Things Fall Apart
How we cite our quotes:
[Ezeani]: “You know as well as I do that our forefathers ordained that before we plant any crops in the earth we should observe a week in which a man does not say a harsh word to his neighbor. We live in peace with our fellows to honor our great goddess of the earth without whose blessing our crops would not grow. You have committed a great evil….Your wife was at fault, but even if you came into your obi and found her lover on top of her, you would still have committed a great evil to beat her…The evil you have done can ruin the whole clan. The earth goddess whom you have insulted may refuse to give us her increase, and we shall all perish…You will bring to the shrine of Ani tomorrow one she-goat, one hen, a length of cloth and a hundred cowries.” (4.22)
The idea of personal crimes angering the earth goddess such that she doesn’t bless the Umuofia land and crops is useful; in a small community, it is a way of showing that one individual’s behavior can have strong ramifications on the entire community.
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. (4.36)
The Igbo people believe that their rain-makers can actually take on god-like powers and affect the weather. Though mortals do have some ability to influence the divine, ultimately, humans risk death if they don’t respect that their power is far inferior to that of the gods.
The Feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in a festival mood. It was an occasion for giving thanks to Ani, the earth goddess and the source of all fertility. Ani played a greater part in the life of the people than any other deity. She was the ultimate judge of morality and conduct. And what was more, she was in close communion with the departed father of the clan whose bodies had been committed to the earth. (5.1)
Here we discover the name of the all-important earth goddess for the first time and see that she not only represents a gentle, nurturing, feminine mother but also a stern judge of morality. Though she is responsible for fertility and thus new life, she also provides a connecting link between the living and the dead, making her an important mediator between generations.