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Arrow of God

Arrow of God

by Chinua Achebe

Duty Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

This short interruption made it possible for Captain Winterbottom to return to the Lieutenant Governor's memorandum with diminished anger. Instead he now felt tired and resigned. The great tragedy of British colonial administration was that what h on the spot who knew his African and knew what he was talking about found himself being constantly overruled by starry-eyed fellows at headquarters.

Three years ago they had put pressure on Captain Winterbottom to appoint a Warrant Chief for Okperi against his better judgement. After a long palaver he had chosen one James Ikedi, an intelligent fellow who had been among the very first people to receive missionary education in these parts. But what had happened? Within three months of this man receiving his warrant Captain Winterbottom began to hear rumours of his high-handedness. He had set up an illegal court and a private prison. He took any woman who caught his fancy without paying the customary bride-rice. Captain Winterbottom went into the whole business thoroughly and uncovered many more serious scandals. He decided to suspend the fellow for six months, and accordingly withdrew his warrant. But after three months the Senior Resident who had just come back from leave and had no first-hand knowledge of the matter ruled that the rascal be reinstated. And no sooner was he back in power than he organized a vast system of mass extortion. (5.11-12)

Winterbottom takes his duty to uphold British standards and civilization seriously, but finds himself constantly crossed by his superiors, who don't understand what's really going on.

Quote #5

The young man's behavior was like a heavy load on his father's head. In a few days, Ezeulu said within himself, Obika's new bride would arrive. She would have come already if her mother had not fallen sick. When she arrived what a husband she would find! A man who could not watch his hut at night because he was dead with palm wine. Where did the manhood of such a husband lie? A man who could not protect his wife if night marauders knocked at his door. A man who was roused in the morning by the women. Tufia! spat the old priest. He could not contain his disgust. (8.23)

Drinking palm wine to excess may make Obika unfit to carry out the duties required of a husband. Ezeulu hopes that his new bride will convince him to change his behavior.

Quote #6

"I do not want to be Chief Priest," he heard himself saying aloud. He looked around instinctively to see if anyone had been near enough to have heard him….A strange thought seized Edogo now. Could it be that their father had deliberately sent Oduche to the religion of the white man so as to disqualify him for the priesthood of Ulu….The priesthood would then fall on his youngest and favourite son….The priest wanted to have a hand in the choice of his successor. It was what anyone who knew Ezeulu would expect him to do. But was he not presuming too much? The choice of a priest lay with the deity. Was it likely that he would let the old priest force his hand. Although Edogo and Obika did not seem attracted to the office that would not prevent the deity from choosing either of them or even Oduche, out of spite. Edogo's thinking now became confused. If Ulu should choose him to be Chief Priest what would he do?...Would he be happy if the diviner's beads fell in his favour? He could not say. Perhaps the only sure happiness it would give him was the knowledge that his father's partiality for his younger sons had been frustrated by the deity himself. (9.8)

Edogo is not sure what he'll do if duty calls and Ulu wants to make him the chief priest. On the one hand, it has never been his desire. But on the other hand, he doesn't want his father to be able to control the decision, and he wonders if the deity will allow Ezeulu to control it either.

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