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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, please give a summary of Chapter 11.

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In Chapter 11 of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, there are two parts. The first part explains how the tortoise's shell looks like it has been broken into fragments and then put back together.

In this chapter, Ekwefi (the mother, and Okonkwo's second wife) is telling Ezinma (her only surviving child) a story about the Tortoise. Tortoise is one who talks a great game: he is very convincing when he speaks. During a time of famine (when there is little to eat), the birds are invited to a banquet to be held in the sky. The Tortoise weaves his charming "spell" and convinces the birds that they should take him along; he needs their help, of course, for he cannot fly on his own. They agree, but when they arrive, the Tortoise (watching out only for his own good) tells the birds that they must choose new names in honor of this special occasion. They all do so, including the Tortoise, but his sly and selfish streak becomes obvious when he chooses the name "All of you." The men of the sky who have prepared the feast mistakenly believe that Tortoise is the leader of the birds, and they have prepared a feast for "all of you." Of course, Tortoise gets the best food to eat, while the rest of the birds can only pick at what is left. This makes them very angry so they leave Tortoise stranded in the sky. Tortoise then asks Parrot to go tell the turtle's wife to place soft things on the ground so that when he jumps from the sky, his landing will be a gentle one. Parrot, however is just as angry as the other birds and tells Tortoise's wife the exact opposite. When Tortoise jumps, he falls and his shell is cracked. He does not die, but the great medicine man has to mend Tortoise's shell which is why it looks to have once been shattered.

After the story, the night is dark and Ekwefi and her daughter hear the voice of Chielo, Agbala's priestess: she is prophesying the future, and tells Ezinma (the daughter) that Agbala wants to see her in the caves. Chielo carries Ezinma, while her mother follows, but Ekwefi can see nothing because of the darkness. Ekwefi runs, and it seems Chielo is running too. They are very close, but Ekwefi holds back, trying not to get too close and attempting to keep her presence a secret. They go on to the village at the other end of the clan's territory and Chielo makes her way to the hills and a cave. Ekwefi is exhausted. As Chielo carries Ezinma into the cave, Okonkwo appears at his wife's side. Ekwefi recalls how she had chosen her first husband over Okonkwo because he had money. Two years later, she left her first husband to marry Oknokwo, and in this moment of fear—facing the unknown—she is deeply thankful that he is there to help her.

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