Study Guide

Arrow of God Chapter 11

By Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 11

  • Ezeulu visits his friend Akuebue. They greet each other and Akuebue sends his son off for some kolanut. They draw lines on the floor of the hut with chalk. Ezeulu draws five lines – three upright, one across the top and another below. Then he daubs chalk on his big toe and around his left eye.
  • They break kolanut and eat, but first they fight over who should have the honor of breaking it. Akuebue's hands are full so he asks Ezeulu to do it but Ezeulu finally prevails and Akuebue breaks it.
  • They hear gunshots go off and Ezeulu wonders what is going on. Akuebue explains that Amalu is very sick. Akuebue saw it with his own eyes, the way he trembled with cold in the heat of the day, aru-mmo, a sickness of the Spirits. Ezeulu wonders who is preparing medicine for him, then, and Akuebue says it is a man named Nwodika from the village of Umuofia.
  • But, Ezeulu objects, if it's the Spirits causing the sickness, there is nothing you can do about it.
  • That's true, Akuebue acknowledges, but you can't sit around and do nothing for a man in pain.
  • Ezeulu begins to criticize the gun-shooting, saying that can't scare spirits. If he was so sick and they brought a medicine man that knew more about hunting than herbs, he would send that medicine man away.
  • They hear a gunshot again, and Ezeulu says he will stop there on his way home and tell them that if they have no medicine to give the man, they should spare the gunpowder and use it at his funeral instead.
  • Akuebue cautions him to say nothing that would make the family think he wishes them evil.
  • Ezeulu takes one look at the sick man and realizes he will probably be dead by the morning. He looks around and sees what the medicine man has done to try to ward off the Spirits from the hut.
  • The sick man, Amalu, begins to groan. The medicine man loads his gun, walks out of the hut, and shoots. When he returns, Amalu is even worse, and talking nonsense.
  • The medicine man takes the short wooden staff held by the house shrine and puts it in Amalu's fingers. He tells him to grab it and tell the Spirits no.
  • Amalu's hands begin to close around the staff and the medicine man urges him, again, to say no to the Spirits.
  • But instead, his fingers open and the staff clatters to the floor.
  • Ezeulu leaves, wishing them well.
  • Obika's bride, Okuata, arrives. Obika realizes she is beautiful and wonders how he let her go back home before. She arrives with a procession of family members and things for her new household. She is attended by twenty girls who sing a song to entice people to bring good things and place them at her feet as presents. Obika and other members of his family stick money to her forehead. She lets each gift fall into a bowl at her feet.
  • Then they all feast until sunset.
  • When Okuata's mother and family leave to go back to their home, Okuata feels abandoned and begins to cry. Her mother-in-law takes her into her hut, where she is supposed to stay until the sacrifice.
  • Obika, Edogo, Matefi, and Okuata set out with the medicine man, Aniegboka that Ezeulu had hired to perform the Sacrifice. Aniegboka was not a great medicine man, but the ritual did not require a lot of skill. He had a damaged eye from childhood, a result of throwing a sharp stick in the air and failing to catch it when he was a boy. The chicken he plans to use for the Sacrifice squawks in his bag.
  • Okuata is nervous and lonely. Obika is also nervous. Will he find that his wife is a virgin when he enters her hut later? Or has she already been with another? He doesn't know what he will do if it turns out that she is not a virgin.
  • They stop in the middle of the road and Aniegboka asks Obika to dig a hole. Aniegboka brings out the sacrificial objects – four yams, four pieces of white chalk, and a wild lily.
  • Edogo gives him the palm leaves at his request and he begins to separate them into four groups of six leaves each. He places Okuata beside the hole so that she faces her village, then he takes a yam and gives it to Okuata. She waves it around her head and places it in the hole. He puts the other three yams in the hold. They perform the same ritual with the chalk, then the palm leaves, and the wild lily. Then he gives her six cowries and she closes it in her palm, waves it around her head, and places it in the hole.
  • He prays over her, saying that whatever evil she has heard or seen, they are now buried here.
  • He places the bowl of fired clay over the objects, then fills the hole with dirt.
  • He asks for water and Matefi gives it to him. Okuata washes her face, hands, arms, feet, and legs up to the knee.
  • Aniegboka reminds her that she cannot pass this way until the morning, even if war breaks out in the middle of the night.
  • Then he turns to Obika and says that she will bear him nine sons.
  • Obika and Edogo thank him.
  • Aniegboka says that the hen will go home with him and he alone will eat it.
  • On the way home, he boasts about how much people think of hem.
  • When they part ways, Obika asks Matefi if that is the custom, for the medicine man to take the chicken. Matefi says she has heard that some of them do, but has never seen it before. Her own chicken was buried with the rest of the items.
  • Edogo says he has never heard of such a thing. He thinks Aniegboka is greedy.
  • Matefi says that their job was simply to provide a chicken. They have done their part.
  • Obika and Okuata greet Ezeulu before they go to bed. Obika asks Ezeulu about the diviner taking the chicken and Ezeulu assures him that though that is not the custom, he has done his job by providing the chicken as a sacrifice.
  • When they leave, Ezeulu feels warmly towards his son for the first time in awhile. Was Obika growing up? He is sure of it. In the past, Obika would have forced the diviner to bury the chicken with the rest of the items.

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