Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart Chapter Four Quotes
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Okonkwo did as the priest said. He also took with him a pot of palm-wine. Inwardly, he was repentant. But he was not the man to go about telling his neighbors that he was in error. And so people said he had no respect for the gods of the clan. His enemies said his good fortune had gone to his head. They called him the little bird nza who so far forgot himself after a heavy meal that he challenged his chi. (4.23)
Okonkwo is a man of actions, not words. But his neighbors aren’t mind readers and mostly understand emotions only when people verbally convey them. As a result of his tight-lipped nature, Okonkwo’s neighbors easily misread his character and his reputation harmed.
Yam, the king of crops, was a very exacting king. For three or four moons it demanded hard work and constant attention from cock-crow till the chickens went back to roost. The young tendrils were protected from earth-heat with rings of sisal leaves. As the rains became heavier the women planted maize, melons and beans between yam mounds. The yams were then staked, first with little sticks and later with tall and big tree branches. The women weeded the farm three times at definite periods in the life of the yams, neither early not late.
And now the rains had really come, so heavy and persistent that even the village rain-maker no longer claimed to be able to intervene. He could not stop the rain now, just as he would not attempt to start it in the heart of the dry season, without serious danger to his own health. The personal dynamism required to counter the forces of these extremes of weather would be far too great for the human frame.
And so nature was not interfered with in the middle of the rainy season. Sometimes it poured down in such thick sheets of water that earth and sky seemed merged in one gray wetness. It was then uncertain whether the low rumbling of Amadiora’s thunder came from above or below. At such times, in each of the countless thatched huts of Umuofia, children sat around their mother’s cooking fire telling stories, or with their father in his obi warming themselves from a log fire, roasting and eating maize. It was a brief resting period between the exacting and arduous planting season and the equally exacting but light-hearted month of harvests. (4.35-37)
Yams require a good deal of attention to grow successfully. But the planting season is not all hard work and no play; the advent of the rainy season brings lots of eating, storytelling, and enjoyment of family company indoors. Rain is so crucial to their survival that the Umuofia associate it with the godly world.
Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye, who was two years younger, because quite inseparable from him [Ikemefuna] because he seemed to know everything. He could fashion out flutes from bamboo stems and even from the elephant grass. He knew the names of all the birds and could set clever traps for the little bush rodents. And he knew which tress made the strongest bows. (4.6)
Ikemefuna is familiar with all the blessings of the earth, knowledgeable about how to make delightful crafts from all sorts of raw foliage and also how to find food in the wild. By tying Ikemefuna to the earth, Achebe clearly depicts Okonkwo’s murder of Ikemefuna as a direct crime against the earth.