Lesson Summary In the fifth chapter of Things Fall Apart , Okonkwo once again shows how he is different from his father Unoka; he beats and then nearly shoots his wife because of his own insecurity and anxiousness about not working during the Feast of the New Yam.
Okonkwo shamefully beats his youngest wife for her negligence in not preparing dinner. The priest demands that Okonkwo will pay a fine for breaking the peace during the sacred time known as the Week of Peace. During the New Yam Festival, Okonkwo becomes angry when he has nothing to do.
During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo notices that his youngest wife , Ojiugo, has left her hut to have her hair braided without having cooked dinner. He beats her for her negligence, shamefully breaking the peace of the sacred week in a transgression known as nso-ani.
The villagers are shocked when Okonkwo beats his wife during the Week of Peace because these days mark a sacred time during which the villagers of Umuofia honor the earth goddess and secure her protection and blessings for the year.
In achieving success, fame, and power, Okonkwo habitually resorts to and comes to rely on thoughtless violence. Without regard for consequences, Okonkwo acts – beats his son, repudiates his father, kills Ikemefuna , butchers the messenger. He becomes the epitome of violent action and as such ultimately destroys himself.
Okonkwo’s second wife, once the village beauty. Ekwefi ran away from her first husband to live with Okonkwo. Ezinma is her only surviving child, her other nine having died in infancy, and Ekwefi constantly fears that she will lose Ezinma as well. Ekwefi is good friends with Chielo, the priestess of the goddess Agbala.
Okonkwo’s gun accidentally goes off and kills Ezeudu’s sixteen-year-old son. Killing a clansman is a crime against the earth goddess, so Okonkwo must atone by taking his family into exile for seven years. Okonkwo gathers his most valuable belongings and takes his family to his mother’s natal village, Mbanta.
Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna because he doesn’t want to appear weak in front of his fellow clansmen. Ogbuefi Ezeudu , a village elder, informs Okonkwo that the Oracle has decreed that Ikemefuna must be killed but that Okonkwo should not be the one to kill him, since Ikemefuna regards Okonkwo as a father .
By seeing them as his subjects, Okonkwo can justify his brutal behavior against them. He can beat his wives without guilt. He can threaten Ekwefi with a gun when she talks back. He can rebuke Nwoye for listening to old wives’ tales.
2. Who was Okonkwo’s favorite child, and what did he often say about the child? His favorite child was Ezinma , daughter of Ekwefi. He often said it was a shame she wasn’t a boy.
Obiageli , Nwoye’s sister, is crying because she broke her water pot.
When his second wife , Ekwefi, admits to taking the leaves, Okonkwo beats her severely to release his pent-up anger. Then he sends for his rusty gun to go hunting — Okonkwo is not a hunter nor is he skilled with a gun.
What good qualities does Unoka have, that his son fails to appreciate? Okonkwo has no patience with his father, Unoka, because his father is lazy. The goods qualities of Unoka that Okonkwo fails to recognize are Unoka was a talented musician and enjoys the company of others.
Things Fall Apart
|Obanje children were discouraged from returning by||Mutilation|
|Nwoye shows that he is a sensitive boy by||Enjoying the stories his mother tells over Okonkwo’s war stories|
|A man’s chi is||His personal god or spirit|
|What food stood for manliness and was a sign of prosperity||Yams|
” Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.”