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Arrow of God

Arrow of God

by Chinua Achebe

Arrow of God Chapter 5 Summary

  • Captain Winterbottom is angry to receive a memorandum suggesting he's delaying naming the Paramount Chiefs. The memorandum is from the Senior District Officer, a man who used to be Winterbottom's junior, but who was promoted over him.
  • He smokes, paces, reads the memorandum again, which suggests that government by white men is a mistake.
  • Winterbottom reflects on the misguided ideology behind those words. He thinks that if the bureaucrats who create such policies actually came to Africa, they would see the need for white man rule.
  • Mr. Clarke walks in to say he's off to tour the district. Winterbottom asks Clarke to find out about Wright and the new road. Winterbottom has heard about whippings, and from what he knows about Wright, he wouldn't be surprised to find out that the stories are true.
  • When Clarke leaves, Winterbottom returns to the memo in a calmer state of mind. He realizes that he knows better than the Lt.-Governor what needs to be done, but he doesn't have the authority.
  • Just three years ago, they had insisted on appointing a Warrant Chief for Okperi, so he chose James Ikedi. But soon James Ikedi had shown a real lust for power and was abusing his authority. Winterbottom suspended him for six months. But three months later, the Senior Resident came back from leave and reinstated him, and the abuses began again.
  • At that time, there was a plan in place for a system of roads and drainages. Winterbottom had approved the plans himself and had tried to assure that there would be as little disruption of people's homes as possible.
  • But the overseer demanded bribes from the people in order to prevent the road from going near their homes; the chiefs said the overseer was carrying out the order of the white man. Of course, Ikedi got a good chunk of money from this man.
  • Though Winterbottom could excuse the overseer, who wasn't from Okperi, he couldn't excuse Ikedi. Why would you cheat your own people, your own blood?
  • But he wasn't able to prosecute Ikedi due to a lack of evidence.
  • Winterbottom waits one more day, thinking about the memo, but in the morning realizes he can do nothing to stop the policy. This time, he wouldn't consider the kind of men he had put in charge in the past – mission educated, intelligent.
  • No, he would go with a man who had told him the truth in the past: the Chief Priest of Ulu, Ezeulu. He hopes that Ezeulu is still alive, since he hasn't seen him in two years.

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