Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Mr. Clarke had been desperately searching for a new subject. Then luckily he lit on a collection of quaint-looking guns arranged like trophies near the low window of the living-room. "Are they native guns?" He had stumbled on a redeeming theme.
Captain Winterbottom was transformed.
"Those guns have a long and interesting history. The people of Okperi and their neighbours, Umuaro, are great enemies. Or they were before I came into the story. A big savage war had broken out between them over a piece of land. This feud was made worse by the fact that Okperi welcomed missionaries and government while Umuaro, on the other hand, has remained backward. It was only in the last four or five years that any kind of impression has been made there. I think I can say with all modesty that this change came about after I had gathered and publicly destroyed all firearms in the place except, of course, this collection here. You will be going there frequently on tour. If you hear anyone talking about Otiji-Egbe, you know they are talking about me. Otiji-Egbe means Breaker of Guns. I am even told that all children born in that year belong to a new age-grade of the Breaking of Guns." (3.55-57)
Captain Winterbottom's power is symbolized in the guns he carried away from the war between Okperi and Umuaro. Winterbottom effectively ended the war by breaking and burning the guns, and settling the question of the land dispute between the neighboring regions. By revealing his nickname, Winterbottom reveals his role as peacemaker, settling the disputes of subjects. But this also symbolizes his manhood, as we see in his boast that the children of that year have also been named for him.
Nwafo came back to the obi and asked his father whether he knew what the bell [of the Christian church] was saying. Ezeulu shook his head.
"It is saying: Leave your yam, leaving your cocoyam and come to church. That is what Oduche says."
"Yes," said Ezeulu thoughtfully. "It tells them to leave their yam and their cocoyam, does it? Then it is singing the song of extermination." (4.29-31)
The yam and cocoyam are the staple foods of the Igbo peoples. If the church bell is telling people to leave it, then it is telling them to leave their staple food source. In other words, the church bell is requesting that they leave behind their culture and way of life. This is what Ezeulu recognizes when he says that it is singing the "song of extermination" – death to the Igbo way of life.
The struggling inside the box was as fierce as ever. For a brief moment Ezeulu wondered whether the wisest thing was not to leave the box there until its owner returned. But what would it mean? That he, Ezeulu, was afraid of whatever power his son had imprisoned in a box. Such a story must never be told of the priest of Ulu. (4.43)
It's a small scene, but an epic battle, as Ezeulu confronts the shaking box, in which his son has imprisoned the royal python. Ezeulu realizes that this is a contest between the power his son has from acquire the Christian church, and the power he holds as chief priest of Ulu. Ezeulu must confront this unknown power so he can be proven victorious.