Who are the main characters in Arrow of God, and what role did they play in the story?

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Ezeulu, the head priest in the villages of Umuaro, is the protagonist of the novel, which takes place in the Igbo areas of Kenya. Ezeulu considers himself the spokesman of the god Ulu, but Ezeulu's power is threatened by Nwaka, another character who urges the villagers to fight against neighboring Okperi. Captain T.K. Winterbottom, the British District Officer of the area, steps in to stop the war, and Winterbottom is impressed by Ezeulu's efforts to speak against the war. However, Ezeulu's efforts in part cause the commissioner to rule in favor of Okperi, to the disappointment of the people of Umuaro. 

Christian missionaries arrive in Umuaro to begin to convert the local people. Ezeulu sends his son, Oduche, to the missionaries to learn about the new religion, and Oduche winds up converting. Later, Ezeulu is asked by Winterbottom to be part of the British system of indirect rule, but he refuses and is jailed. After he is released, convinced that Ulu is not in favor of the yam harvest, Ezeulu refuses to bless the harvest. The yams rot, causing starvation. As a result of being starved, one of Ezeulu's sons (Obika) dies, and the village begins to convert to Christianity. As Achebe writes of the people of Umuaro, "Their god had taken sides with them against his headstrong and ambitious priest." Ezeulu plays the role of unsuccessfully defending Igbo tradition against the onslaught of Christianity, and Winterbottom unwittingly hastens the decline of tradition by inviting Ezeulu to be part of indirect rule and then jailing him. 

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dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The central character of Arrow of God is Ezeulu, the chief priest of Umuaro.  He has three wives and many sons, and has a domineering personality. He is blamed for many of the village's problems which have come as a result of colonialization.

Winterbottom is a British officer who strongly believes in his mission of colonialization.  He serves as a foil to Ezeulu. Despite his beliefs, he is a sensitive and practical man.

Clark is Winterbottom's assistant and overseer, and is unscrupulous and abusive in his dealings with the natives.

Okbuefi Akuebue is Ezeulu's more level-headed best friend.

Okuata is Ezeulu's first wife, who has died.  Matefi is now his senior wife, and Ugoye is his younger one.

Odogo is Ezeulu's oldest son, and Amoge is his wife.

Obika is Ezeulu's second son, and his "heir apparent"; Okuata is his wife.  Obika has a rash personality, drinks heavily, and gets in fights.  Obika dies of a fever before he can take over his father's position, an event which contributes to Ezeulu's eventual downfall.

Oduche is a lesser son of Ezeulu who has been sent away to school.

Akueke is a daughter of Ezeulu who is beaten by her husband.  Her husband is humilated and almost killed by Obika in retaliation.

A complete and detailed description of characters can be found at the enotes link below.

 

 

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