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Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe  First published in 1959
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer  Things Fall Apart  the centre cannot hold  M...
CHAPTER ONE  Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achiev...
He was tall but very thin and had a slight stoop. He wore a haggard and mournful look except when he was drinking or playi...
 Thank you. He who brings kola brings life. But I think you ought to break it,  replied Okoye, passing back the disc.  No,...
stood in his eyes. His visitor was amazed, and sat speechless. At the end, Unoka was able to give an answer between fresh ...
CHAPTER TWO  Okonkwo had just blown out the palm-oil lamp and stretched himself on his bamboo bed when he heard the ogene ...
his fifth head and he was not an old man yet. On great occasions such as the funeral of a village celebrity he drank his p...
It had its shrine in the centre of Umuofia, in a cleared spot. And if anybody was so foolhardy as to pass by the shrine af...
failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father wa...
 Do what you are told, woman,  Okonkwo thundered, and stammered.  When did you become one of the ndichie of Umuofia   And ...
CHAPTER THREE  Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men usually had. He did not inherit a barn from his...
 Every year,  he said sadly,  before 1 put any crop in the earth, I sacrifice a cock to Ani, the owner of all land. It is ...
title which a man could take in the clan. It was for this man that Okonkwo worked to earn his first seed yams. He took a p...
prosperous family. She wore the anklet of her husband s titles, which the first wife alone could wear. She walked up to he...
he had married his first wife a month or two before. The thick dregs of palm-wine were supposed to be good for men who wer...
while her husband starved. And so at a very early age when he was striving desperately to build a barn through share-cropp...
violent. But it went from day to day without a pause. The spell of sunshine which always came in the middle of the wet sea...
CHAPTER FOUR   Looking at a king s mouth,  said an old man,  one would think he never sucked at his mother s breast.  He w...
The elders of the clan had decided that Ikemefuna should be in Okonkwo s care for a while. But no one thought It would be ...
Okonkwo was provoked to justifiable anger by his youngest wife, who went to plait her hair at her friend s house and did n...
Before it was dusk Ezeani, who was the priest of the earth goddess, Ani, called on Okonkwo in his obi. Okonkwo brought out...
Ogbuefi Ezeudu, who was the oldest man in the village, was telling two other men who came to visit him that the punishment...
began to own a farm at your age. And you,  he said to Ikemefuna,  do you not grow yams where you come from   Inwardly Okon...
And so nature was not interfered with in the middle of the rainy season. Sometimes it poured down in such thick sheets of ...
CHAPTER FIVE  The Feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in a festival mood. It was an occasion for giving t...
But somehow Okonkwo could never become as enthusiastic over feasts as most people. He was a good eater and he could drink ...
Ikemefuna to fetch his gun, the wife who had just been beaten murmured something about guns that never shot. Unfortunately...
fowl. She put back the empty pot on the circular pad in the corner, and looked at her palms, which were black with soot. E...
 Is that me   Ekwefi called back. That was the way people answered calls from outside. They never answered yes for fear it...
Okonkwo cleared his throat and moved his feet to the beat of the drums. It filled him with fire as it had always done from...
up the rear, her face streaming with tears. In her hand was the cloth pad on which the pot should have rested on her head....
 No, that is a boy s job.  Okonkwo was specially fond of Ezinma. She looked very much like her mother, who was once the vi...
CHAPTER SIX  The whole village turned out on the ilo, men, women and children. They stood round in a huge circle leaving t...
among the elders who did not usually show their excitement so openly. It was as quick as the other two, perhaps even quick...
 I think she will stay. They usually stay if they do not die before the age of six.   I pray she stays,  said Ekwefi with ...
Ikezue held out his right hand. Okafo seized it, and they closed in. It was a fierce contest. Ikezue strove to dig in his ...
CHAPTER SEVEN  For three years Ikemefuna lived in Okonkwo s household and the elders of Umuofia seemed to have forgotten a...
how Sky withheld rain for seven years, until crops withered and the dead could not be buried because the hoes broke on the...
thick palm branches and palm leaves was set on the walls to protect them from the next rainy season. Okonkwo worked on the...
on the roofs and covered the bare ground. Mighty tree branches broke away under them, and the whole country became the bro...
