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He [Okonkwo] had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists. (1.3)
Okonkwo has no talent with words; in fact, they are something of a handicap to him. He stammers when he speaks, compromising his ability to express himself well in language, and loses his capacity to talk completely when angered. Fighting, to him, is a good substitute for words.
He [Unoka] always said that whenever he saw a dead man’s mouth he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one’s lifetime. (1.4)
This proverb is a formal spoken account of a moral put into words: eat the food available to you and you won’t starve.
He [Unoka] was very good on his flute, and his happiest moments were the two or three moons after the harvest when the village musicians brought down their instruments, hung about the fireplace. Unoka would play with them, his face beaming with blessedness and peace. Sometimes another village would ask Unoka’s band and their dancing egwugwu to come and stay with them and teach them their tunes. They would go to such hosts for as long as three or four markets, making music and feasting. Unoka loved the good fare and the good fellowship…(1.5)
Unoka finds himself more able to express his happiness in music than words. Music, to him, is far more expressive and fun than speaking or trying to justify his life with words. Music is his way of creating “good fellowship” with others when he otherwise might be laughed off.