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Arrow of God

Arrow of God

by Chinua Achebe

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Umuaro goes to war with Okperi over land. Captain Winterbottom steps in and rules in favor of Okperi. Umuaro loses all its guns and the land. Because Ezeulu cooperates with Winterbottom, Umuaro blames Ezeulu for their loss, even though Ezeulu had originally warned against the war. Nwaka indicates that Ulu is an inferior god; he reminds Ulu that if he doesn't please the people, they may get rid of him and make a new god.

Act II

Challenged by the catechist to show support for Christianity and to cast off the myths of the old religion, Oduche imprisons the sacred python in a box. The ensuing hubbub involves Oduche's father, (Ezeulu,) and Ezidemili, the chief priest of Idemili. (Idemili is the god who owns the sacred python.) Ezeulu fails to satisfy Ezidemili's demands to purify his house, and the animosity between the two villages grows. Insults are flung back and forth, and people take sides.

Act III

Captain Winterbottom decides to make Ezeulu his new warrant chief. He sends messengers to fetch Ezeulu, who refuses to go at first. Ezeulu then changes his mind the next day when Umuaro urges him to go. Meanwhile, Winterbottom gets sick and Clarke takes charge while Winterbottom is hospitalized. Ezeulu refuses the position when Clarke offers it, and Clarke claps him in jail.

Ezeulu has a vision that allows him to recognize that his real battle was with his people. When he's set free from prison, he hopes to show the people how dependent they are on him. He hopes to show them they must treat him with more respect. When Ezeulu returns home, he refuses to call the Feast of the New Yam. Elders come to find out why, and Ezeulu explains that he was detained so long, he was unable to eat the sacred yams. He has three left – and he can only eat one each new moon. The people panic, realizing they'll starve, because they can't harvest until Ezeulu calls for the Feast. Ezeulu is stubborn and insists he must follow the rules. The catechist at the church offers protection from the Christian god if people offer their new yam sacrifice to the church. When Ezeulu's son Obika dies suddenly after performing a funeral ritual, the people decide that Ulu is punishing his stubborn and proud priest. Many of the yams that year are harvested and planted in the name of Christianity.

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