In Things Fall Apart, what did the men mean when they saw the goat and said that it was the way things should be done?

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The goat in question is a gigantic one, the size of a cow. It was purchased at the market in Umuike for the uri or betrothal ceremony of Obierika's daughter. The preparations for the ceremony are described in some detail, with the women of Obierika's family spending all day making food for the feast. The palm-wine is brought by the groom's family and there is some concern that they will not bring enough, as their village has a reputation for stinginess. Okonkwo says that they would not dare bring less than thirty pots and he will speak his mind to them if they do. In the end, all is well, as the groom's family brings fifty pots of palm-wine.

As the groom's family brings the wine, so the bride's family provides not only the food but also presents a live goat to the groom's family. When the giant goat is brought out, the whole family admires it and says that is the way things should be done. By this they mean that Obierika and his family are being generous and providing the largest possible goat, just as they are being generous in bringing more pots of palm-wine than are strictly necessary. Such munificence is an important part of the reputation of both individuals and families in the community.

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