Study Guide

Arrow of God Chapter 17

By Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 17

  • Eventually, all the buzz about Ezeulu's absence and return dies down and life in Umuaro goes back to normal.
  • Obika's wife, Okuata, becomes pregnant. Ugoye and Matefi continue their jealous bickering.
  • Oduche continues learning the ways of the white man, while Edogo carves and, now that Okuata is pregnant and he can no longer make love to her. Obika starts drinking palm wine again.
  • Ezeulu appears to have forgotten all his anger.
  • In Ezeulu's village, Umuachala, there is a minor festival called the New Yam feast.
  • This year, everybody was excited because Obika's age group would present a new Mask. All the members of his age group had been careful in the days leading up to the feast, since they could be targets by jealous neighbors.
  • Because they needed mystique surrounding the new Mask, they decided they would find a man outside of their village to play the new role, so that nobody could guess who played the Mask. Edogo had carved the mask and it belonged to Obika's age group.
  • Obika is sharpening his machete when he sees his pregnant wife. He teases her, calling her "old woman." She says he is the one who did this to her.
  • They soon hear the sounds of people preparing for the feast in the village. Young men beat the ogene and run up and down the streets, searching for the new Mask. As the afternoon waned, people left their homes and joined the villagers in the ilo, a plaza in the middle of the village, where they would celebrate the feast.
  • Ezeulu and Akuebue arrive early, but there are already crowds there. It seems like everybody is there. They hear a commotion and people begin to point at a wicked medicine man named Otakekpeli who is sitting in a corner of the ilo.
  • Many people believed he had been responsible for the death of other people through his medicine.
  • Everybody could tell that he hadn't come just to watch the new Mask. It was the way he sat that made everybody comment. The way he sat, with his legs folded under him like a lame man, was like a boar when it knew the leopard was near. But though nobody was glad he was there, they were all too frightened to do anything about it.
  • As the Mask approached, everybody ran away. They came back when they realized the Mask hadn't come after all. When the announcers of the Mask arrive, they all ran away again but the Mask was taking its sweet time to arrive.
  • When Obika arrived, everybody shouted and cheered because he was the most handsome man in the village, perhaps in all of Umuaro. But as soon as Obika saw Otakekpeli, he ran towards him, then shout at him to go home. Otakekepeli smiled but didn't move.
  • Ezeulu worries. Why would Obika be the one to challenge an evil medicine man?
  • Obika charges at Otakekpeli and throws him over the bush. Everybody cheers. Though Otakekpeli shakes his finger at Obika, Obika has already turned away.
  • Okuata is relieved that it turned out okay.
  • The Mask arrives, singing badly. One of the attendants throws his machete in the air and doesn't catch it. The crowd boos while the Mask greets the elders.
  • Edogo watches from the crowd to see his artistry. He hadn't been entirely pleased with the results of the Mask, but the owners were thrilled.
  • Now, watching the Mask in action, he realizes that it's just fine. He wanders through the crowd, hoping to overhear someone link his name with the greatest carver in Umuaro, Agaba of Umuago, but he is disappointed, even though people compliment the mask.
  • When the rams are slaughtered, the Mask sits down in the seat of honor. Obika throws his machete in the air and lets it revolve in the air, then catches it perfectly. He severs the first ram's head. The crowd cheers. They bring the second ram. Obikwelu catches his machete mid-air perfectly, but when he tries to sever the ram's head, he fails. The crowd boos. He tries again and success but the crowd's laughter drowns out the few cheers.

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