Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Whenever Ezeulu considered the immensity of his power over the year and the crops and, therefore, over the people he wondered if it was real. It was true he named the day for the feast of the Pumpkin Leave and for the New Yam feast; but he did not choose it. He was merely a watchman. His power was no more than the power of a child over a goat that was said to be his. As long as the goat was alive it could be his; he would find it food and take are of it. But the day it was slaughtered he would know soon enough who the real owner was. No! the Chief Priest of Ulu was more than that, must be more than that. If he should refuse to name the day there would be no festival – no planting and no reaping. But could he refuse? No Chief Priest had ever refused. So it could not be done. He would not dare.
What kind of power was it if it would never be used? Better to say that it was not there, that it was no more than the power in the anus of the proud dog who sought to put out a furnace with his puny fart… (1.24; 27)
Ezeulu goes back and forth in his mind, wondering if he has real power or only perceived power. Does power rest in him, the chief priest of the deity Ulu, or does power rest in Ulu, the god itself? Ezeulu is not sure, but he knows he would never dare test it.
Ezeulu rose from his goatskin and moved to the household shrine on a flat board behind the central dwarf wall at the entrance. His ikenga, about as tall as a man's forearm, its animal horn as long as the rest of its human body, jostled with faceless okposi of the ancestors black with the blood of sacrifice, and his short personal staff of ofo. Nwafo's eyes picked out the special okposi which belonged to him. It had been carved for him because of the convulsions he used to have at night. They told him to call it Namesake, and he did. Gradually the convulsions had left him. (1.54)
There was real power in the old gods, and in the ways of the ancestors. Nwafo, Ezeulu's favorite son and likely the next chief priest of Ulu, knows the healing power of Ulu.
"We have no quarrel with Ulu. He is still our protector, even though we no longer fear Abame warriors at night. But I will not see with these eyes of mine his priest making himself lord over us. My father told me many things, but he did not tell me that Ezeulu was king in Umuaro. Who is he, anyway? Does anybody here enter this compound through the man's gate? If Umuaro decided to have a king we know where he would come from. Since when did Umuachala become head of the six villages? We all know that it was jealousy among the big villages that made them give the priesthood to the weakest. We shall fight for our farmland and for the contempt Okperi has poured on us. Let us not listen to anyone trying to frighten us with the name of Ulu. If a man says yes his chi also says yes. And we have all heard how the people of Aninta dealt with their deity when he failed them. Did they not carry him to the boundary between them and their neighbours and set fire on him? I salute you." (2.101)
Nwaka separates the god, Ulu, from the god's chief priest; in so doing, he argues that Ezeulu is power hungry. In this speech, Nwaka reminds Ezeulu to know his place. Ezeulu's village, Umuachala, has always been the weakest of the six villages, and he will never be king. If his deity doesn't support them in their quest for revenge, they will get rid of it.