Later, Nwoye went to his mother s hut and told her that Ikemefuna was going home. She immediately dropped her pestle with ...
Ikemefuna heard a whisper close behind him and turned round sharply. The man who had whispered now called out aloud, urgin...
He sang it in his mind, and walked to its beat. If the song ended on his right foot, his mother was alive. If it ended on ...
A vague chill had descended on him and his head had seemed to swell, like a solitary walker at night who passes an evil sp...
CHAPTER EIGHT  Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna. He drank palm-wine from morning t...
other as he searched. When he brought out the snuff-bottle he tapped it a few times against his knee-cap before taking out...
Just then Obierika s son, Maduka, came into the obi from outside, greeted Okonkwo and turned towards the compound,  Come a...
 I do not. Why should I  But the Oracle did not ask me to carry out its decision.   But someone had to do it. If we were a...
 Why   asked Obierika and Okonkwo together.  That is the strange part of it. You know his first wife who walks with a stic...
on his work. Okonkwo was not a man of thought but of action. But in absence of work, talking was the next best. Soon after...
There were seven men in Obierika s hut when Okonkwo returned. The suitor was a young man of about twenty-five, and with hi...
not friends. But you will never hear. You grew your ears for decoration, not for hearing. One of these days your jigida wi...
 We are at last getting somewhere,  Ukegbu said, and then turning to his brother and his son he said   Let us go out and w...
 That cannot be,  said Machi.  You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the childr...
CHAPTER NINE  For the first time in three nights, Okonkwo slept. He woke up once in the middle of the night and his mind w...
 It is iba,  said Okonkwo as he took his machete and went into the bush to collect the leaves and grasses and barks of tre...
 May it not happen again.  She died in her eleventh month, and two others after her. Ekwefi then became defiant and called...
Okonkwo said yes, and only then realised for the first time that the child had died on the same market-day as it had been ...
mother, and, with love, anxiety. She determined to nurse her child to health, and she put all her being into it. She was r...
 Answer the question at once,  roared Okonkwo, who stood beside her. All the family were there and some of the neighbours ...
Ezinma led the way back to the road, looked left and right and turned right. And so they arrived home again.  Where did yo...
 There is too much green vegetable,  she said.  Don t you see the pot is full of yams   Ekwefi asked.  And you know how le...
Okagbue went back into the pit, which was now surrounded by spectators. After a few more hoe-fuls of earth he struck the i...
She set the pot on the fire and Okonkwo took up his machete to return to his obi.  You must watch the pot carefully,  he s...
CHAPTER TEN  Large crowds began to gather on the village ilo as soon as the edge had worn off the sun s heat and it was no...
saw only its back with the many-coloured patterns and drawings done by specially chosen women at regular intervals. These ...
Evil Forest then thrust the pointed end of his rattling staff into the earth. And it began to shake and rattle, like somet...
 That woman standing there is my wife, Mgbafo. I married her with my money and my yams. I do not owe my inlaws anything. I...
she ran away to save her life. Her two children belong to Uzowulu. We do not dispute it, but they are too young to leave t...
 How can I know you, father  You are beyond our knowledge,  Uzowulu replied.  I am Evil Forest. I kill a man on the day th...
CHAPTER ELEVEN  The night was impenetrably dark. The moon had been rising later and later every night until now it was see...
 Once upon a time,  she began,  all the birds were invited to a feast in the sky. They were very happy and began to prepar...
 None of the birds had heard of this custom but they knew that Tortoise, in spite of his failings in other directions, was...
Tortoise. And there he stood in his hard shell full of food and wine but without any wings to fly home. He asked the birds...
and she began to prophesy. But tonight she was addressing her prophecy and greetings to Okonkwo, and so everyone in his fa...
 Where else but in his house in the hills and the caves   replied the priestess.  I will come with you, too,  Ekwefi said ...
Ezinma s voice soon faded away and only Chielo was heard moving further and further into the distance.  Why do you stand t...
