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Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

The Mother of the Spirits

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The Mother of the Spirits is seen as the mother of the egwugwu and therefore a deity worshipped by the Umuofia. In many ways, she is the personification of the Umuofia clan. The point at which one of the Christian converts, Enoch, commits the terrible crime of unmasking one of the egwugwu is a climactic moment for the Umuofia. Unmasking an egwugwu is equivalent to murdering a god. It is a point at which the Umuofia way of life has been deeply disrespected and the damage done is irreparable. The night after the unmasking, the Mother of the Spirits loudly mourns the death of her son. The narrator draws a comparison between the Mother of the Spirits and the clan: “It seemed as if the very soul of the clan wept for the great evil that was coming – its own death.” It’s also important that the Mother of the Spirits takes no action but weeping and mourning – she doesn’t avenge the death of her son, and neither will the Umuofia people avenge the crimes the white men commit against them.

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