Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart Chapter Fifteen Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
“There is no story that is not true,” said Uchendu. (15.30)
Uchendu recognizes that all stories – however fantastic – have some grounding in real-life events or truth.
[Uchendu about the men of Abame who killed the silent white men and then were wiped out other white men]: “Never kill a man who says nothing. Those men of Abame were fools. What did they know about the man?” He ground his teeth again and told a story to illustrate his point. ‘Mother Kite once sent her daughter to bring food. She went, and brought back a duckling. ‘You have done very well,’ said Mother Kite to her daughter, ‘but tell me, what did the mother of this duckling say when you swooped and carried its child away?’ ‘It said nothing,’ replied the young kite. ‘It just walked away.’ ‘You must return the duckling,’ said Mother Kite. ‘There is something ominous behind the silence.’ And so Daughter Kite returned the duckling and took a chick instead. ‘What did the mother of this chick do?’ asked the old kite. ‘It cried and raved and cursed me,’ said the young kite. ‘Then we can eat the chick,’ said her mother. ‘There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts.’ Those men of Abame were fools.” (15.27)
There is something ominous about a man who is silent. Uchendu associates danger and even death with a silent man. Silence, especially in the face of death, indicates something fundamentally wrong with the individual’s humanity.
“What did the white man say before they killed him?” asked Uchendu.
“He said nothing,” answered one of Obierika’s companions.
“He said something, only they did not understand him,” said Obierika. “He seemed to speak through his nose.” (15.20-22)
The Umuofia speak a different language than the white men and neither side really tries to understand the other. Not understanding is akin to saying “nothing,” as Obierika’s friend points out. Obierika is more compassionate towards the foreigner. He realizes that he said something but the white man could not understand it.