Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Chapter 7 Summary
- The festival begins and it appears to be a happy occasion. Despite the hostility between the villages of Umuachala and Umunneora, the men meet as brothers on this day.
- Ugoye admires her reflection in the mirror. She would normally have been thrilled to show herself off at the festival, but this year, she is anxious because of Oduche's sin and the need for his cleansing.
- Matefi sets out for the marketplace and asks if Ugoye is ready. She says no, she'll be coming soon.
- Ugoye fetches a special pumpkin that she had set aside. Akueke peeks into her hut and complains that she's not ready yet.
- Akueke asks why Matefi was annoyed this morning. Akueke claims that she has come across many bad people but Matefi is the worst.
- The marketplace is buzzing with conversation and excitement. Nwaka's five wives arrive decked out in jewelry and velvet. There had never been such a display from one man's house.
- Obika is sitting with some of his friends in a circle, with two pots of palm wine between them. One of the men asks if his new bride has yet to come back to visit his house a second time after her first visit. Obika admits it's true.
- The first man says he knew the story couldn't be true – what woman wouldn't swoon over a handsome fellow like Obika?
- Another man says that maybe she doesn't like the size of Obika's penis.
- Obika says she has never seen it.
- Obiozo Ezikolo begins to beat the Ikolo (a drum) to announce the arrival of the Chief Priest. People hurry to finish drinking.
- The crowd greets Ezeulu with a loud shout. He rushes to the Ikolo and tells it to speak, he will hear what it has to say. He acts out the story of the coming of Ulu.
- The short story of this tale is inserted into the narrative at this point.
- At the time of the first Coming of Ulu, the people assembled and chose Ezeulu to carry the new deity. He claimed that he was not important enough to do the job, but they said that he will be given what he needs to do the job. So he agrees and sets off on his journey, accompanied by flutists on each side. On one side, it is raining, and on the other side, it is dry. He encounters the day named Eke. Ezeulu gives him a hen's egg and he allows Ezeulu to pass. He sees a smoking thicket and two men wrestling. It is the day named Oye. Ezeulu gives him a white rooster and Oye allows him to pass. He continues on and realizes his head is too heavy. That's when he sees the day named Afo. Afo says he is the "great river that cannot be salted" and Ezeulu replies that he is the "hunchback more terrible than a leper" (7.48-49). So Afo allows him to pass. Then Ezeulu feels the sun and the rain together and he meets the day called Nkwo. To the left of Nkwo, an old woman is dancing. The right is a horse and ram. He kills the horse and cleans his machete with the ram and removes the evil.
- The story comes to an end.
- Now Ezeulu is in the center of the marketplace. He strikes the metal staff on the ground and dances towards the Ikolo.
- Ugoye has pushed and shoved her way to the front. Ezeulu runs over to her and she prays to the Great Ulu to cleanse her house of defilement.
- The priest's messengers also run with him, snatching up pumpkin leaves at random. The Ikolo drum is so loud that the tension builds until finally the Chief Priest runs to his shrine, his messengers following. Then the drum reaches its final fevered pitch and the tension begins to abate with the drumming.
- The women of Umunneora begin to run and stamp their feet. Soon they are stamping their feet together in unison. Then the women of the next village take their turn until the women from all six villages have danced.
- The crowd disperses into little groups. Akueke finds her sister Adeze, and Ugoye joins them. Adeze asks if it's true that Ugoye has been teaching her children to eat python.
- Ugoye gets hurt and Akueke tells Ugoye not to mind Adeze – she's worse than Ezeulu with her teasing and her thoughtless comments.
- Adeze comments that nobody could expect a father's child not to be somewhat like him. Then she tells Ugoye not to be angry. Adeze has heard the whole story and she has defended her family's honor whenever she heard the story. For example, she told one woman that putting a python in a box was preferable to the kinds of things her family does, like copulating with a goat behind the house.
- The women laugh.
- Ugoye begs Adeze to ask her father not to run so fast. Last year, he couldn't get up for days. Akueke mentions that Ezeulu used to run as fast as Obika.
- Ugoye says it is people like them that lead him astray. He is not a young man anymore.
- Akueke changes the subject and says that her husband and his people returned the other day to fetch her. Adeze insults them and Akueke pretends to be angry. Adeze asks when she is going back to join him and Akueke names the day, one market past the next.