 Agbala do-o-o-o ... Agbala ekeneo-o-o-o ...  Ekwefi trudged behind, neither getting too near nor keeping too far back. Sh...
It seemed to Ekwefi that the night had become a little lighter. The cloud had lifted and a few stars were out. The moon mu...
market and sometimes bought beancakes for Ezinma, whom she called her daughter. It was a different woman--the priestess of...
stop them. As she stood gazing at the circular darkness which had swallowed them, tears gushed from her eyes, and she swor...
CHAPTER TWELVE  On the following morning the entire neighbourhood wore a festive air because Okonkwo s friend, Obierika, w...
Ezinma was still sleeping when everyone else was astir, and Ekwefi asked Nwoye s mother and Ojiugo to explain to Obierika ...
shrine. But the Hills and the Caves were as silent as death. It was only on his fourth trip that he had found Ekwefi, and ...
and saw that what he led at the end of the tether was not a goat but a heavy log of wood.   Do you think a thief can do th...
Those women whom Obierika s wife had not asked to help her with the cooking returned to their homes, and the rest went bac...
Very soon after, the in-laws began to arrive. Young men and boys in single file, each carrying a pot of wine, came first. ...
 And this will not be the last, because you understand us and we understand you. You are a great family.    Ee-e-e    Pros...
CHAPTER THIRTEEN  Go-di-di-go-go-di-go. Di-go-go-di-go. It was the ekwe talking to the clan. One of the things every man l...
chalk and charcoal. Now and again an ancestral spirit or egwugwu appeared from the underworld, speaking in a tremulous, un...
Ezeudu had taken three titles in his life. It was a rare achievement. There were only four titles in the clan, and only on...
the land. The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent. ...
PART TWO
CHAPTER FOURTEEN  Okonkwo was well received by his mother s kinsmen in Mbanta. The old man who received him was his mother...
Palm trees swayed as the wind combed their leaves into flying crests like strange and fantastic coiffure. When the rain fi...
The daughters of the family were all there, some of them having come a long way from their homes in distant villages. Uche...
wish to speak to,  he began.  But I want all of you to note what 1 am going to say. I am an old man and you are all childr...
 Then listen to me,  he said and cleared his throat.  It s true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beat...
CHAPTER FIFTEEN  It was in the second year of Okonkwo s exile that his friend, Obierika, came to visit him. He brought wit...
 Who are the young men with you   he asked as he sat down again on his goatskin. Okonkwo told him.  Ah,  he said.  Welcome...
 He was not an albino. He was quite different.  He sipped his wine.  And he was riding an iron horse. The first people who...
 Their clan is now completely empty. Even the sacred fish in their mysterious lake have fled and the lake has turned the c...
Okonkwo s first wife soon finished her cooking and set before their guests a big meal of pounded yams and bitter-leaf soup...
 I can tell you,  said Obierika.  Kill one of your sons for me.  That will not be enough,  said Okonkwo.  Then kill yourse...
CHAPTER SIXTEEN  When nearly two years later Obierika paid another visit to his friend in exile the circumstances were les...
had been killed in Abame and his iron horse tied to the sacred silk-cotton tree. And so everybody came to see the white ma...
themselves because the white man had said he was going to live among them. They had not thought about that. At this point ...
that there was only one god. Now you talk about his son. He must have a wife, then.  The crowd agreed.  I did not say He h...
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN  The missionaries spent their first four or five nights in the marketplace, and went into the village in...
Everyone was puzzled. And then it became known that the white man s fetish had unbelievable power. It was said that he wor...
At last the day came by which all the missionaries should have died. But they were still alive, building a new red-earth a...
Okonkwo did not answer. But he left hold of Nwoye, who walked away and never returned. He went back to the church and told...
be. His wife had played him false. He would teach her  But Nwoye resembled his grandfather, Unoka, who was Okonkwo s fathe...
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN  The young church in Mbanta had a few crises early in its life. At first the clan had assumed that it wou...
And the little church was at that moment too deeply absorbed in its own troubles to annoy the clan. It all began over the ...
 He needs Christ more than you and I,  said Mr. Kiaga.  Then I shall go back to the clan,  said the convert. And he went. ...
