Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Pride Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Captain T.K. Winterbottom stared at the memorandum before him with irritation and a certain amount of contempt. It came from the Lieutenant-Governor through the Resident through the Senior District Officer to him, the last two adding each his own comment before passing the buck down the line. Captain Winterbottom was particularly angry at the tone of the Senior District Officer's minute. It as virtually a reprimand for what he was pleased to describe as Winterbottom's stonewalling on the issue of the appointment of Paramount Chiefs. Perhaps if this minute had been written by any other person Captain Winterbottom would not have minded so much; but Watkinson had been his junior by three years and had been promoted over him.
"Any fool can be promoted," Winterbottom always told himself and his assistant, "provided he does nothing but try. Those of us who have a job to do have no time to try." (5.1-2)
Winterbottom's pride is hurt by the fact that he was passed up for promotion. He used to hold the superior position over the very man who is now reprimanding him.
"The white man thinks we are foolish; so we shall ask him one question. This was the question I had wanted to ask him this morning but he would not listen. We have a saying that a man may refuse to do what is asked of him but he may not refuse to be asked, but it seems the white man does not have that kind of saying where he comes from. Anyhow the question which we shall beg Unachukwu to ask him is why we are not paid for working on his road. I have heard that throughout Olu and Igbo, wherever people do this kind of work the white man pays them. Why should our own be different?" [Ukpaka]
"The message is not complete," said Nwoye Udora. "It is not enough to ask him why we are not paid. He knows why and we know why. He knows that in Okperi those who do this kind of work are paid. Therefore the question you should ask him is this: Others are paid for this work; why are we not paid? Or is our own different? It is important to ask whether our own is different."
This was agreed and the meeting broke up.
"Your words were very good," someone said to Nwoye Udora as they left the market place. "perhaps the white man will tell us whether we killed his father or his mother." (8.74, 77-79)
The pride of the men of Umuaro is hurt by the fact that they are being forced to labor without payment, while the men of the nearby region, Okperi (their enemy), are paid. They wonder why they are treated so disrespectfully. But the final question suggests that they also wonder if the white man has a legitimate reason. Is this an act of revenge?
"He's been badly treated there too, I'm told," said Wright. "Actually I wasn't thinking of that at all. I was thinking of his domestic life. Oh yes. You see during the war while the poor man was fighting the Germans in the Cameroons some smart fellow walked away with his wife at home."
"Really? I hadn't heard about that."
"Yes. I'm told he was very badly shaken by it. I sometimes think it was this personal loss during the war that's made him cling to this ridiculous Captain business."
"Quite possibly. He's the kind of person, isn't he, who would take the desertion of his wife very badly," said Clarke. (10.20-23)
The two men, Clarke and Wright, gossip about Captain Winterbottom in order to diminish his stature and to make themselves feel more important. They suggest that his pride in his title, as Captain, has to do with the fact that he was cuckolded (i.e., that his wife cheated on him) – which they consider the most humiliating thing a man can endure.