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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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In Things Fall Apart, how does Evil Forest refute Uzowulu's justification for beating his wife?

Quick answer:

Evil Forest refutes the idea that Uzowulu beat his wife because she was unfaithful to him by asking what lover would sleep with a pregnant woman. The crowd agrees with this logic.

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Uzowulu's wife has fled from him with their two young children because he beats her daily, a statement backed up by his neighbors. Uzowulu is still angry that his wife has left him and wants either his bride or the bride price he paid for her back. However, his wife's brother insists that she had to flee him, noting that he beat her so terribly that she miscarried a child. Uzowulu says she miscarried not because he beat her, but because she was sleeping with a lover. Evil Forest refutes this claim of her unfaithfulness by asking:

"Uzowulu's body, I salute you," said Evil Forest, silencing him. "What kind of lover sleeps with a pregnant woman?"

The crowd murmurs in "approbation," agreeing with Evil Forest's assessment of the situation.

Uzowulu does not get what he wants, but his brother-in-law offers him an out, saying that if he begs for his wife back, she will come, but he has to promise not to beat her again. If he does, her relatives promise to come and cut off his genitals.

Evil Forest agrees that Uzowulu's behavior has been too brutal, siding with the wife's family and saying to Uzowulu:

Go to your in-laws with a pot of wine and beg your wife to return to you. It is not bravery when a man fights with a woman.

In such a way, order and patriarchy are upheld in the tribe, allowing men power, but not absolute power, over women. This equilibrium will be disturbed and undermined when the Christian church establishes itself in the village.

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