But, all the same, the rulers and elders of Mbanta assembled to decide on their action. Many of them spoke at great length...
The Christians had grown in number and were now a small community of men, women and children, self-assured and confident. ...
 They say that Okoli killed the sacred python,  said one man.  It is false,  said another.  Okoli told me himself that it ...
CHAPTER NINETEEN  The last big rains of the year were falling. It was the time for treading red earth with which to build ...
It came slowly. The rain became lighter and lighter until it fell in slanting showers. Sometimes the sun shone through the...
When they had harvested a sizable heap they carried it down in two trips to the stream, where every woman had a shallow we...
 I beg you to accept this little kola,  he said.  It is not to pay you back for all you did for me in these seven years. A...
CHAPTER TWENTY  Seven years was a long time to be away from one s clan. A man s place was not always there, waiting for hi...
 You have all seen the great abomination of your brother. Now he is no longer my son or your brother. I will only have a s...
With two beautiful grown-up daughters his return to Umuofia would attract considerable attention. His future sons-in-law w...
The court messengers did not like to be called Ashy-Buttocks, and they beat the men. But the song spread in Umuofia. Okonk...
against us  The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishne...
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE  There were many men and women in Umuofia who did not feel as strongly as Okonkwo about the new dispens...
 There are no other gods,  said Mr. Brown.  Chukwu is the only God and all others are false. You carve a piece of wood--li...
man through his servants. But when his servants fail to help us, then we go to the last source of hope. We appear to pay g...
became teachers,- and from Umuofia labourers went forth into the Lord s vineyard. New churches were established in the sur...
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO  Mr. Brown s successor was the Reverend James Smith, and he was a different kind of man. He condemned o...
converts who had smarted under Mr. Brown s restraining hand now flourished in full favour. One of them was Enoch, the son ...
led him away. Enoch had killed an ancestral spirit, and Umuofia was thrown into confusion. That night the Mother of the Sp...
 O Lord, save Thy people,  cried Mr. Smith.  And bless Thine inheritance,  replied the men. They decided that Enoch should...
between blasts of thunder. The second onrush was greater than the first. It swallowed up the two men. Then an unmistakable...
Mr. Smith said to his interpreter   Tell them to go away from here. This is the house of God and I will not live to see it...
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE  For the first time in many years Okonkwo had a feeling that was akin to happiness. The times which h...
unslung their goatskin bags and their sheathed machetes, put them on the floor, and sat down.  I have asked you to come,  ...
The six men remained sullen and silent and the Commissioner left them for a while. He told the court messengers, when he l...
As soon as the six men were locked up, court messengers went into Umuofia to tell the people that their leaders would not ...
On the morning after the village crier s appeal the men of Umuofia met in the marketplace and decided to collect without d...
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR  Okonkwo and his fellow prisoners were set free as soon as the fine was paid. The District Commissione...
smoked raffia skirt and examined his tall feather head-gear and his shield. They were all satisfactory, he had thought. As...
sheathed machete on his shoulder and went out to join him. Obierika s hut was close to the road and he saw every man who p...
 They are well,  he replied without interest. The first man to speak to Umuofia that morning was Okika, one of the six who...
 They are not,  he said.  They have broken the clan and gone their several ways. We who are here this morning have remaine...
In a flash Okonkwo drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless. Okonkwo s machete descended...
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE  When the district commissioner arrived at Okonkwo s compound at the head of an armed band of soldiers...
skirted round the compound, keeping close to the wall. The only sound they made was with their feet as they crushed dry le...
 Yes, sah,  the messenger said, saluting. The Commissioner went away, taking three or four of the soldiers with him. In th...
A GLOSSARY OF IBO WORDS AND PHRASES agadi-nwayi    old woman.  Agbala    woman  also used of a man who has taken no title....
Nza    a very small bird. obi  the large living quarters of the head of the family.  obodo dike    the land of the brave. ...
About The Author  Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first...
ALSO BY CHINUA ACHEBE Fiction Anthills of the Savannah Arrow of God Girls at War and Other Stories A Man of the People No ...