Arrow of God
by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God Pride Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Well, I have now decided to appoint him Paramount Chief for Umuaro. I've gone through the records of the case again and found that the man's title is Eze Ulu. The prefix eze in Ibo means king. So the man is a kind of priest-king."
"That means, I suppose," said Clarke, "that the new appointment would not altogether be strange to him."
"Exactly. Although I must say that I have never found the Ibo man backward in acquiring new airs of authority. Take this libertine we made Chief here. He now calls himself His Highness Obi Ikedi the First of Okperi. The only title I haven't yet heard him use is Fidei Defensor."
Clarke opened his mouth to say that the love of title was a universal human failing but thought better of it. (10.47-50)
Winterbottom mentions the "natives'" love for title and authority, and how ridiculous they look as a result. Clarke recognizes that this is a failing of all men, no matter the culture, but he knows he's not in a position to point this fact out.
"Every man has his own way of ruling his household," he said at last. "What I do myself if I need something like that is to cal one of my wives and say to her: I need such and such a thing for a sacrifice, go and get it for me. I know I can take it but I ask her to go and bring it herself. I never forget what my father told his friend when I was a boy. He said: In our custom a man is not expected to go down on his knees and knock his forehead on the ground to his wife to ask her forgiveness or beg a favour. But, a wise man knows that between him and his wife there may arise the need for him to say to her in secret: "I beg you." When such a thing happens nobody else must know it, and that woman if she has any sense will never boast about it or even open her mouth and speak of it. If she does it the earth on which the man brought himself low will destroy her entirely." (14.109)
Ezeulu mentions that a wise man is humble; he does not let pride influence his behavior. He asks his wife, treating her with respect, so that when the time comes when he must beg her for something, she will not humiliate him but will respect the need for privacy and for her to maintain his dignity in public.
From the beginning Mr. Goodcountry had taken exception to Unachukwu's know-all airs which the last catechist, Mr. Molokwu, had done his best to curb. Goodcountry had seen elsewhere how easy it was for a half-educated and half-converted Christian to mislead a whole congregation when the pastor or catechist was weak; so he wanted to establish his leadership from the very beginning. His intention was not originally to antagonize Unachukwu more than was necessary for making his point; after all he was a strong pillar in the church and could not be easily replaced. But Unachukwu did not give Mr. Goodcountry a chance; he challenged him openly on the question of the python and so deserved the public rebuke and humiliation he got.
Having made his point Mr. Goodcountry was prepared to forget the whole thing. He had no idea what kind of person he was dealing with. Unachukwu got a clerk in Okperi to write a petition on behalf of the priest of Idemili to the Bishop on the Niger. Although it was called a petition it was more of a threat. It warned the bishop that unless his followers in Umuaro left the royal python alone they would regret the day they ever set foot on the soil of the clan.
For this reason, but also because he did not himself approve of such excess of zeal, the bishop had written a firm letter to Goodcountry. He had also replied to Ezidemili's petition assuring him that the catechist would not interfere with the python but at the same time praying that the day would not be far when the priest and all his people would turn away from the worship of snakes and idols to the true religion. (18.114-115;117)
Mr. Goodcountry and Moses Unachukwu's battle of wills is an issue of pride. Each one wants more power than the other, and they want others to respect their authority more than they respect the authority of the other. Mr. Goodcountry doesn't like the uppity airs that Unachukwu takes, but he misjudges his adversary. In this battle of wills, Unachukwu figures out how to humiliate Mr. Goodcountry and keep some of the customs of Umuaro sacred.