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A societal conflict is seen between Ezeulu and his people. Ezeulu won't relinquish any of his power as Chief Priest, and he believes anyone who goes against him is an enemy. His authoritarianism is unacceptable to the people because it threatens the culture's survival. This is seen when Ezeulu refuses to eat enough yams to catch up to the amount he should have already eaten while he was in prison. The Feast of the New Yam is an important ritual that marks the new moon of the Umuaro calendar. By Ezeulu refusing to eat the required amount, the yams will rot in the fields, and his people will go hungry. Ezeulu's desire for power causes him to be alienated from society and his family. As a result, the angry villagers turn to the Christian faith, abandoning their traditional god, Ulu.
The conflict against nature is seen by how heavily the people depend on their crops for survival. The two most important rituals are the Festival of the Pumpkin Leaves and the Feast of the New Yam that are celebrated before crops are planted and when crops are ready to be harvested. The first is a ceremony that cleanses the villagers of their sins before the new crop is planted. The second one blesses the harvest. The crops are the lifeblood of the villages, and they can't survive if the crops aren't successfully planted and harvested.
One prominent "man-vs-society" theme is the struggle between the British Christians and the native Igbo people. There are also plenty of internal man-vs. socity conflicts betweenn the Igbo and the Okperi tribes. In the midst of this tribal conflict, man-vs-man takes place between the two rival leaders, Ezeulu and Nwafo.
Man vs. man is also present in the conflicts between the British Clarke and Wright and the character Winterbottom. Winterbottom has more respect for the native ways, and the others ridicule him for his sensitivity.
Please visit the link below to the "themes" page at quicknotes for more information on this topic.
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