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Arrow of God

Arrow of God


by Chinua Achebe

Arrow of God Duty Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

The other man, Wright, did not really belong to the station. He was a Public Works Department man supervising the new road to Umuaro. Captain Winterbottom had already had cause to talk to him seriously about this behaviour especially with native women. It was absolutely imperative, he told him, that every European in Nigeria, particularly those in such a lonely outpost as Okperi, should not lower themselves in the eyes of the natives. In such a place the District Officer was something of a school prefect, and Captain Winterbottom was determined to do his duty. He would go as far as barring Wright from the club unless he showed a marked change. (3.15)

The British had a strong sense of duty that carried over into their colonial pursuits. Though Winterbottom recognizes that it made them not altogether likeable, we see him decide that it's absolutely necessary.

Quote #2

[Tony Clarke] was now reading the final chapter of The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger, by George Allen, which Captain Winterbottom had lent him. From time to time he glanced at his gold watch, a present from his father when he left home for service in Nigeria or, as George Allen would have said, to answer the call. He had now had the book for over a fortnight and must finish and take it back this evening. One of the ways in which the tropics were affecting him was the speed of his reading, although in its own right the book was also pretty dull; much too smug for his taste. But he was now finding the last few paragraphs quite stirring. The chapter was headed THE CALL:

For those seeking but a comfortable living and a quiet occupation Nigeria is closed and will be closed until the earth has lost some of its deadly fertility and until the people live under something like sanitary conditions. But for those in search of a strenuous life, for those who can deal with men as others deal with material, who can grasp great situations, coax events, shape destinies and ride on the crest of the wave of time Nigeria is holding out her hands. For the men who in India have made the Briton the law-maker, the organizer, the engineer of the world this new, old land has great rewards and honorable work. I know we can find the men. Our mothers do not draw us with nervous grip back to the fireside of boyhood, back into the home circle, back to the purposeless sports of middle life; it is our greatest pride that they do – albeit tearfully – send us fearless and erect, to lead the backward races into line. "Surely we are the people!" Shall it be the Little Englander for whom the Norman fought the Saxon on his field? Was it for him the archers bled at Crecy and Poitiers, or Cromwell drilled his men? Is it only for the desk our youngsters read of Drake and Frobisher, of Nelson, Clive and men like Mungo Park? Is it for the counting-house they learn of Carthage, Greece and Rome? No, no; a thousand times no! The British race will take its place, the British blood will tell. Son after son will leave the Mersey, strong in the will of his parents today, stronger in the deed of his fathers in the past, braving the climate, taking the risks, playing his best in the game of life.

"That's rather good," said Mr. Clarke, and glanced at his watch again.


This passage calls on various British explorers and war heroes to stir up patriotism in the heart of British men in order to call them to do their duty by serving in the colonial administration. It reminds Tony Clarke of why he came to Africa in the first place.

Quote #3

It was therefore a very irate Ezeulu to whom Edogo told his story of what he had heard at the Nkwo market place. When he finished his father asked him curtly:

"And what did you do when you heard that?"

"What should I have done?" Edogo was surprised and a little angry at his father's tone.

"Don't you hear him?" asked Ezeulu of no one. "My first son, somebody says to your hearing that your father has committed an abomination, and you ask me what you should have done. When I was your age I would have known what to do. I would have come out and broken the man's head instead of hiding in the spirit-house."

Edogo was now really angry but he controlled his tongue. "When you were my age your father did not send one of his sons to worship the white man's god." (4.101-105)

Ezeulu suggests that Edogo's duty to his family and father was to defend him, no matter what. Edogo says times have changed and Ezeulu is doing things that have never been done – thus he isn't sure what his duty is anymore.

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