goes on and on about Nwoye being soft and calls him out for not coming with him to kill Ikemefuna. Then all of a sudden, news comes in saying there has been a death of the oldest man in a neighboring village, shortly after his wife dies. Okonkwo then sits with Obierika to bargain his daughter’s brideprice with the family of her suitor.
Okonkwo can finally sleep well again, and feeling like his old self. Just as he’s feeling good, he is woken up in the morning to Ekwefi pounding his door, and trying to tell him that Ezinma is dying. Okonkwo then runs immediately to Ekwefi’s hut. Ekwefi’s relationship between Ezinma is very close because that’s her only child, while her nine other children died in infancy. Okonkwo leaves and returns to gather herbs to heal his little daughter. After he’s done boiling the herbs, he forces Ezinma and forces her to sit over the pot of medicine covered by a blanket. Though she complains and struggles to be let loose, she is held down. When Okonkwo is done and releases her, she’s drenched with sweat and falls asleep.
The village holds an interesting ceremony which draws the attention of a large crowd. The clan’s ancestral spirits, which are known as egwugwu, emerge from a secret house that no woman whatsoever is allowed to step in. The egwugwu take the form of masked men, but everyone suspects that Okonkwo is one of them. This makes the women and children fearful.
Ezinma survived her fever, and she and Ekwefi take turns telling each other folktales. Then Chielo in her role as priestess informs Ekwefi that Agbala, Oracle of Hills and Caves wishes to see Ezinma.
After Chielo took Ezinma away, Okonkwo was not able to sleep. He made several trips to the cave before he finallyfound and joined Ekwefi waiting outside the cave. When Chielo came out of Agbala’s cave, she returned her to the hut safely sound asleep. The following day the village celebrates on the marriage of the daughter of Obierika.
Drums and cannons sound for the death of the oldest man in the village, Ezedu. His funeral was a big deal because he was one of the head honchos of the Umuofia. But during all this an accident occurred. Ezedu’s sixteen year old son has been shot and falls dead. It was Okonkwo who did it and he had to leave the village for 7 years.