Study Guide

Things Fall Apart Chapter Twelve

By Chinua Achebe

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Chapter Twelve

  • The village is preparing to celebrate the engagement of Obierika’s daughter and Okonkwo’s first and third wives are getting ready to bring gifts of food Obierika’s wife. Ekwefi, however, is exhausted after chasing Chielo all night.
  • The previous night, Chielo had crawled out of the shrine with Ezinma sleeping on her back and transported the girl safely back to the village. Okonkwo and Ekwefi had followed the priestess at a safe distance.
  • Ezinma emerges from her mother’s hut, having just woken up. She prepares to gather water with the other children to bring to Obierika’s wife.
  • Okonkwo’s first and third wives leave to go to Obierika’s place and promise to explain why Ekwefi will be late.
  • Okonkwo is grumpy because he spent the whole night worrying about Ezinma. Last night, he was torn between his desire to appear masculinely aloof and his fatherly instinct to protect his daughter. After Ekwefi left to chase after Chielo, Okonkwo had set out after them, but only found them on his fourth trip out, at which point he was sick with worry.
  • At Obierika’s compound, party preparations keep everyone as busy – the village is preparing a celebratory feast.
  • As some men discuss how magic medicine helps the market of neighboring village, Umuike, flourish and draw tons of people.
  • The discussion turns to how magic can also aid thieves in stealing cows. As they speak, a cow (of all things!) actually gets loose. All the women chase after the escaped animal and secure it. After all the commotion, the owner of the cow pays the fine required as penalty for setting a cow loose on a neighbor’s property.
  • Later in the day, the groom’s family brings the last of the bride price to the celebration – pots of palm-wine. The women of the house drink some wine, including the bride, Akueke, who is getting all dolled up for the celebration.
  • Obierika’s guests begin to arrive, followed by the new in-laws (the groom’s family).
  • Though Obierika’s family worried that the in-laws would be a bit stingy, altogether, the groom’s family brings fifty pots of wine – a good showing since only thirty were expected.
  • Obierika’s family formally gives away Akueke to the suitor, Ibe, and establishes an alliance between the two families. The crowd witnesses and confirms the union.
  • Everyone feasts.
  • The night ends with the girls dancing, led by the newlywed bride.
  • Before the groom’s family leaves, taking Akueke with them, Okonkwo gives them a gift of two roosters.

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