Study Guide

Oduche in Arrow of God

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Oduche, Ezeulu's next to youngest son, is proud to be his father's "eyes and ears" in the white man's culture by attending church and school. But soon, he finds his loyalties are divided. On the one hand, he wants to please his father; on the other hand, he wants to please the catechist at church. He can't do both. There are two critical moments in Arrow of God when Oduche chooses the church over his father, and Ezeulu interprets it as a betrayal.

The first moment is when Oduche locks the royal python up in his box, hoping it will asphyxiate and die. It's an act of rebellion but, more importantly, it's a moment when Oduche tests the taboos of his culture. He discovers that there is no real penalty to his actions. Though Ezeulu rages against him, and though the village talks about what he has done, Oduche suffers no serious consequences.

Based on the fact that there seem to be no repercussions for his actions, Oduche commits a second act that his father considers a betrayal. When the catechist decides to take advantage of Ezeulu's stubbornness and the famine to encourage people to leave the old religion and become Christians, Oduche doesn't mention it to his father. Although Ezeulu intended Oduche to be his eyes and ears, he doesn't realize that Oduche's exposure to another way of life and another god will change him into somebody who no longer fits in his own culture.

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