Study Guide

Arrow of God Chapter 12

By Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 12

  • Okuata emerges in the morning, shy but triumphant. She had been found to be a virgin. Though she knew she had been a virgin, she had always been afraid because of that one night with Obiora. He hadn't penetrated her, but he had come close. She was reminded of the story of Ogbanje Omenyi, whose new husband had sent a request to her parents for a machete so he could cut the "bush on either side of the highway she carried between her thighs" (12.2). In other words, she had been found to be quite experienced.
  • That morning, everybody wants to go with their new bride to the river for water. Even Obiageli who hates the sharp stones on the way to the stream wants to go, and Ojiugo rushes back and forth in the compound with the proud air of somebody who owns something special.
  • Matefi tells them to hurry back, and Nwafo, who apparently hates to bathe, claims slyly that it is only bathing that will make them late.
  • His mother, Ugoye, tells him he's mad and if he doesn't wash at the stream, he'll see who is really mad. Oduche, who is also going, wears his white man's clothes, and this makes Ugoye even madder.
  • Obiageli comes into Ezeulu's hut, carrying Amoge's child on her back. Ezeulu tells her they're crazy for leaving a sick child with her. Obiageli says the child's mother has gone to the stream with the others. Ezeulu tells her to take him to Matefi instead, and she nods obediently, but keeps carrying him around, singing to him.
  • Ezeulu calls for Nwafo. Ugoye tells him that he went with the others to the stream.
  • Ezeulu gets mad because Nwafo sweeps his hut every morning and takes care of him when visitors arrive. He commands her to get Oduche, but she explains that Oduche went with everybody else.
  • Ugoye returns with two brooms and begins to tidy his hut.
  • Akuebue is planning a visit to discuss the problem of Oduche. If the Chief Priest of Ulu sends his son among the white people, who destroy their customs and encourage abominations like killing the sacred python, then what should they do?
  • Edogo had now joined the conspirators. The day before, he had gone secretly to Akuebue and asked him to go and talk to Ezeulu about the problem. He tells Akuebue that the reason why Ezeulu had sent Oduche among the white men was to clear the way for Nwafo to become the Chief Priest. Edogo worries that Ezeulu has led Nwafo to believe that Ulu will select him.
  • Akuebue felt contempt for Edogo, wondering why he couldn't say he wanted to be Chief Priest. But he also felt sorry for him.
  • On the way to the stream, Oduche and Ojiugo get into a fight. Ojiugo is jealous when the new bride is interested in the white man's religion so she reminds her that Oduche put the sacred python in a box. The crowd takes sides and soon a couple of women are also fighting.
  • Ojiugo is crying when she gets home. Matefi gets mad when she sees the damage that Oduche has done. She starts wailing. Ezeulu comes to find out what the commotion is. Soon there is more fighting.
  • This is why Ezeulu is in a bad mood when Akuebue arrives. He listens to his friend and grows irritated. Finally, he says he already knows all of this; he knows that Umuaro is divided over this issue, but why should it worry him? It has been five years since the war, and Ulu has reigned supreme, despite what Ezidemili says.
  • Akuebue says it is jealousy but Ezeulu says he doesn't understand why he would be jealous.
  • Akuebue admits that he's worried about what the clan is saying. Akuebue reminds Ezeulu that no man can go against the entire clan and win. They will say that Ezeulu is betraying them by sending Oduche to learn the ways of the white man.
  • Ezeulu says that he is not the one who brought the white man here. Five years earlier, he cautioned against the war with Okperi. When two brothers fight, it is strangers who win. That was exactly what has happened here. Ezeulu says that they have shown the white man the way, so that they don't have the right to complain.
  • Ezeulu reminds Akuebue of the time when his father and grandfather told the people to do things differently, and both men were cursed by Umuaro. This time it is no different.
  • Akuebue counters that this time is different. Ezeulu is pleasing a stranger, and that is not what his father or grandfather did.
  • Ezeulu is disturbed by this accusation. But he says that the reason he sent Oduche is because they may have reached the end of things. When you reach the end of things, you must make a sacrifice to create a new medicine. That is how they made Ulu in the first place.
  • In this case Ezeulu is sacrificing his own blood to make a powerful medicine so that instead of reaching the end of things, they can begin something new.
  • Akuebue realizes that Edogo was right after all. He asks what will happen if Ulu chooses Oduche to be the new Chief Pries.
  • Ezeulu replies that they should leave that to the deity.
  • Akuebue says that he was not alone when he spoke against the war, but he is alone in sending his son to the strangers who will desecrate the land. He shouldn't do it.
  • Ezeulu sends Akuebue away with harsh words. He already knows what it's like to be alone, he says, and do either of them have the right to say that the land of Umuaro has been desecrated?
  • Nwafo had heard part of the dispute but didn't understand it. Ezeulu sends him to get some palm oil and ground pepper.
  • Ezeulu opens his basket with a boiled and smoked goat leg and cuts a big piece of Akuebue and a small piece for himself. Then he sends Nwafo to fetch some banana leaf so that Akuebue can wrap part of the meat up to take home.
  • Two strangers arrive. Ezeulu asks them to enter. One of them identifies himself as the son of Nwodika from Umunneora. He has a message from Okperi. His companion is the Court Messenger of Wintabota, the Destroyer of Guns.
  • Ezeulu inquires after Wintabota's health. The Court Messenger grows impatient with the questions.
  • Obika and Edogo come when they hear that a messenger of the white man has arrived. They break kolanut and finally the Court Messenger speaks. He asks to speak to Ezeulu, but neither Ezeulu or Akuebue identify themselves. They are too surprised and they chide him for the way he has approached them. He must know who Ezeulu is before he can speak.
  • Obika says that he isn't in the white man's house, but in the house of Ulu's Chief Priest.
  • Ezeulu tells him to shut up and they have a small scuffle. Then he identifies himself as Ezeulu and asks him to speak. He says he is a good friend of Wintabota and he is ready to hear the message.
  • So the Court Messenger speaks. He says that Kaputin Winta-bor-tom has never mentioned that he had a friend in Umuaro but they will find out the truth of that tomorrow.
  • Akuebue is worried and asks him to explain himself.
  • So the Court Messenger says that their friend "Wintabota" (he pronounces it contemptuously, to show off their ignorance) has commanded them to appear before him tomorrow morning.
  • Edogo asks where and he replies that he must appear before him in his offices in Okperi.
  • Obika calls the man crazy and Ezeulu says no, he is not crazy, he is just the messenger.
  • Then the messenger says that he may have to wait in Okperi for several days, since the white man is important and there are a lot of people who must see him. The messenger then suggests that for a small bribe of good food, he can arrange for Ezeulu to see him more quickly.
  • Ezeulu says that is not a problem but the Court Messenger must tell Winterbottom that if he wants to see Ezeulu, he must come there.
  • The Court Messenger is astonished.
  • Akuebue whispers with the Court Messenger, which irritates Ezeulu. Akuebue asks the Court Messenger to give them some time.
  • Ezeulu doesn't participate in the discussion. When the Court Messenger returns, Akuebue tells him that Ezeulu had agreed to send his son Edogo to bring back the message.
  • The Court Messenger says he will not take that message.
  • Obika says he can leave then.
  • Akuebue steps in and says he has never heard that a messenger can refuse the message he is given to carry. He instructs the messenger to tell Winterbottom what Ezeulu says.
  • Ezeulu turns away and picks his teeth.

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