In Arrow of God, respect and reputation are highly valued in both Igbo and British cultures. The careers of colonial officials are built on their reputations, as are the careers of men in Igbo culture. In both cultures, titled men and elders have more power than young men or men who lack titles. We see Wright and Clarke gossip about Winterbottom; their attempt to destroy his reputation is also an attempt to build themselves up. Ezeulu feels the sting of the people's lack of respect, first when they ignore his opinion and go to war with Okperi and finally when they continue to blame him for the white man's arrival. Ultimately, it is the destruction of Ezeulu's reputation that causes the people of Umuaro to convert to Christianity.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
What is Ezeulu's reputation in Umuaro? Who respects him? Who disrespects him?
What is the reputation of the white man in Umuaro? Why?
What is the importance of reputation in Igbo culture? In British culture?
Chew on This
In both the colonial administration and Umuaro, the ability of individuals to exercise their power over others is dependent on their reputations.
Although it is obvious that the people have great respect for Ezeulu in the beginning of the novel, Ezeulu confuses their respect for him with their willingness to take his advice.