Study Guide

Arrow of God Chapter 16

By Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 16

  • Ezeulu and Nwodika travel home together. Ezeulu is dressed like a man of his position – his yellow loincloth, and a white toga over it. He carries his goatskin bag and walking-staff. On his head, he wears a red ozo cap with an eagle feather. Nwodika is dressed like a European, wearing a brown shirt over trousers.
  • The rain begins to fall when they are halfway home. They continue on because it was dangerous to stop under a tree.
  • Ezeulu enjoys the rain in a sick sort of way. It's one more example of his suffering. And the more he suffers, the sweeter will be his revenge.
  • He tells Nwodika he's sorry that it's raining since he was kind enough to travel with Ezeulu. Nwodika says he is only worried about Ezeulu, who responds that this is nothing compared to what he has just experienced.
  • Ezeulu's family pampers him when he finally arrives. The first thing he does when he feels back to himself is to send Nwafo to fetch Akuebue.
  • When Akuebue arrives, there are already several people there. Everybody who hears that Ezeulu is home stops to welcome him back. He says little, realizing that he must reach the limit of his suffering before he can seek revenge. So no matter how hard they try to get him to talk and participate in the conversation, he remains silent.
  • Neighbors gloat about Ezeulu's besting of the white man. Akuebue, who is speaking for Ezeulu, explains that the white man believed he was helping Ezeulu, but the people laugh at the white man's ignorance for thinking that.
  • Ezeulu's neighbor Anosi says that you never trust a man from Umunneora, referring to Nwodika, but Akuebue says that Nwodika is different because he has traveled.
  • Anosi continues to badmouth Umunneora, until Ifeme gets up to leave and apologizes to Ezeulu that he never visited him in Okperi. He meant to go, he says, but every day his feet had different ideas. Anosi echoes him, claiming the same thing.
  • Ezeulu ignores them and pays attention to his grandson Amechi, who starts to cry because he can't open Ezeulu's clenched fist. Ezeulu calls Nwafo to take Amechi to his mother.
  • Nwafo bends down so Amechi can climb on his back. The boy stops crying and starts hitting him with his fists instead. Everybody laughs. So Ezeulu tells Nwafo to go away and calls Obiageli to take him instead. And he crawls right on Obiageli's back. She stands up with difficulty and walks away, singing to the child.
  • While he had been imprisoned in Okperi, it had been easy for Ezeulu to see all of Umuaro as his enemy. But it's not so easy now that he is back in his home.
  • On the second day, 57 men come to visit him, and many more women. He begins to think that maybe he should be reconciled with his people.
  • On the third day, Ogbuefi Ofoka visits him. Ofoka is a well-respected man in Umuaro, but rarely visits Ezeulu. Ofoka tells him that all of Umuaro breathed a sigh of relief when Ezeulu returned. And he says that he has the right to say this because he knows how angry Ezeulu was when he went away. And he tells Ezeulu that he is one of the ones who had backed Nwaka of Umunneora when he told Ezeulu to go and talk to the white man.
  • Ezeulu is silent and Ofoka speaks again. He said that they knew what Nwaka was up to and they were not deceived, but they agreed with him when he said that Ezeulu should go speak with the white man because they were confused.
  • Five years ago, Ezeulu told them not to defy the white man. It turned out he was right. But now Ezeulu was telling them to defy that same white man. So what should they have done?
  • Even though Nwaka was their enemy, he told the truth. He told Ezeulu to go and talk to the white man because the white man knows him. And none of the men in Umuaro could have done what Ezeulu done in Okperi.
  • Ezeulu realizes that Ofoka has summarized what he has been thinking since his return. If Akuebue had spoken the same words, they might not have meant as much to him. But because Ofoka was neither a friend nor an enemy, they had considerable power.
  • He realizes that it is his duty to protect the people from danger, no matter how scared he is.
  • Ezeulu calls Oduche. He reminds Oduche how important it is to know what the white man knows. It gives you power. He tells him not to listen to what other people say – he would not lie to his own son. While he was in Okperi, he saw a white man who could write with his left hand. Though he wasn't a wise man, he had power. Oduche must know the white man's knowledge so well that he can write with his left hand.
  • Life goes back to normal. Nwafo and Obiageli beg their mother for a story. Ugoye chides them because there are dirty dishes around, so they set to work washing. Though Ezeulu had eaten the entire dinner Ugoye fixed for him, she wasn't happy. Matefi is jealous and that makes Ugoye's life difficult.
  • Nwafo and Obiageli sit now at their mother's feet and she begins to tell them the story about Eneke Ntulukpa.
  • A story within the story begins.
  • There once was a man with two wives. The senior wife had a lot of children but the junior wife had only one son. The senior wife was jealous and evil. The man and his family went to work on the farm, which bordered the land of spirits.
  • The story within the story ends. Oduche is working on his reading skills, while Ezeulu is again thinking about reconciliation. He realizes that the fight with his people won't begin until harvest time. So why should he be in a hurry to forgive and forget?
  • Suddenly, he hears Ulu speaking. Ulu asks him why he thinks this is his, Ezeulu's, fight? Does he want to save his friends? Is that what he wants? The deity laughs, mocking his chief priest. Then he continues, warning Ezeulu not to stand between him and the object of his wrath or he might get it himself. Let him settle his fight with Idemili, he says; one of them will surely die in this fight.
  • Ezeulu realizes that he can stop over-thinking the problem now. It's Ulu's fight. He was just a pawn in the fight between these gods.
  • And the white man and his religion? Well, the Europeans had once taken sides with Ezeulu and, by exiling him, had again taken sides with Ezeulu. So perhaps the white man had been an ally from the beginning and Ulu had known that.
  • If the white man had been an ally, it would provide an explanation for Ezeulu's decision to send Oduche to learn the religion of the white man. He may not have understood that at the time, but since he was only half man, half spirit, he sometimes did things because of this spirit side.

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