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Obierika, who had been gazing steadily at his friend’s dangling body, turned suddenly to the District Commissioner and said ferociously: “That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog…” He could not say any more. His voice trembled and choked his words. (25.18)
Obierika is so overcome by the unfairness and tragedy of Okonkwo’s death that he cannot express it in words. Like Okonkwo when he was worked up, Obierika “choke[s] on his words.”
The Commissioner did not understand what Obierika meant when he said “Perhaps your men will help us.” One of the most infuriating habits of these people was their love of superfluous words, he thought. (25.8)
The Commissioner, like Okonkwo, doesn’t put much stock in words. Instead, he finds them rather annoying. Because he does not understand Obierika’s meaning, he immediately dismisses the man’s words as “superfluous” and “infuriating” – when they’re actually pretty straightforward from Obierika’s standpoint.
[Obierika]: “In the end Oduche died and Aneto was taken to Umuru and hanged. The other people were released, but even now they have not found the mouth with which to tell of their suffering.”
The two men sat in silence for a long time afterwards. (20.28-29)
Words are inadequate to express the full intensity of the people’s suffering in Obierika’s story. Okonkwo and Obierika, too, are stunned and saddened beyond words.